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As business leaders rethink their corporate real estate footprint following the global pandemic, a good space management strategy has never been more important. Measuring and forecasting space utilization was challenging even before the mass exodus from the office.
Now, with many organizations making remote work a permanent option and considering flexible office space strategies, it’s even more complicated.
While your organization may have a space management process in place, if you experience minor heart palpitations every time someone mentions allocating space for growth or planning an office relocation, it’s probably time to revisit it.
One year into the global pandemic and several months into vaccinations, the idea of returning to the office is finally a more realistic prospect. Two-thirds of corporate real estate executives said they expect all employees to have access to an office by the middle of 2021, according to CBRE’s Future of the Office Survey. And in a recent Verdantix report, 90% of real estate leaders said social distancing and infection control were high priorities over the next 12 months.
Reconfiguring office spaces for physical distancing is nearly impossible if your organization doesn’t have digital floor plans and space management software that allows you to adjust them as needed.
The best software solutions take all the guesswork out of this process, automatically reconfiguring your spaces according to your distancing parameters.
Many organizations have been moving away from assigned seats for several years to improve space utilization as more employees work remotely. The pandemic accelerated this shift, prompting many companies to consider flexible seating strategies like hot desking or desk hoteling.
Successfully implementing these new seating arrangements requires an active space management strategy. First, your facilities team needs an accurate estimate of how many employees will continue working remotely and how often. Once you have a better idea of the need, you can determine whether your new, physically distanced work environment can accommodate everyone who wants to return or if you’ll need to assign employees to alternating shifts.
Because your office capacity will continue to fluctuate depending on the work people are doing, you’ll need an ongoing way to monitor space utilization.
That might involve using badge swipe data, a desk reservation system, or occupancy sensors. No matter how you choose to gather this data, you’ll need an easy way to view it.
Not having an available workspace ready for a new employee coming to the office for the first time creates a poor first impression. It might even cause them to doubt your commitment to them. If your organization struggles to find a spot for new hires, it’s usually because you’ve outgrown your existing space or you have no way of knowing which workspaces are available.
Space management software that makes it easy for all department managers to see what spaces are available is the first step to achieving a mature space management strategy. If you’ve decided not to give employees dedicated desks, you need to give them an easy way to find and reserve space from a mobile app.
Even before the pandemic, as much as 40% of corporate real estate space was going to waste. Poor space utilization can happen for many reasons. Employees in certain roles (like sales) may spend more time working off-site due to the nature of their job, leaving more space empty during the day. Your organization may have experienced fast growth in a particular area, followed by decline as the market changed and demand dwindled. Sometimes poor design is the culprit, too.
You may have several large conference rooms your workplace rarely uses because most meetings take place between just a few people at a time.
There might be collaborative areas employees rarely use because of an unreliable Wi-Fi connection.
Whatever the case, your space management strategy should be advanced enough to allow you to identify and address those issues. When you can see which conference rooms are reserved most often and which are seldom booked, you can begin to understand why. And you can make updates easily. You might decide to reconfigure one of your large conference rooms into two smaller ones or create several private “booths” employees can use if they need to make a phone call or have a serious discussion.
While there’s no denying energy costs are on the rise in general, some of your increases may be due to poor space management. The better your understanding of your workspaces and how they’re used, the better you can allocate resources to these areas.
By tracking space utilization, you may discover you’re paying to keep the lights on in a part of the building that’s only used a few times a month.
Better yet, by incorporating a meeting room booking system and occupancy sensors into your space management strategy, you can ensure you’re only paying to light and regulate the temperature of rooms while they’re in use.
In the same way, a solid space management strategy allows for more cost-effective facilities maintenance. This is especially important as you reopen offices following the pandemic and implement new protocols for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces.
This can have a significant impact on your overall costs unless your facilities team has visibility into actual demand. Sensors that integrate with your space management and maintenance software make it easy to see which areas have been occupied each day.
Your FM team can print an occupancy report and prioritize cleaning more efficiently.
Planning an office relocation is challenging even in the best of circumstances — but poor space management can make it even worse. Without a digital system in place, you’re left shuffling Post-It notes around paper floor plans and hoping for the best. It’s difficult to see how moving one group of employees will impact another until it actually happens.
The right space and move management software allows you to visualize different scenarios before you move a single piece of furniture.
You can change your office layout, move entire groups of employees at one time using drag-and-drop functionality, and see your new floor plan instantly.
You can also assign move tickets to the right team members, keep track of the project schedule, and notify employees when a move will impact them.
This can result in significant savings of cost and time. The corporate facilities manager for Sephora reduced the time it took to plan office moves by 95% after implementing our space and move management software.
As your company grows, you need to be able to forecast future space needs to plan capital investments.
You should be able to see your total square footage and occupancy by building, floor, and department and make projections based on anticipated growth. If your space management strategy doesn’t include collecting the right data and presenting it in a way that enables you to make informed decisions, your company’s future is in jeopardy.
The right space management solutions make it easy for everyone to see the space management metrics and KPIs that matter most to them.
Your corporate real estate team needs to see lease terms, expiration dates and space costs. They’ll also need to see the total square footage, capacity, and average occupancy rates for each property.
Your facilities management team will likely need more granular occupancy data to maintain appropriate capacity and allocate daily services like cleaning and dining.
And your executive team will want to see an overview of the impact on your costs and operations.
The right space management solution allows you to create customized reporting and dashboards so everyone always has access to the information they need.
You know you need to make changes, but you may not know where to start. Here are three steps you can take to better align your space management strategy to your business objectives.
Your short-term and long-term goals will determine the best way to move forward.
While your immediate goals may be reopening your offices and enabling a safe re-entry for employees, you’ll also need to consider how you will reduce real estate costs and provide a more engaging workplace experience for years to come.
Consider what employees need to perform at their best while they’re in the office. How will your space management strategy ensure they always have access to the right types of workplaces, conference rooms, and amenities?
Think back to how you managed office space prior to the pandemic.
How did your corporate real estate team allocate space as your company grew? How did the facilities and HR teams work together to find seating for new employees?
How did you approach cleaning? Report on space management data?
How do employees find and reserve space now, and what would make it easier for them?
Taking the time to consider your existing processes will help you determine who needs access to what information and when. This will also help you evaluate technology and ensure the solution you choose will work well for everyone.
The right space management solutions enable your organization to meet both short-term and long-term goals. iOFFICE’s space management software brings all your corporate real estate data and floor plans into a single platform. You can easily see your properties at a glance or zoom in to see individual floors and departments.
With Space-Right’s strategic planning feature, you can instantly reconfigure floor plans as needed to ensure the appropriate distance between workspaces. You can easily manage seating or assigned shifts.
This feature works within our suite of workplace management solutions so you can manage moves, reservations, building maintenance, and more.
This past year has brought about many shifts in the workplace, highlighting the need for more advanced technology to manage everything. Organizations that try to return to “business as usual” will lag behind, missing opportunities to reduce costs and create a more flexible, collaborative company culture.
There has never been a better time to reimagine your workplace, starting with your processes and solutions. If you’re serious about improving your space management strategy, our workplace technology assessment can help. When you answer a few simple questions, you’ll get a comprehensive report with your score and detailed recommendations.
Take the first step toward reimagining your workplace. Take our assessment today.
James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.