Space Utilization Metrics: The Who, What, Where and How
So, you have finally decided to take the plunge and invest in an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). Congratulations- you’ve taken the first step in gaining a more intelligible understanding of the inner workings of your company, it’s processes, and the people. Well-defined metrics and dashboard analytics will offer you a quick glance at how your company is performing and if it’s on track to meet performance goals. But what and who exactly should you be tracking?
Getting Started with Space Utilization Metrics
One of your primary goals in investing in this software was likely to shrink the budget and increase profits, right? Before you start measuring and analyzing data collected, your first step will be to gain a firm understanding of how the space is currently being used. In the planning stages of the software integration process, you should have identified company objectives, both short and long term. Initially, this will ensure you align yourself with a company whose platform can help you realize those goals. Future metrics will aid you in determining how your actions measure up to those strategic objectives. These metrics will help illustrate how activities of the real estate and facilities group support tactical operational goals and provide reliable, objective data for decisions, budgets, and resource allocations.
What Are Your Overall Real Estate Costs and Terms?
Part of your ongoing duties as the facilities manager is to identify ways to trim the fat off the company budget. As more companies adopt flexible, mobile options for their employees, company real estate has become one of the most efficient ways to cut costs and increase spending efficiency. To do so, FMs must first answer some basic questions regarding company real estate:
- What space does our company own and/or lease?
- What are the costs associated with this space? (Break it down into cost/square foot)
- If the space is leased, what are the terms of contract?
By understanding the total square footage, cost per square foot, total value, and lease terms, you are providing the building blocks for understanding how the space is used and where costs can be cut.
Now that you know how much space you have, it’s time to gather the information regarding how the space is actually being used. How is your workforce using the available space? Are employees highly mobile, so multiple occupants on a daily or weekly basis occupy the space? To gain an accurate understanding as to how the space is being used and by whom, you must have an accurate way of determining who is where. But first, you must determine how exactly you want your people, places, and things tracked:
- How do you want to track your employees?
- Do you want to track assets (e.g. computers, printers, furniture)?
- Do you want to tie assets to a building/workspace and/or individual employees?
Our clients have had success collecting data such as:
- Employee’s first and last name
- Department assigned
- Building or office space occupied
- Furniture or assets utilized
- The number of employees and contractors, as well as their locations
- The total number of spaces - offices, workstations, desktops, meeting rooms
- The number of occupied (claimed) spaces
- The percentage of actual space used
- The percentage of space used by department or user group
Gathering such information provides you an accurate head count and uncovers important information regarding actual usage of space. From there, you can determine if the space is currently being utilized efficiently and forecast against the company’s future goals to determine if you have too much space or not enough, and if a move or office redesign would be the appropriate action.
Delving Deeper into Real Estate Costs
Now that you have an accurate measurement as to how your workforce is currently using the space, you can determine exactly how much each square foot costs and identify strategies accordingly. The following data will help you identify what strategies will work best, as well as track progress once changes have been implemented:
- Costs per square foot
- Costs per person per square foot
- Operational costs per square foot (for example: utilities, maintenance, cleaning, and security)
These findings will help your FM team determine if popular workspace trends such as telecommuting and hot-desking are viable options. Whatever strategy you decide to implement, further spatial analysis will offer you important metrics and reporting options to compare expenses both before and after new policies are enforced.
Space is One of Your Most Valuable Tools
“Workplace design has evolved to be far more than simply accommodating employees while keeping overhead costs down. Physical space plays a key role in attracting and retaining employees, and it’s a means of communicating the unique brand of the company to workers and customers alike.” -Sascha Wagner
Your company’s real estate not only represents one of highest portions of the budget, it is also considered one of the most valued tools. The office space directly impacts company culture and inspires innovation and collaboration. When developing workspace strategies, it is important to keep your workforce, as well as overall goals of what you are trying to achieve, in mind. If you’re looking to encourage the workforce to collaborate on projects, an office filled with cubicles will not be the best use of space. Consider the big picture and remember that what’s good for one company, may be completely the opposite for another. Once you have implemented your new strategies, review employee performance and productivity regularly to determine the impact this new space has made on the team. Remember that the needs of your team and the efficiency of the workspace will evolve over time, as goals are met and new goals are established, so consistent spatial analysis should be performed.
As companies look for ways to tighten their budgets and increase profits, many FMs are realizing the value of Facilities Management software such as the space management module. These tools provide detailed information regarding how space is used, breaking it down by user, room type, department, floor by floor, and the whole building. These details offer FM teams solid data and solutions on how best to leverage their real estate assets to communicate company culture and enhance employee productivity, making it a tool for transformation and growth.