Is tracking office furniture really that important?

by Elizabeth Dukes on February 27, 2013

Should facilities managers track furniture with facilities management software?Facilities managers are responsible for processes across organizations, from tracking incoming business documents to making sure new hires have space to work on their first days. At the same time, they are tasked with following the path of equipment as it travels through departments and reordering supplies to avoid shortages. In the throes of a workday, it might be difficult for building occupants to understand why they need to leave office chairs in their correct spots or see the importance of reporting equipment trades to facilities managers.

Tracking office furniture is very important to successful facilities operations, and here are a few reasons why:

1. Prevent shortages

A facilities manager’s job is to make a building run as lean and efficiently as possible, which means eliminating excess and utilizing resources to their full potential. Often, this translates to companies possessing just the right amount of real estate, desk space and office furniture for the maximum number of occupants expected on a given day – no more, no less. Yet, they must also account for flux. There will be office events that draw in more people or occasions when building capacity is extremely low.

Facilities managers must ensure there are enough chairs to accommodate occupants on any given day, or productivity could take a hit.

“When you give people the right tools, they’re more productive,” said Mona Hoffman of Kimball Office, as quoted by Facilities Net.

Imagine a scenario in which a building has just enough chairs to match desk space plus seats in conference rooms. But, the office has been creating collaborative areas for impromptu meetings to streamline workflow and support teamwork. Employees often pull chairs from the empty desks of remote staff members. This is no problem if occupants are actually out of the office, but it can cause issues if they are actually in the building and step away for a moment only to come back and discover their seats are missing. Then, those employees will need to track down the FM to get replacements, wait for chairs to be returned or find another seat that’s not being used for the day.

Asset tracking software can help facilities managers monitor the location of office chairs and every other piece of equipment, furniture and supply used in the building. With this information, they can make smarter decisions about the facility’s needs.

2. Avoid excess

With real-time data about assets like office chairs, facilities managers can make fact-based decisions about whether the office will benefit from additional pieces that are easy to move from dedicated meeting rooms to collaborative spaces, or that there are in fact enough on hand at any given time. This data can prevent FMs from pumping funds into investments that will ultimately create a furniture surplus.

For instance, an H&R Block location in Kansas City, Missouri, was able to streamline its office furniture supply by evaluating the way space was being used, according to Today’s Facility Manager. Julie Robinson, facility operations manager for the building, explains that the firm invested in pieces that could be used in small rooms, slightly larger meeting areas and expansive training spaces, depending on daily needs.

“Many of our FM customers are looking for multi-purpose furniture,” Samantha Swick of OM Workspace told the source. “They want conference room furniture that can be flipped into training room furniture that is easily moveable.”

When FMs understand these needs through better tracking, they can anticipate and plan accordingly to boost efficiency and occupant satisfaction.

3. Reduce waste

These decisions can also have more altruistic outcomes, according to the Facilities Management Journal. Through The Giving Back Project, Premier Sustain and FMs have donated more than 1,000 pieces of unused office furniture and other wasted resources to schools in need since 2011. This provided FMs with a better way to get rid of equipment that wasn’t being used without throwing them away if they weren’t viable for resale, while also giving local schools access to supplies that might otherwise exceed their budgets.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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