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Seating Chart

Dear Dave
We have a nice kind of problem we would like your two cents on. About a year ago we moved into a brand new custom building we designed and had built. The building has two floors with our engineering firm on the second floor and the bottom floor available for lease to other tenants. We did this thinking that if at some far off future time we should ever need the extra space, we could take over the lower floor.

The problem is that none of us expected the growth that we have subsequently incurred since the planning and construction began. Now, only one year into our facility, we are about to run out of space on the top floor. Fortunately, there is still available space on the lower floor. Our problem is how do we split-up our company between the two floors?

We are organized into four engineering teams and an administrative team. Our first thought was to move one of the engineering teams to the first floor. When we brought this up for discussion, none of the teams was at all interested in being relocated away from the others over fear of becoming isolated. Some of the teams do occasionally share projects and staff back and forth and this would become more difficult if spread over two floors. The engineering teams want us to move administration to the first floor.

Moving the administration team would not gain us as much extra space on the second floor (they are the smallest group in terms of area), and the cost would be high to relocate print rooms, files, central computer room, etc. At the rate we are growing, we could still end up needing more space on the second floor within a few years. Based on my brief description of the issues, any ideas?

Dear MF
How about leaving the administrative team on the second floor, and moving two (not one) engineering teams to the first floor?
Yes, in the short run, you will end up taking on more space now by moving two teams instead of one, but by moving two teams down you can lessen the isolation factor, keep administration where it is to avoid the disproportionately high cost of relocating that particular group, and create some extra elbow room for additional growth going forward. From your situational description, it’s obvious you vastly underestimated your future needs. You don’t want to do it again by making too short-term of a decision and finding yourself fenced in by tenant leases when you once again run out of space.

In selecting the two engineering teams to move down to the first floor, select the two teams that have the most history/potential of sharing projects and staff back and forth. Be sure the first floor space build-out is in every way equal (or even above) in quality and comfort as the second floor so neither team selected to move feels diminished.

Wahby and Associates