16/08/2005 - 22:00

Space squeeze on for CBD offices

16/08/2005 - 22:00


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Perth office users are squeezing the most out of their tenancies in a contracting office-leasing market, decreasing the average amount of space used per employee.

Space squeeze on for CBD offices

Perth office users are squeezing the most out of their tenancies in a contracting office-leasing market, decreasing the average amount of space used per employee.

The average amount of workspace per employee, according to the Property Council Perth office space use survey, has declined from 19.3 square metres in 2003-04 to 18.6sq m in 2004-05, and is forecast to decline to 17.8sq m in 2005-06.

In the current leasing climate of almost record low vacancies and record high absorption of space by tenants, occupiers of office space are being forced to wait until a new office development is completed, at least three years away.

Organic growth within companies has driven most of the absorption of office space during the past year.

The Property Council survey showed that the lowest space users were: the construction sector at 13sq m per employee; IT and telecommunications with 17sq m per employee; property services at 17.2sq m; and government/ health services at 17.8sq m.

The highest allocations of space were in the resources sector (20.7sq m), legal and accountancy (19.7sq m), and other business and professional services (19.3sq m).

The survey also found that 30 per cent of office space in the CBD was used for individual offices and 70 per cent of office space for work stations. In West Perth, 45 per cent of office space in is used for individual offices compared with 55 per cent for work stations.

Blake Thornton Smith principal Benjamin Blake said the outcomes of the Property Council survey were no real surprise, although he expected the space usages to be higher.

The resources sector’s space usage was understandable, Mr Blake said, because the nature of the work required project plans and hard copy files to be located in offices, and a reasonable space was required to do this.

“Companies are trying to establish what their priorities are and plans to get efficiencies in space are very high on the agenda,” he said.

“Although, space saved in planning is often given back in better staff facilities – offices now have a balance between a working place, meeting places and staff hubs that involve getting away from the desk – the shift is towards having a work area and supporting that with alternatives.”

Mr Blake said office tenancies now were much more sophisticated than in the 1980s, and were much better geared up to deliver services.

“A lot of companies have built in strategies to allow themselves to organically grow, and planning of offices has been at the sharp end for the last decade,” he said.

“The problem is that a lot of places are growing faster than even their best plans could have allowed for five years ago.”

In May, B Digital moved from its premises at Sheraton Court to 1 Adelaide Terrace (former Woodside Building, and now B Building).

Manager of sales and service operations, Steve Mitchinson, said the allocation of space per employee was a very low 9.8sq m.

“This is only achievable because 80 per cent of our space is call centre related, but we really have gotten the best use out of the space through architecturally designed work stations and good space planning,” Mr Mitchinson said.

“We are very comfortable and have had the opportunity to put people where they should be.”

He said B Digital secured its lease at the right time, late last year when most of 1 Adelaide Terrace was empty.

“Good space is now extremely hard to find and rents are skyrocketing; we certainly got in at the right time,” Mr Mitchinson said.

“We took some extra space for growth and have had no problem sub leasing it.”



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