Effective space management helps organizations maximize existing corporate real estate by saving space and energy utilization, and improves employee satisfaction. But while this solution seems obvious, it’s often overlooked. In many cases, leaders are focused so much on business growth, recruitment and retention, they miss the money-saving power quite literally under their feet.
A well-formed space management strategy is critical to the health of an organization. But getting started isn’t always easy. To ensure you can fulfill your space optimization goals, ask yourself the following five questions.
1. How are we collecting and analyzing data?
Lack of data is problematic, but so is not using it effectively. With data, facilities leaders can identify how much space your organization has and project how much you will need in the future, including space allocations and chargebacks. But how are you collecting this data? And what happens once it’s been compiled?
If the answer includes using spreadsheets and paper floor plans, you need a major update to keep up with the competition. It’s a good time to implement a space management system that not only tracks your data, but keeps it in one database to aid analysis. Your data will be the underpinning of your space management strategy.
2. What areas are used least and what are the patterns?
Armed with a new set of space utilization data, facilities leaders can investigate how areas of the corporate campus are being used. Because wasted space means wasted money, the first places FMs will want to look are the empty ones.
What areas are underutilized by your workforce and why? Look at repetitive behavior to discover unoccupied areas. Don’t be afraid to ask your workforce about the black holes in your building. Chances are your employees will offer some practical insight that will help you design the best route out of an underused resource.
3. Are there enough flexible workspace options?
Start by considering whether there is a variety of engaging workspaces driven by your property, people and work culture. In the new age of work mobility, evaluating the flexibility of the workspace is important not only for employee efficiency, but also the future of your company.
If you’re still in the design phase, make sure you’re thinking ahead regarding the adaptability, diversity and mobility of the workspace to avoid major budget pitfalls like relocation. You need spaces that will support the growth and changes of your company over time; otherwise, your real estate could be a dead end for your business.
4. Are more people working remotely than expected?
Working from home has many benefits for your employees by offering greater flexibility and less time sitting in rush-hour traffic. And remote employees use fewer office resources — which can be great news for your budget.
For facilities leaders, a mobile workforce can translate to fewer but more highly utilized workstations, conference rooms and other important facilities. Prevent generic spaces at all costs, because they confuse your workers. Consider the following:
- How do your employees identify their territory on campus?
- When they’re on the move, what are the personal markers that can ground them in the space?
- What kind of storage do they need?
Flexible workspaces along with space management tracking will allow you to respond to the inevitable shifts in workforce that keep your company moving forward.
5. What days/times of day are spaces most populated and why?
Along with exposing vacant or underutilized areas, you’ll want to identify the spaces that are most popular. Consider the following:
- What rooms are employees using most for meetings?
- What aspects of the space make it attractive?
- Which areas are most congested?
- What areas can you repurpose to create the most efficient office flow?
As you designate workspaces, keep in mind adaptability is key. This will save spaces from being overused, raking in unwanted costs in repair and equipment replacement.
Savings, no matter how great, are not a substitute for strategy. Mismanaging or ignoring space utilization can be the silent killer of a company. Successful space optimization, however, will improve employee morale and productivity, and contribute to positive growth and collaborative opportunities across your organization.