The easy answer is: yes, most definitely – and we are talking about millions of euros in savings in the case of multinationals, but one needs to understand a particular concept and enforce a new way of designing an office space to make this happen. For most western European companies, regardless whether they house their employees in high-end innovative buildings or still enjoy the office space set up during the industrial revolution, there is one thing they have in common: traditional filing cabinets! And this is exactly where the huge potential for savings is incorporated. Savings can be made when traditional filing cabinets are replaced by a mobile storage systems. In simple terms, every static cabinet requires its own “handling space” while an innovative mobile storage system shares this handling space between multiple aisles, which results in up to 50% space saving. Now, there is a fair chance that you are still contemplating how this concept works for which I recommend to view this one-minute video.

If we simply need to replace traditional cabinets with mobile storage systems to save piles of money, then why isn’t everybody doing it?
Well, it requires a radical new way of designing an office space. In a traditional – and for most of us current – setting, a company starts arranging workspaces by “plugging in” desks and chairs. Next we throw in a few coffee corners and meeting rooms or vice versa. Finally we put in some cabinets in whatever remaining space is available as most businesses still have lots of paperwork that is not (yet) digitalised. If you are convinced that the paperless office is common practice or near future, then this blog about the paperless office by Igor La Vos, CEO of the Bruynzeel Storage Group,is definitely a must read. In order to implement a mobile storage system you or your architect needs to start with setting up a blueprint for the office that incorporates mobile storage from the initial design. By doing so you save 50% of storage space right from the start which enables you to either fit in more workplaces per square metre or have the direct savings of lower rental costs based on a smaller office footprint.

How does the 50% saving in storage space translate into hard cash?
Handling thousands of projects every year, we know the industry standard and average numbers pretty well. We can derive that 10% of an average office space is covered by storage. Knowing that a mobile storage system saves up to 50% of space, the end gain is 5% of office space. In order to translate this reduced office space into monetary value, we need to understand the total costs of an office space. In the 2013 report on Occupier Cost Index(OCI) published by AOS Studley we can calculate these costs backed by research including 3,400 buildings, 31m square metres of office space and 1.45 Million Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees. This OCI presents the median costs per FTE per year. In order to have a fair calculation we can only take into account space and infrastructure costs as the costs being affected when referring to reducing or regaining office space. These costs include the real estate costs, but also the costs for electricity, lighting and maintenance. Space and infrastructure cost represent between 47% and 72% of the total occupier cost depending on the country you are operating in. As a conservative estimate, accommodation costs account for 41% of spending on average across Europe, determined by AOS in an earlier study. However I prefer to not only take accommodation costs, but also infrastructure costs as this reflects the total cost of ownership. In addition we create the right mindset to talk about CO2 footprint reductions on which I will elaborate in my next blog.