This can be a tough question to answer, however by gathering key information you can put together an effective and accurate plan of an departments or and institutions office space requirements. Therefore, the first step to finding the answer to this question is gathering this key information.
I touched on this in a previous article Are My Office Spaces Being Well Utilised? and this is part of the consultancy services I and Education Space Consultancy offer – Office Space Utilisation Surveys and Consultancy and Space Modelling. However, to give you some insight into the processes behind calculating office space requirements, for this article I am going to look at the different staff and department information I look to gather and confirm in order to asses how much office space a department needs.
This is one of the core components and as with all models, the results are only as good as the information you put in, therefore this staff data must be as up to date and relevant as possible. I typically look for the following key elements when putting together this staff information in order to assess office space requirements.
- Staff Position
I personally try to lean away from indicating how much space a staff member requires simply due to their position, as it is rarely provides a neat and staff friendly solution. However, there can be certain positions than bring with them the entitlement to a larger amount of office space. For example an institution may have a view that the head of department requires a larger office space than that of an admin assistant and therefore noting the staff position is important in calculating how much office space is required.
You can also use staff position information to compare people with similar positions and highlight any space requirement differences and explore/reject options for space sharing etc. Also, if there are departmental agreements (see Department Information) for certain staff positions, then again knowing how many staff this effects is critical to ensuring the right amount and type of office space is provided. For example, there may be an institutional agreement that the departments lecturing staff require their own personal office space and therefore it is again important that those staff this effects can easily be identified and incorporated into the office space plans.
- Staff Responsibilities
If staff have responsibilities that effect the size and type of office space they require, then it is important that this information is gathered. For example, a lecturer may require private space to hold tutorials and if so, it would also be important to note the maximum number of students these tutorials would include (per tutorial session) and the frequency of these sessions (per week).
Similarly, staff that require to meet regularly in private space should also specify the average frequency of these meetings (i.e. hours per week) as well as specify the number of people this involves. If there is variance between the group sizes, then try to be specific – for example, of the 10 hours of meetings per week, how many involve 1, 2-3, 3-4 etc people.
- Office Hours
Not all staff will necessarily require their own desk/office space if they do not need to occupy the space 100% of the time. Therefore it is important to gather information on the staff members working hours. Are they full time/part time? If part time, what are the hours per week that have been agreed – important to understand not only how many hours, but if there is a specific agreement (i.e. Can only work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday).
Also note any work from home arrangements, this is becoming more popular with the digital world enabling staff to work just as effectively (if not more effectively – Working From Home) from home and effects the office space requirements for departments. Again, be sure to note exactly what these arrangements are, noting the specific hours agreed.
It is also worth noting what percentage of time staff actually spend at their desk. For example a research assistant may spend 75% of their time in a laboratory, whilst a administration assistant may spend 90% of their time at their desk. It is important to note if there are any variances in this during the year, recording when these are as well as what the differences are.
- Other Specialist Space Requirements
There can sometimes be extra space requirements, that don’t neatly fall into the other headings noted above but do result in the staff requiring a certain amount of space as a result. It is critical this information is gathered, therefore a “other” section helps to pick this up and provide an opportunity for people to add any other special requirements that haven’t already been mentioned. Finding out about these specialist requirements later on, can really cause issues, so it’s best to find out now!
There are often department office space requirements, that will effect the amount and type of office space that the department requires. However rather than simply finding out how much and what type space a department requires, find out why the department has these space requirements. The difference is important, as you can then explore different potential space solutions that would solve the activity requirements rather than simply trying to meet the perceived space requirements. This can not only save space, but actually produce a better solution for the users – a win/win!
For example, a departments may have the view that their lecturing staff require their own office space and this space must be a minimum of 18m2. This information alone will mean that you will then have to look to accommodate this demand and ultimately this may not be feasible or it will be and the space could end up not being used effectively.
However, investigate this further and it may come apparent that departments lecturers currently (or are looking to) use this large office space to carry out tutorial sessions for 4-5 students 2-3 hours a week. Knowing this, would enable you to explore the different options for solving the problem – i.e. space to accommodate personal tutorials for 4-5 students, 2-3 hours a week
Rather than providing each lecturer with large office space to accommodate this you could investigate the feasibility of providing specific 4-5 capacity tutorial space to accommodate not only one lecturers but potentially up to 13 lecturers tutorial space demand (3×13=39 hours demand per week). You would therefore not only reduce the total space requirement, but also ensure that the space you do provide meets the users requirements.
In this day and age, storage space is becoming less of an issue – but nonetheless certainly don’t ignore it! Be sure to check if there are equipment/files etc that the department(s) needs to store, again find out what it is that needs to be stored rather than how much space is required. Also be sure to check if there are any special constraints that effect the storage of certain equipment/files. Does the equipment/files need to be temperature store din a controlled/secure/easily accessible/onsite/private space?
Now you have all this information, the next step is to put it together and determine what the departments office space requirements are. This next step won’t produce the end solution rather provide you with a first draft that you can then go back to the users to discuss further and amend accordingly, evolving the plan into a solution that not only helps to ensure departments make effective use of the space available but also ensure that the final office solution addresses their requirements. I looked at this in more detail in my last article, so feel free to check this out – Office Space And The Importance Of Engaging With Users.
Next week, I will be posting an article that follows a basic example of a departments office space requirements to give an idea of the process I go through and how you can do this to assess how much space your department(s)/institution require. Sign up to the Education Space Consultancy newsletter and you will be notified via the newsletter about this article as well as be provided free access to the resources I provide.
As mentioned at the start of this article, I do offer consultancy services that will help you to understand and make the most out of your office space (Office Space Utilisation Surveys and Consultancy and Space Modelling). Therefore if this is something you are interested in, please don’t hesitate to contact me it would be great to hear from you.
All the best