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    How to Develop a Space Forecasting Strategy That Reduces Costs

    Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

    Careful, consistent management of usable physical spaces is one of the greatest methods for managing your overall costs, yet is often one of the easiest bottom line adjusters to be overlooked. When managing space, many factors, such as the layout of the space, ease of use, planning for usage, and overall amount of usage will naturally be the first areas to be focused upon. But the continual monitoring and managing should also be used to anticipate potential expansion, contraction, or remodels of existing spaces, and changes of location, as needed. Looking to the future using real time data is key to creating strategies for space use, which will positively impact the bottom line.

    Getting Started

    Replace floor plans with Space Management Software to Reduce Costs

    The first step, once you have installed and are regularly using a Space Management tool, is to gather data on how and when the space is currently being used. By having a more complete picture of the money being spent on the actual facility and equipment, a plan can be formulated for potential growth, replacement of outdated or ineffective equipment, consolidation of existing space, or allocating new uses for the existing space. Keep in mind, much of the savings which can be gleamed from Space Management software revolve around finding the most effective uses of what you already have, while planning for how the space will be used in the future.

    Standards of Usage

    Another critical aspect of the space management forecasting process is to establish norms for usage that all parties can agree on. This establishes a reliable base for data, therefore making predictions more reliable as well as giving insight into immediate fixes for the existing process. For instance, referring to a master calendar that is in synch with your space management software, of usage will help avoid double booking of space ferrets out usage voids, and can show trends in weekly and monthly usage.

    Not making the most of the space can sometimes be a communication issue, which can be solved once everyone is aware of the space usage plan. This is also a great opportunity to bring your team together and develop a more cohesive culture within your organization; and a team working together will always be more effective and will yield greater results.

    Streamlining the Processes

    Before re-designing the space(s) you own or lease, look to the data gathered from the Space Management software to see what areas are used the most and how these spaces can be used most effectively in the future. How can the floor plan make more sense for the work being done? Where do employees congregate and can that be used to an advantage? How can an open floor plan boost conversation and creativity? Are there traffic patterns which could be more productive for the company flow? By asking the right questions, you can predict with greater accuracy and make the necessary adjustments.

    In the 2000s, facility mangers in both the Federal government and private sector typically thought they needed 200 to 400 square feet per person to build an effective office workspace. Based on GSA research, today’s prevailing standard workspace average is a little more than 190 USF square feet per person, and the space allocation could hit a mere 60 square feet in the next 5 years.

    This can also be a great time to enlist the help of your team, thus continuing to grow their confidence and cohesiveness. Feeling as they are a valued part of the team will strengthen the resolve of team members to be actively engaged while at work. This leads to greater productivity and a boost to the bottom line. Then, if you do determine a change is needed, you can tailor it to your organization, the type of employees and the kind of work being done, based on the continued data gathered with the Space Management tools.

    Continuing to Look Ahead

    Even though change is a constant, Space Management software should still be used to continue to build a comprehensive plan. Organizations should always be able to utilize the data of how the space is being used and make adjustments as necessary. By continuing to plan and look to the future, you will find that problems are much more negotiable.

    Equally, you can track the usage of the new spaces for comparisons on which improvements were best and can be the most effective in the future.

    To make the most of your company’s square footage (and budget), you must develop a space strategy that reflects the workplace culture, as well as business objectives. Flexibility and accurate data are essential elements in the spatial planning process, both now and looking towards the future. Consider the needs of each department, as well as the goals of the company regarding growth, as each will expand exponentially over the coming years. Each component will, however, grow at differing rates, so be vigilant in examining past and present usage of each component when strategizing. Remember - good space planning is derived from an effective business plan!

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    Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

    Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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