Until now, facilities managers have only been able to assume that when a particular space was booked during a specified time that it was indeed occupied. This isn't always the case. Plans change, but the FM isn't always notified about the changes. There are a number of reasons why actual occupancy is important. A focus on tracking the actual use of space can lead to huge improvements in space utilization over time. Here are the reasons why tracking space based on actual use versus assignment is a critical part of the facilities manager's responsibilities, and how the right facilities management software solution can help.
Actual Space Occupancy is a Security Issue
Who is in the building? What are they doing? Are these trusted members of your organization or outsiders you know little or nothing about? If there were to be an emergency, such as fire or tornado warning, does the space need to be evacuated or do the people need to be notified of unfolding events in order to be kept safe? All of these issues and more highlight the safety and security issues of determining when a space is actually occupied versus just booked for a specific time. Does your system depend on the swipe of a security badge to track occupancy? Perhaps you need more advanced monitoring systems to know for sure who is where within your properties.
Actual Space Occupancy is a Resource Planning Issue
How often is a space used? For what purposes? What supplies and/or equipment are needed to host those types of activities? Do you have enough space like that one, or is too much of that type of space going unused? How often does the space need to be cleaned and/or restocked with supplies? Answering these questions allows you to budget properly, plan for the future, and distribute resources more efficiently. As much as 50 percent of a company's owned spaces can sit unused -- essentially wasted. The right FM solution will allow you to track usage, verify that spaces are used for the purposes they were assigned for, and give you the resources to plan ahead for future space needs.
Actual Space Occupancy is a Budget Issue
Many spaces are tied to charges of some kind. For example, you might be renting out the space and need to invoice a lessee. Alternately, departments within a company can be charged back for the use of conference rooms, training facilities, and other spaces, and it's important to be able to identify when the room was actually used by a department to make sure these charge backs are accurate. For example, if your sales team consumes all of the printer paper in a conference room or an outside organization rents a space that later requires repairs, you need a way to accurately charge back for these costs.
Actual Space Occupancy is an Employee Satisfaction Issue
Are the facilities meeting the needs of your employees? Are there enough restrooms near meeting rooms, conference rooms, and training rooms? Is there access to coffee, soft drinks, water, or other refreshments? Can handicapped workers get to the space without any trouble? Do people avoid a certain room or area because of one of these issues? Happy workers are productive workers. Knowing how your facilities are used, as well as how and why they are not used, can be an important factor in employee retention rates.
The right facilities management software allows you to track who uses spaces, how they use it, and how often a specific type of use is requested (such as ordinary business meetings versus training programs or office parties). Armed with this information, your company can invest in the right kinds of spaces, furnish them appropriately, stock them adequately, and provide spaces that are 100 percent in line with the needs of those who depend on these spaces.
Fortunately, it is not difficult at all to gather this data and to know when groups that reserve the facilities actually show up to use them. Space management software is the ideal solution to these and many other facilities management issues. This software can identify usage patterns, gather insightful data on space use within your organization, and give you a heads up when it's time to plan for new facilities as the organization grows. Have you entered the 21st century of facilities and space management?