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Cost Reduction Through Mobile Offices and Nontraditional Uses for Existing Spaces

A more efficient and somewhat nontraditional use of office space can save your company money. Are you ready to embrace the office of the future?

Guillermo Rotman, President, The Regus Group Americas (Nov 08)
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Pick a Desk, Any Desk
Despite the upside to teleworking, the fact remains that a remote existence doesn't suit all employees. But that still doesn't mean they all need full-time desks at the corporate office. For example, it may be rare that all sales employees are working at their desks at the same time. Therefore, forward-thinking companies recognize that there's no need to allocate separate office space for every worker. Space and resources, when not in use by one worker, can be used by another.

That's the idea behind office hoteling. Just like travelers don't need a full-time residence in the cities they visit, many workers don't need a full-time workspace at their company's main office. So rather than every employee having a cubicle or office "held" for them at all times, a hoteling system assigns office space to employees on an as-needed basis. Like travelers checking into a hotel, workers can make reservations for a workstation when they know they'll be there. This reduces the amount of physical space a business needs, lowering overhead costs while ensuring that workers still have the space and resources they need when they need it. A less formal version of hoteling is hot-desking, a "sit anywhere" set-up where unassigned seating is available without reservations.

While neither scenario is likely to accommodate a company's entire corporate workforce, temporary seating arrangements work best for targeted groups of employees, such as sales teams, who are frequently out of the office.

Flexible Branches
In addition to realigning office resources at the corporate headquarters, companies also have much to gain by rethinking their approach to branch locations or satellite offices. Whether it's across town or in another city, opening a new location to be near a major client or attract new talent comes with inherent startup costs, as well as risks associated with signing a long-term lease. There's the possibility that business may not pan out in the market, forcing closure of the office before the lease is up. Or the new office could prove so successful that the branch must relocate to a larger space. In either case, the company risks paying for space it no longer needs, or incurring penalties for not completing the terms of the lease.

Companies can avoid this predicament through the use of fully furnished and equipped business centers in place of traditional real estate leases. These move-in-ready shared office centers can be found scattered throughout metropolitan and suburban areas, and allow companies to open strategically placed branch offices closer to employees' homes or adjacent to important customers, without the need to lease and outfit traditional office space. Since most business centers offer short-term contracts, companies can easily and inexpensively expand or reduce their office space without changing locations.

In all likelihood, no single new workplace program will be the silver bullet that vanquishes office space waste. To dramatically increase the efficient use of space and produce compelling bottom-line results, most companies will require a customized strategy that attacks the problem from many different angles. The common element in any such plan, however, will be accepting that the workplace must align to meet the new realities of business in a mobile world. The transition will take time, but there are ample rewards waiting to be claimed by companies who embrace the change.


Guillermo Rotman is CEO of The Regus Group Americas. The Regus Group, Plc. is the world's largest provider of workplace solutions, operating a global network of more than 950 business centers in 400 cities and 70 countries. Visit the company's website at www.regus.com.
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