Office Space Continues to Shrink


The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) has released its 23rd research report, Project Management Benchmarks, which reveals some surprises about how facility professionals handle projects, strategic planning and the allocation of space.

Among the findings is further evidence that the number of square feet of office space per person is continuing to shrink. In 2001, the reported average rentable space per person was 355 square feet, dropping to 347 in 2002. When examining space standards and the
average square footage per work station, office sizes have decreased an overall average of 13 percent since the last report.

The amount of office space per type of worker has been shrinking steadily since 1997, but the most dramatic drop in measured space has been in upper management, decreased from 280 to 239 square feet. Senior management offices have shrunk from 193 to 169 square feet.

The new report also shows the ratio of open offices to those enclosed continues to increase. Since 1997, the percentage of private offices has decreased by three percent, while open plan offices have increased by the same percentage.

Project Management Benchmarks, released in January, also reveals survey results on a variety of project management topics and facility benchmarks. Data on project scope, schedules, budgets, bidding processes and staffing are included, as well as move management and furnishings, space planning and strategic facility planning.

Almost three-fourths of the facility professionals surveyed said they either meet with senior executives or supply information that is used by others in the strategic facility planning process. While 82 percent agree that having a strategic facilities plan is important, only 54 percent said they actually have a current written plan. Project Management Benchmarks is available for $50 for members, $100 for non-members. For information, e-mail:

Tracking Trends

Tracking demographic, construction and design trends is essential to a firm's future growth and maybe even survival. Here are key factors to watch in the coming decades, as reported in Changes in Construction Markets: The Next 15 Years, a paper by Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist and senior research fellow at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Population Trends
* Dramatic growth of middle-age population.
* Decline in household size and growth of single-person and two- person households.
* Growing number of heads-of-house hold in their 40s to 60s—the age group that spends most on remodeling.
* Influx of immigrants, as well as a growing population diversity.
* Dramatic growth of Sunbelt population.

Residential Trends
* Growth in residential remodeling, additions and alterations.
* More high-end homes for single- and two-person households.
* New and remodeled homes to accommodate more sophisticated offices for at-home work and in-home healthcare services for aging residents.
* More low-maintenance, security and automation features.

Contract Trends
* New-office construction will slow, but many offices will be restructuring and/or remodeling.
* Both academic educational and professional/corporate training environments are expected to be in demand (renovations, new buildings, facilities for new educational models, distance learning, etc.).
* Healthcare facilities to experience significant growth and rework. Criminal justice facilities are also expected to grow.

More information on the paper is available on-line at

Pump Up Public Relations

During this uncertain economy, environmental, engineering and construction companies can depend more upon public relations programs to help them win work. Many companies fail to see the value that public relations can bring to not only specific projects, but also to long-term marketing and business development programs," states Jim Duffy, an associate with ZweigWhite who specializes in public relations services. Duffy shares some advice that can help pump up a firm's public relations program:

* Think beyond the press release. "Create opportunities to establish and sustain relationships through activities such as open houses, facility tours or even workshops on emerging technologies or changing regulations," he says.

* Add value to your marketing. "Practice what your marketing collateral preaches by seeking out unique community, media or government relations activities that show off your solutions to complex challenges."

* Hold learning forums. "Taking the initiative to interact with those who will be most impacted by a proposed project lets the owner or developer become aware of local issues that could stall or even kill the project," concludes Duffy.

ZweigWhite provides full-service management consultation and expertise exclusively to design, environmental consulting, and construction firms through consulting, research, publications, education and other specialized products and services. For more
information, visit

Plug and Play

An increasing number of companies are experiencing sticker shock when moving into "plug and play" space, reports a recent edition of Design Solutions, a newsletter oriented toward high-tech firms published by Reel Grobman & Associates, an interior
planning and design firm based in San Jose, CA. While the term "plug and play" suggests that new tenants will easily occupy the space, get to work and pay lower costs to move in, Reel Grobman reports that companies rarely find that they can do so without making improvements to the facilities.

Often geared to the high-tech industry, these spaces generally reside in the newest buildings, have a relatively open floor plan, offer a substantial technology infrastructure, furniture systems and include popular amenities like exercise facilities and cafés. But, as reported in Design Solutions, new tenants may need to build more offices, improve the facility's power requirements, upgrade the air conditioning or add specific features such as high-bandwidth cabling.

"People expect almost no additional expenses and think that their only cost will be moving into the space—which is not a reality," notes Win Roney, president of Reel Grobman & Associates, who cautions that most companies moving into a plug and play space find it necessary to make at least some unanticipated initial improvements.

"Often prospective tenants think they're going to spend $5 per square foot but it's not unusual to find a company spending $20 to $25 per square foot on improving, outfitting and then moving into a new space." Not surprisingly, unexpected costs will severely curtail the value of plug and play space.

How can companies make the most of moving into plug and play space? Roney offers these suggestions:

* Be flexible with your requirements. Most importantly, don't attempt to apply all your old standards to the new facility. Many high-tech companies approach a search for plug and play space the same way they do for traditional space—by looking for a "perfect fit." But since plug and play space already includes furniture and the technology infrastructure, inflexible standards on the part of the new tenant may require a substantial amount of alterations and improvements to be made to the space prior to moving in. Therefore, willingness to compromise in terms of the functional layout of the
tenant's space can save time and money.

* Hire a brain trust. Even large companies with dedicated facilities managers need the advice of an expert. An experienced team consisting of an architect and a construction manager or contractor will help you sort through the new facility and decide what should change and what should stay the same.

* Conduct the proper due diligence. To get the most of the new facility, prospective tenants must have a clear idea of what is actually in the building. In addition to hiring an architect, make sure you ask your IT director, security director and any other key personnel for their opinions.

* Negotiate the largest tenant improvement allowance possible. In the current office space market, smart tenants and their brokers are stipulating generous allowances for tenant improvements (TI) in their lease proposal requests. TI allowances will help your company avoid unexpected and escalating costs prior to moving in. Though the size of the allowance will depend on each building owner, lease term and your credit
worthiness, an architect can also help you make the best determination in
this area.