Office overheads in the 21st Century – space management


HotDesking.jpg2014 has ushered in another year of angst for most organisations in South Africa. However, while cost containment remains high on many Exco’s agendas, the costs associated with staff continue to increase relative to the wage bill, says Alan Low of Purchasing Index (PI), in this month’s SmartProcurement.

In the 1970s office overheads as a proportion of salaries were as low as 35%; now associated overheads can be as much as 2 or 2.5 times employment costs, notes Low.

Space management can be summed up as trying to get as many staff into as small a space as possible while maintaining morale, increasing productivity, considering the changing nature of the workplace, facilitating collaboration and communication; and attracting talent.

This is a very complex set of requirements and it is no wonder that it has attracted a lot of comment both here and internationally.

Research has shown that the average space per staff member dropped 33% between 2010 and 2013 and may be as little as 9 square meters by 2018.

Factors driving a change in space management

The work-from-home movement, hot-desking and other initiatives aimed at improving work efficiency and reducing facilities costs are starting to gain momentum internationally and domestically, says Low.

“Demands for faster communication and improved productivity are leading to more managers sitting in open-plan offices. Furthermore, an appreciation of the importance of all staff members is resulting in creative ways to make it easier for them to work and to be creative: organisations are trying to encourage spontaneity through their space layouts, recognising factors like peoples’ longer working hours, etc., and showing, through their space management (amongst other things) that they care about their staff and the environment.”

The fact that staff members are using multiple types of technology in their work must be considered by the work space, notes Low.

SpaceManagementFramework.jpgIn 2013 PI undertook some interesting market research on space management, using the framework alongside.

Owing to the interest shown by many organisations in different industry sectors, PI is launching an annual benchmark around this vital function covering such issues as:
• comparative space and space usage;
• standardisation on workspace usage, size, layout, etc.;
• charge–back methodologies;
• office churn in each organisation – incl. resources, the churn process, re-stacking, costs and extent;
• remote working and hot-desking;
• future strategies;
• ongoing challenges; and
• other issues pertinent to the organisations participating in the benchmark report.

Over the next few years these issues and measurement of their success will be incorporated into PI benchmark reports.

If you would like to discuss benchmarking space management and other facilities management related spend categories, please contact

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