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As corporate real estate leaders, facilities managers, and others reimagine their workplace for the future, office space planner jobs are in high demand.
A space planner brings expertise in designing and optimizing office space to improve collaboration and space utilization.
This is especially helpful at large organizations with multiple buildings and hundreds or thousands of employees, where smarter space management can save millions of dollars each year.
The responsibilities of an office space planner are often an extension of the role of a facilities manager, but because facilities managers wear so many hats already, there are advantages to hiring someone specifically for this purpose.
If you’re considering it, here’s what you need to know.
In organizations that already have dedicated corporate real estate and facilities teams, a space planner serves as a liaison between these groups and your buildings’ end users — employees and customers.
Office space planners often have backgrounds in architecture, facilities management, or other relevant experience. They may also have credentials as a certified facility manager (CFM) or be certified in computer-aided design (CAD) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
A space planner plays an important role in addressing immediate needs in your workplace while developing and executing your long-term real estate strategy.
While daily responsibilities might include finding workspaces for new employees, managing room and desk reservations, and reconfiguring space as needed, they should always be focused on future real estate needs.
That means their role also includes:
Author Wes McGregor sums up what a space planner does in his book, Facilities Management and the Business of Space.
“Second only to the customer, the space planner is possibly the most key member of the accommodation planning team charged with converting the organizational and building data and its analysis into proposals for a workplace environment.”
The national average salary for a space planner in the United States is about $62,000, according to Glassdoor. Those in a management role earn more — $89,000 on average. As with any position, it’s important to take into account previous experience and the scope of responsibilities. A space planner at a company with 20 offices and 5,000 employees worldwide will expect to earn more than they would at a company with only five offices and 500 employees.
Relevant work experience is important and certifications are helpful, but to find the best space planner, it’s also important to look for qualities that aren’t necessarily listed on a resume.
Here are five important qualities to consider.
A great space planner understands the big picture of what your organization wants to achieve and can translate it into action plans. That includes helping your company adapt to new ways of working, such as embracing the hybrid workplace and designing spaces that will attract Millennials and Gen Z while still supporting older employees.
A space planner needs to be able to collect, analyze and act upon workplace data from a variety of sources. That includes data from reservations, mobile apps, and occupancy sensors as well as more subjective data, such as responses to employee surveys.
Technology is crucial to effective space management. Today’s space planners are moving away from printed blueprints and embracing computer-aided design, space management software, sensors, and other solutions.
They should be skilled at using this technology to monitor occupancy, manage seating, and plan office moves, renovations, or consolidations.
They should also be accustomed to reporting on the space utilization metrics that matter most to your organization, including:
Because workplaces today are moving away from assigned seats in favor of flexible seating strategies, a good space planner should also be skilled at using technology to help employees find available spaces and reserve them.
Space planners review many documents, including floor plans, move scenarios, and seating charts. They need to be able to keep them all organized and find them at a moment’s notice.
The right software solution makes this much easier, but a good space planner still needs a good system for managing a constant influx of information and ever-changing priorities. They might receive hundreds of emails each week, along with move requests and department headcounts. They should be able to keep track of it all without losing critical information.
Space planners need to collaborate with department leaders throughout your organization to meet your needs today and create an accurate forecast for the future.
To get the right information, they need to communicate their requests clearly, ask the right questions, respond promptly, and clarify any misunderstandings.
In many cases, space planners also need to be able to present data to your leadership team to justify a new office design or lease. They should be able to build rapport and gain consensus to move these initiatives forward.
A great space planner is a valuable asset to your organization, and with the right space management software, they’ll be exponentially more effective.
Space management software makes it easy for space planners and other workplace leaders to see occupancy by building, floor, or department and monitor trends over time.
The best solutions also make it easy to manage moves and reservations, optimize cleaning, and more.
iOFFICE’s space management software combines intelligent space management, strategic planning, and forecasting in a single platform. You can easily manage seating arrangements, integrate with reservation software for flexible seating, and update your floor plans with drag-and-drop functionality.
And with our intelligent space planning feature, Space-Right™, you can reconfigure floor plans instantly to maintain a greater distance between workspaces. This is essential for managing a safe return to the office and managing a hybrid workplace for years to come.
Whether you’re considering hiring a space planner or promoting someone to this role within your organization, make sure you equip them with the tools they need to be successful.
James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.