An article on LinkedIn today about the Great Office Space Debate (open layout vs. closed) reminded me of one of the potentially largest and yet most overlooked opportunities to derive Maximum Total Value from information management: the ability to reduce or eliminate the amount of office space that is eaten up by file cabinets and boxes of hard copy records.
Reclaiming this space not only makes it possible to add more employees without having to pay for more square footage, but it also lessens the risk of being cited by the local fire marshal. Now, I realize this latter point may sound as over-the-top as the former point is logical. But I know of at least one case where fire exits were blocked to such a degree that the organization actually got written up. This sort of cost hardly ever shows up in an information system’s ROI analysis, but here it turned out to be the actual catalyst of change
The photo accompanying this post (taken and used with permission) shows the hallway outside the accounting department at the client site I visited two weeks ago. To their credit, they know there is a better way of doing things. But they are generating so many records at such a pace that it has been all they can do to mark the folders properly and find a place to put the boxes. Now that the file room is full and the hallways are filling up, they have broadened what began as an investigation of a new ERP system to include document, records, and even database solutions as well. To them I say bravo.
My point here is this: many things that on the surface appear to be issues related to facilities management often can be addressed through information management instead. (When, where, and how to install MFPs is another in terms of managing copier acquisition, maintenance, and disposal. But that’s a column for another day.) When it comes to office layouts, the decision to build walls or install cubicles has its roots in where those workspaces are to be located – this can be greatly affected by the way records and information is handled.
Have you ever calculated the value of reclaiming some of your office space? What did you find out? Let me know by adding a comment below or shooting me an e-mail. And if I can help you develop the magic numbers, let me know that too!