Staff Reporter

Kiss your desk goodbye. Between telecommuting and so-called "hoteling," the workplace is undergoing some of its most dramatic changes in years.

Many companies, especially consulting and accounting firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte & Touche LLP, no longer see the need for the standard one-employee, one-desk setup.

"Accounting and consulting firms are moving to hoteling because people are spending more time at clients' sites, and traveling," said Loree Goffigon, who leads the office interior consulting division of Gensler Architecture's Los Angeles office. "They are optimizing real estate utilization and getting more bang from their buck. They look at their needs, and they wonder, 'Why should I pay for real estate for one person 100 percent of the time, if they're only there one-third of the time?"

That was thinking at Arthur Andersen LLP, which recently renegotiated its downtown lease, reducing its office space by 25,000 square feet and shedding almost two entire floors of offices, said John Rezzo, director of practice management for the Pacific Southwest region.

At the same time it reduces its office space from 175,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet, the company will add an additional 200 staff members.

"Even our executives will be in open space," said Rezzo. "And most of our people will be hoteling, meaning they'll use an electronic system where they walk up to a touch-screen pad, bring up a map, and reserve a space to use for the day."

Like many companies operating under similar arrangements, Arthur Andersen will use a system of carts or temporary storage for files and personal items. The reorganization means a drop from about 550 square feet per person to just 125 square feet per person, according to Whitley Collins, first vice president for CB Richard Ellis Inc.

A growing number of companies are looking to scale back to that range, said Ray Lepone, senior vice president at Grubb & Ellis Co., who helps corporate clients relocate or reconfigure their office space.

"Ten years ago, the average might have been 220 square feet per person, depending on the industry," he said. Now, "industries are trying to get down to 150 square feet per person."

In certain areas, such as telemarketing, companies need even less space than that only 60 square feet to 80 square feet per person.

"That means four people aren't there three days a week," Lepone said. "We've done an awful lot of talking about this in the last few years. We're just starting to see the tip of the iceberg."


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