Per employee personal space in offices across India is down from around 225 sq ft in 2009 to around 100-125 sq ft now. For companies, this means a cost saving of around 20%.
This reduction in per employee space is due to a gradual shift from cabins to open offices and shared space concepts, says Rajiv Mohan, managing director, corporate interiors firm Cherry Hill Interiors.
“The number could come down to below 100 sq ft in another few years,” says Mohan
The concept of ‘hot desking’, majorly in sales and marketing outfits, where multiple workers use a single physical work station or surface at different times of the day, has also led to a reduction in per employee space. Collaborative and huddle spaces are also replacing employees’ personal spaces in offices.
Harleen Oberoi, managing director, project management, India, Cushman & Wakefield says tenants today have reduced around 15-20% in real estate costs.
“Real estate is expensive in metros and companies are focusing on consolidation. This is surely reducing their cost per employee,” he said.
According to Bhumesh Gaur, co-chair, India Chapter at CoreNet Global, an association of corporate real estate professionals whose members include over 100 Indian and foreign corporates, the per employee office space is not really shrinking, but is becoming smarter. “Companies are focusing on optimum utilisation of office space these days. Bulkier CPUs and monitors on work stations have been replaced with a sleeker options,” he said.
“Companies these days are focusing on reducing their rental cost and promoting a collaborative work environment,” said Raja Seetharaman, director, Propstack, a commercial data information and analytics firm.
The work space requirements per employee is categorised in three types depending on the type of work, explains Ajay Rakheja, co-Founder and chief executive officer, CREIndia.com, a commercial real estate portal.
Consultancies, architectural and advisory firms, where client engagements are not required much and have most of their work in-house, have per employee space of over 100 sq ft. Corporate firms looking to set their head offices by buying out the entire buildings have a much larger per employee space requirement ranging from 80-130 sq ft as they take care of all the needs of the employees with facilities such as creche, health centers, etc. Lastly, companies working in KPO and BPO domains, working 24×7 in shifts need a much lesser per employee space of around 20-60 sq ft.
“Companies are developing a talent pool which can multitask, unlike older days where the work was fixed per employee. This has also helped in making the offices smaller and efficient,” said Rakheja.
Ashok Kularia, managing director, ANJ Turnkey Projects, a design and build firm, however, feels the personal space per employee might have gone down, but the shared space has increased. “Employers are focusing on knowledge sharing these days, and thus are having more collaborative spaces,” he said.
However, Mohan of Cherry Hill feels there will be a reversal of trend in a few years from now and we might see employees getting bigger spaces.
“Companies feel open offices foster communication. But this concept is not practical for all types of businesses, for example in a law firm. If companies see a decrease in their employee confidence due to the reduction in personal space, we might see a trend reversal,” he said.
The thumb rule globally for per employee office space is 100 sq ft, according to Viral Desai, national director – occupier, Knight Frank India. “However, the scene globally is also similar where per employee space in offices have dropped below 100 sq ft in many global markets,” he said.
credits ET Realty