Saving Money on Office Cubicles with Smart Designs and Smart Shopping
Whether you are moving your office to a new location, larger or smaller, or you are simply looking for a way to maximize your current space, you will likely need to purchase new office cubicles and systems furniture. You may not be aware that there are many ways that you can save money when purchasing new office cubicle components and managing their layout, while at the same time maintaining employee satisfaction and increasing workplace efficiency.
Turn Hard Wall Offices into Office Cubicles
First of all, there is a misconception that if you are coming out of a hard wall office into a space in which you will use office cubicles, you will need to establish the new workspaces to be exactly the same size as those previously being used. This is simply not true. An office cubicle is more efficient than a traditional desk and credenza setup, and it can actually give you more office workspace in a fraction of the size of a standard office. For example, a 10’x12′ office with a 36″x72″ desk and a 22″x72″ credenza equates to the same square footage of workspace as an 8’x8′ office cubicle or even a 6’x8′ U group.
First, it is important to note that building a hard wall office costs more money in general than creating an open floor plan that uses office cubicles. In addition, a hard wall office requires more floor space than its footprint may suggest when wall thickness and hallways are also taken into consideration. By using office cubicles, more personnel can be fit into a smaller space (smaller space equates to lower rent), and they can still be offered the same amount of workspace that they would have had in hard wall offices.
Use Smaller Office Cubicles – Gain Larger Workspaces
You may instead be starting out with a floor plan that uses 8’x8′ office cubicles. If you reduce these spaces to 6’x8′, and you are working with a leased square footage rate averaging $25, you can save $400 per year per employee on rent. However, this does not mean that you will be putting your employees in less comfortable office cubicles, which could negatively impact the work environment. There are many ways to maximize the revised space to be used to its fullest and, in fact, you can wind up with more workable space in the smaller office cubicle than you had previously.
Take Advantage of Changing Technology
The days of large, bulky computer monitors are becoming a thing of the past, and the trend is now toward flat panel monitors or even laptops. For this reason, you no longer need to factor desk space that will be consumed by a large monitor and computer setup into your office cubicles. When CRT monitors were standard, you would have needed to set up an office cubicle in a three-piece L – a corner work surface (which would have been taken up mostly by the monitor) and two straight surfaces coming off of either side. However, with smaller computers taking up less space, you can instead work with an office cubicle in a two-piece L – two straight work surfaces that meet in a corner that no longer needs to be as deep as it previously did. That is one less worksurface to buy, which saves you money.
In addition, many of today’s offices are now going paperless. This means that employees need less storage space in their office cubicles than they may have in the past to store hanging files or paperwork. For example, a traditional office cubicle may have had a box/box/file and/or a file/file – a three-drawer cabinet and a two-drawer cabinet – in place. The office cubicle may also have had two overheads – one closed bin and one open shelf. These would have been necessary when everything in the office used paper. However, now that more projects are stored digitally, you may wish to take a new look at exactly how much of this space is currently needed.
With a close review of your employees’ office cubicles, you may find that instead of paperwork filling their drawers, employees now have empty spaces – or spaces sparsely populated with personal items. While it is important to not remove spaces for personal items entirely, you also want to ensure that your office cubicles have little wasted space. As is often the case, you will find that people will expand their usage of their office workspace to fill what they have available – even if they do not need all of it for work and personal items. Once you have reviewed what spaces are actually needed to ensure that employees can operate efficiently (and happily!), you can start to pare down the number of office cubicle components that you purchase, eliminating one of the overhead bins, for example, or one set of drawers, and saving money in the process.
Revise Your Office Cubicle Layout
The next step would be to revise the layout of your office cubicles while making them take up a smaller footprint. For example, you can take an 8’x8′ L office cubicle configuration and convert it into a 6’x8′ U configuration. Surprisingly, this will give your employees more square footage of office workspace, not less. Instead of 28 square feet of work surface in the 8×8 L configuration, the employee using a 6×6 office cubicle in the U configuration will have 32 square feet of work surface – all in a footprint that is 16 square feet smaller. Plus, you should always try to incorporate existing sheet rock walls into the layout of your office cubicles. By using the office walls, you can avoid purchasing unnecessary panels.
If you look closely at the office layout and make these important revisions, you will find yourself with two new options – the ability to rent a smaller space that can fit the same amount of people, or the ability to fit more people in the original space by implementing a redesign of your office cubicles. Either way, you are saving a great deal on space and on rent.
Limit the Powered Components
You can also save money by minimizing the number of powered panels you place within each office cubicle. Powered panels will always be more expensive than those without power, so cutting back is a simple way to save money. You can limit the power to the panels along the spine of a set of cubicles. If your cubes are running against walls, you can take advantage of existing outlets on walls by utilizing power strips or by using the walls as part of the office cubicles themselves instead of panels.
Buy Used, Buy Clones, Buy Carefully
Finally, buying used panels or clones of name-brand office cubicles can save you money overall. Make sure when going this route that you work with a vendor that can stand behind its products by offering solid guarantees and extended warranties. Ask the vendor questions about its customer service policies and find someone that you feel comfortable working with. Ideally, the vendor will also be able to help you make intelligent decisions about the overall design and layout of your office cubicles.
If you are buying used panels, make sure that they are clean and in good shape. If you are buying clones, make sure that they are clones of well-known office cubicle brands and that they will hold up as well as the more expensive options. Avoid buying inexpensive furniture like what you might find in the big box stores. Such pieces are intended to be used in a home office and likely will not hold up in a business setting. This can cost you more money in the long term as you find you have to replace it much sooner than commercial grade furniture.
With creative design and purchase choices of your office cubicles, you can keep your employees happy and comfortable while you save money on both components and rent. It’s best if you can find a vendor that can advise you on office cubicle design and that can sell you products that are inexpensive and of high quality. In this way, you can create a productive, efficient office workspace that has benefits that go beyond the financial.
About the Author
Scott Chapman began his career as a sales manager for an international mail order company. After given the task of purchasing quality used office cubicles for a new sales office, Scott became frustrated at not finding a company that provided high-end used office cubicles with great customer service. As a result, he founded Panel Systems Unlimited in 1996. The company now has grown to become a national supplier of quality new and preowned systems furniture, and even works with very large name brand office furniture dealers who wish to supply their customers with expanded options. For more information, please visit www.panelsystemsunlimited.com.