Right now, out in the world of big business, real estate managers are running scared. Their bosses are telling them they have become a P&L and they had better figure out how to achieve a 20 percent cost-saving next financial year. Australia is a high-cost country, and the CFO is trying to squeeze as much out of every department as possible.

Plus: Finding balance in the 24/7 shuffle | WeWork raises the bar for workplaces

So what are real estate managers to do? They are trying anything — from activity based working (ABW) to flexible working and outsourcing … anything! And nine times out of 10, the answer is to squeeze more and more out of their office accommodation.

Also: Five pillars of an authentic workplace | It’s time to get the workplace right

Workplace density: The hidden traps

Ten years ago, a corporation’s average allocation would be 18 square meters or 20 square meters per employee. Buildings could easily accommodate this since they are generally engineered to accommodate one person for every 10 square meters. These days, we are seeing clients who are targeting 7 to 8 square meters per employee. Buildings are buckling under the strain.

As a building owner, if you can’t accommodate this sort of density, your large, stable, rent-paying tenant might just go somewhere else.

What are the capacity constraints that you need to consider?

  1. Amenities: The number of toilets and hand basins restrict on-floor capacity. Try adding an accessible toilet, and this can count as an additional toilet for both male and females.
  2. Fresh air:Does your building have sufficient fresh air intake to accommodate increased densities? If not, figure out where you can install additional fresh air vents before it becomes an issue.
  3. Egress: Can your fire staircases accommodate additional people? Find out how additional fire hose reels and smoke detectors can be installed as an alternative solution.

Don’t assume that you can simply squeeze as many people as you want into your space just because the demand for space increases! With a few smart tactics, you can make the most of your capacity and keep your tenants happy.

Find out more about how workplace strategy can help create a more effective work place. For more insights and discussion, follow our Colliers Collaboration page on LinkedIn.

As National Director of Workplace Strategy and Design for Colliers International in Australia, Peter is a workplace strategist and qualified architect with over 25 years’ experience in workplace and base building design, working with clients ranging from Bauer Media Group, AT Kearney, Ricoh, ANZ Bank and Citrix.