10 + 1 Reasons to Measure Office Space Utilization

July 29, 2020

Last week, I sent a narrative on some new ways we are working with our clients to measure space utilization (click here to read).  I got quite a few responses about the topic from Real Estate facilities people (and a CEO) asking why we would incorporate new measurements into their spaces when they have corporate mandates they are trying to follow.  I found the below article and a report on Optimaze Workplace Review (click here to read the whole report) and thought they were great in answering those questions. 
 

  • In CRE there is disruption going on.  What we have done in the past is not what we are doing now nor will it be what we do in the future.  We cannot become dinosaurs and I believe upper management is looking for us to continue to disrupt how we lease and build out office space.  Or as Maija says below—Support Change Management.
  • Office space is the second-largest expense, behind employees. There is always continued pressure to lower costs.  
  • Something that is not new, but that we are focused on more than ever, is designing space to match how the work is being done.  I will add that we are also looking at how the work will be done in the future.
  • We are still wasting space.  Lots of it. Most companies are still allocating one space per person when most of the time on average only 55% of the workstations are being used.
  • 65% of the time workers are doing heads-down work—not collaborating.  How we design our space should take this into account.  People are searching for some privacy.
  • And one green reason:  Tracking space utilization can help you save energy. If Fridays are pretty slow, maybe employees only work on 3 floors, instead of 4 and you can keep the lights off and AC up.

Read below or click above for more reasons.  Of course, I have also highlighted some thought-provoking ideas as well.  These are some of the values we bring to our clients.  Call us when you are thinking about your office space.

Craig
602.954.3762
ccoppola@leearizona.com


10 + 1 Reasons to Measure Office Space Utilization

Maija Patjas, director of Rapal’s Workplace Management Services, outlines eleven reasons that various companies, schools and other organizations have identified as their motivation for measuring the space utilization rates of their premises. 

By Maija Patjas

April 24, 2018



Why do managers, facility and property professionals, designers and workplace consultants choose to conduct a space utilization study?
 
My team and I work with clients across a wide range of industries. Differing in size, representing a variety of cultures and located around the world, they all have at least one thing in common – they measure and monitor their space utilization, work activities, meeting sizes and much more, using Optimaze Measure. In other words, all these organizations share the understanding that you need good, solid data to back up your business decisions – also when it comes to managing office space.

The reasons why clients measure their office space utilization varies, of course, from company to company.  Below, you will find the top eleven reasons for conducting a space utilization measurement.
 

1. REDUCING COSTS

For almost every organization working in an office environment, premises are the second largest cost after personnel. Office space utilization measurements help you confirm whether you have the right kind of premises and whether you really need all the square meters you are currently using.

Work is becoming more mobile and people are spending less time at their workstations.  According to our global Optimaze Workplace Review, on average 53% of workstations are utilized or temporarily unoccupied. When moving or renovating your work environment, it is often also possible to use space more efficiently.

Measurements can help you achieve tens of percent more savings than a personnel survey alone. In personnel surveys, workers typically estimate spending 70-80 percent of their time at their workstation when the real figure is often closer to 50 percent.  Measurements give you precise data on space utilization and help you scale your premises correctly.
 
 

The utilization rate is a key figure when evaluating and monitoring the efficiency of the workspaces. (Source: Rapal’s Optimaze Workplace Review 2018 benchmark report.) 

2. SUPPORTING WORKPLACE CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Studies show that the most important factor in a successful work environment change process is securing the commitment and involvement of the personnel. Communicating with your organization and making people feel involved is vital when you are asking your organization to move premises or adapt to a redesigned work environment. The information gained from space utilization measurements, activity observation and employee surveys will help you justify the changes, and promote discussion between management and personnel.

3. UNDERSTANDING WORK PATTERNS

Work patterns today are typically divided according to personnel mobility: fixed, campus mobile, and mobile. The terms themselves vary, but they indicate how much time a person spends in the office and how much of that time they spent at their own workstation. Identifying these patterns will make it easier to see what kinds of workstations are required. Often the profiles are also used to support space dimensioning plans, and when considering IT requirements and remote working practices. The best way to identify work patterns is to analyze your space utilization and conduct a personnel survey.

4. DETERMINING SPACE REQUIREMENTS

When your company first begins to consider future space solutions, such as conducting a refurbishment of office space or looking for new premises, a space utilization measurement is the fastest and most cost-effective way of evaluating space requirementsConducting an activity observation simultaneously allows you to see how fit for purpose your workspace actually are, and what changes you need to make to better support daily work.
 

Different activities require different kinds of spaces: you should also measure the activities

5. EVALUATING THE SUCCESS OF WORK ENVIRONMENT CHANGES

Measurements enable you to analyze whether you achieved the targets set for your working environment change project. Two examples of such targets could be cost savings or premises that suit your personnel’s working habits better. The results will show how efficiently you are using your space and whether you have the right number of fit for purpose workstations.

Space utilization measurements can also be used to further develop premises. Software development, for example, involves many iterations before a product is launched, with further developments made based on customer feedback. Adopting such an approach for workplace development could be very beneficial, too.

6. ASSESSING THE FUNCTIONALITY OF AN ABW OFFICE

The majority of modern offices are Activity Based Working (ABW) offices, and they are continually growing in number. ABW offices are divided into different types of areas, such as quiet spaces, shared workstations, break rooms and conference rooms that employees can choose according to their needs, maybe using a number of different spaces during the day. When workspaces are properly designed, they will support different tasks and ways of working.

It is a good idea to measure space utilization in ABW offices at least once a year. Particularly in organizations that are introducing ABW and/or shared workstations for the first time, more changes may be needed as personnel adopt new practices. Measurements will help you to identify where there is a need for improvement (such as incorrectly sized conference rooms) and enable you to make corrections, so there will be no fall in productivity due to, for example, a lack of quiet spaces.

Continual measurements can be used to identify any miscalculations in your space set up, enabling you to correct the situation before productivity or personnel satisfaction suffers.
 

Space utilization measurements show the mismatch between the sizes of meeting spaces, and the sizes of groups that use them. (Source: Rapal’s Optimaze Workplace Review 2018 benchmark report.

7. CONSERVING ENERGY

Continual space utilization measurements will provide you with information on trends that can help you save energy. For example, during the holiday season, workers can be directed to work on only four floors rather than five floors. As remote working becomes increasingly popular, it is common for only about half of personnel to be present on Fridays. They could then use only part of the available space. Modern building automation enables you to, for example, turn out the lights and turn down the air conditioning in unused spaces. This will save energy.

8. OPTIMIZING SERVICES

Utilization rate trends will also enable you to scale your services correctly. For example, you can estimate how much food to reserve for your canteen on various days, or order a more intensive level of cleaning on days when more workers are present. This will also generate savings by reducing food wastage, and a higher standard of cleaning will increase comfort levels in the workplace.

9. IMPROVING STRATEGIC WORKPLACE MANAGEMENT

Organizations that have a systematic, continuous process of measuring and improving their workplace performance are able to create flexible and future-proof workplace solutions.

10. SUPPORTING BUSINESS DECISION

Conducting a workplace analysis, which combines data collected through a space utilization study with information on work patterns, user preferences and employee communication methods, will give you company-specific facts you can use to build a business case or make strategic decisions related to the working environment.

+1: ENRICHING SENSOR BASED DATA

Organizations that are using sensors to help employees, for example, find free workspaces or locate a colleague, can integrate the utilization data from monitors with observation data on work activities. This enriched information assists in improving the working environment.

ARE YOU READY TO MEASURE YOUR SPACE UTILIZATION?

These are the most important reasons for measuring space utilization. The next time you’re considering altering your premises or hiring a working environment consultant to make changes for you, remember to insist on a space utilization measurement. It will pay for itself many times over.

Want to find out what is happening in the workplace globally? Download the Optimaze Workplace Review – a benchmark report based on the results of hundreds of observational workplace studies. If you are interested in hearing more about how Optimaze Measure works, book a free 30-minute demo now.

Don’t forget: you can measure the biggest benefits of flex work in the happiness and well-being of the workforce and their implications on productivity. Workplace strategies are important for retention, employee satisfaction and even success! If one of your goals is to have a happier, more productive, and healthier workforce, creating a flex work program that suits your company’s needs maybe just the ticket. And it might just save you on real estate costs, too!

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