3 Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Space Management Strategy

by Glenn Hicks on October 18, 2017

Dieting and space management have a lot in common. The most important “metric” in dieting is the ratio of calories in to calories out. And when you have a set limit on the number of calories you can consume each day, you want to make sure you’re making the most of those calories and investing them in the places where you’ll see the greatest benefit.

It’s the same with space management. Because you only have a certain amount of real estate available, you want to be confident every square foot is not only being utilized but that it’s also being utilized in ways that are best for productivity and achieving the goals of the company.

If you’re dieting and want to maximize the amount of protein you take in and identify places in your plan where you can decrease the amount of fat you ingest, you’re more likely to use a mobile app instead of a physical food diary, right? And you’ll probably take advantage of what today’s experts say is the most effective way to burn calories and not use outdated advice, too.

So doesn’t it make sense to apply these same principles to your space management strategy? In this article, we’ll discuss three bad habits that could be hurting your space management strategy and what you should do instead.

Space data is complex - too complex to track in excel. With space management software, FMs can track real-time data.Using Excel to Manage Facilities Data

Excel is a powerful tool when you’re dealing with relatively simple information that doesn’t change too frequently. But when it comes to space management (where there are countless data points, all of which change daily) Excel won’t cut it.

Rather than inputting data manually into a program not designed for facilities management and making your company more susceptible to human error, considering investing in space management software. Space management software provides the facilities team access to real-time data about the types of available workspaces, how those spaces are being used and who is using those workspaces.

Excel files can get very cumbersome, very quickly. And sometimes trying to open and edit a large Excel file can take so long you have time to grab a cup of coffee, check in with a colleague and take a bathroom break before it’s finally done saving. Plus, only one person can edit an Excel doc at a time.

But with space management software, information about space occupancy and square footage for a floor, building or entire real estate portfolio is instantly available and substantially easier to update. Plus, although you can make some pretty nifty charts and graphs in Excel, they pale in comparison to the analytics dashboards you can build in a space management platform.

FMs need to make sure they're focusing on the right space metrics, like number of rooms and employees.Focusing on the Wrong Metrics

Traditionally, facilities leaders concentrated on details such as cost per square foot, density or the total cost of space. And while these metrics are certainly important, they don’t offer enough insight to make impactful, portfolio-level decisions.

Instead, your space management strategy should focus on the following:

  • Daily and Average Peak Utilization
  • Percentage of Space Occupied, Available and Reservable
  • Number of Rooms and Employees
  • Square Footage by Room
  • Cost Per Employee

With this information, you’ll be able to see a broader view of your real estate portfolio, which makes it easier to identify potentially wasted space and, in turn, opportunities for cost savings. And considering real estate accounts for a large percentage of an enterprise’s expenses, the more places you can save money, the better.

Being Too Short-Sighted

Dietitians and fitness experts warn against weighing yourself too frequently because it skews your perception of your progress. And if you make decisions to change your habits based on too little data, you could be counteracting your efforts.

It’s obviously important to check your space utilization numbers regularly, but the decisions you make using this information should be based on what will benefit the enterprise in both the short-term and the long-term. Don’t just consider monthly or quarterly utilization goals—think about what you’ll need next year or three years from now and forecast accordingly.

As you analyze the data, ask yourself:

  • What will future square footage and headcount needs be if we expand at X rate or Y rate?
  • How do these needs compare to what the business currently has?
  • How is the company going to meet these demands?

Knowing the answers to these questions is especially important if your business is growing rapidly. When you start exceeding available space, you’ll be a lot happier knowing you have a well thought out plan based on accurate data rather than trying to scramble to find room for employees when you’re already bursting at the seams.

Just as the most difficult part of starting a diet is not sabotaging yourself by sticking with your unhealthy routine, the most challenging part of effective space management is ditching outdated technology and outdated processes. As you leave behind your old ways, take it slow and provide plenty of time for your team to adjust. An overhaul of space utilization processes requires time, effort and executive support. And rushing into it makes you more vulnerable to sliding back into bad habits.

For more information on how to maximize workspace and bolster efficiency, download this free eBook: The Great Workplace Space Race.


Glenn Hicks

A member of the Business Development team, Glenn has years of experience with business process improvement on the Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Management sides.

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