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Managing Office Space Growth, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

You won't have a dull moment if you are constantly reacting to requests for new employee office space (for tomorrow morning), but a more controlled approach can extend your lifespan! As Facility Manager, it is very important for you to be in the loop about your company business plans. Wildfire growth is a great opportunity to get the attention of the executives, and illustrate how you can add value to the organization. Your first step should be to document historic growth for the last few months or years. Human Resources can provide headcounts by company division and title, or you can try the phone directory database. Create a chart with the headcount data, converting to space requirements using the historic square footage per person as a multiplier, and then extend the data "curve" to represent future months or years growth at the current rates. MS Excel easily converts spreadsheet data into a variety of chart formats. Your chart will likely illustrate your space requirements going "OFF the chart". At that point, you may want to meet with your executive team about how your findings compare with your available space and the company strategic plan.

It is important for you to bring some recommended solutions to your executive meeting. You can adjust the chart to show how reducing space per person will allow you to fit within existing space, for instance, or you can calculate expansion space requirements at key intervals, such as lease expiration or option dates. Find out all you can about your company business plans and get advice from applicable departments about how it affects them. What does the future hold? Mergers & acquisitions? Industry innovations? Changing competition? New products or major contracts? How do the economic climate or interest rate changes affect the company? Create adjusted charts for alternate business scenarios. In addition, help your executives understand how a controlled approach to space management will save them money. Quantify historic churn costs, and estimate the percent that could be saved with more proactive planning. Illustrate how you can reduce employee downtime costs, and premium costs to contractors, consultants and furniture and equipment suppliers. Finally, scout out existing reports or meetings that will provide you with important ongoing planning information, and request regular attendance or copies of documents. A simple update to your space projection charts could serve as a tracking system for company growth projections- and you can put away the firehose!

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