Office trends and space utilization have always gone hand in hand. Individual offices were replaced by cubicles, and cubicles were replaced by open-plan solutions. Each solution had the goal of increasing space utilization in an office, and it was believed that open-plan solutions also fostered productivity and collaboration. However, recent studies show that the opposite may be true.
The recent findings in how open office spaces can lead to a lack of productivity have forced companies to rethink how they use their space. Companies are increasingly moving towards flexible office solutions. Such solutions provide their employees with the space they need to stay productive, such as office pods for digital meetings, while optimizing space usage. In 2020, space optimization became even more crucial due to social distancing measures and increased requirements for disease spread control.
The answer to space utilization is thus no longer as clear cut as to calculate capacity based on square footage. Read on to find out how you can improve space utilization in your facilities in 2020 to reduce building operation costs.
The first step towards improving space utilization is to get the necessary insight to make good decisions. You need to understand what your buildings’ occupancy and spatial use look like in practice. What rooms are being used at capacity, and what rooms are going largely unused? How often are the conference rooms in the building being used? How much desk space is necessary for different offices?
Consider the role of an engineer. They may need access to an office and a desk, but most of the time they might be working on equipment. Say there are five engineers that are using an office with five desks. Is this necessary if there’s only one or two at the office at any given time, or could five desks be reduced to three? Stationary computers have largely been replaced by laptops, so having a specific desk usually is no longer necessary.
With digital meetings increasing in frequency, office pods have become a popular substitute for conference rooms
Now consider the number of conference rooms you have in one building. Are they generally fully utilized, or is there always one, two or even three rooms available at any given time? When utilized, are they at capacity or are they just being used by a few people? Could office pods replace the need for conference rooms?
In order to find out where you are underutilizing your space, you need access to this information. To accurately keep track of how much space is being used, you can use sensors that gather real-time data. This can be anything from how much space on average is used on a desk to how many people occupy a conference room, and how often. With this information at hand, you know where space is being underutilized and can make adjustments to your space accordingly.
Many times, it’s not up to you to decide how your tenants are using their space. Share the insights that you get with your tenants to let them know how they can get more use of their area. This information can benefit your tenants as they might not need all the space that they have at their disposal. If less space is required, they can reduce their footprint and save on rent, equipment, services and energy costs. For facilities managers, this can pave the way for more tenants to move into the building, which could result in an increase in revenue.
With cloud-based facilities management software, you can even share the insights directly with the tenants, so that they too can see areas for improvement. The transparency that you provide by doing so will also help build trust with your tenant, reducing the risk of a tenant moving to another building. In some cases, a company that’s growing and considering moving to a different building may even be able to see that there is plenty of unused space at their current location and decide to stay.
With companies moving to flexible offices with free seating and office pods, the possibilities to improve the space utilization in your facilities have changed dramatically. In order to benefit from this shift, you need to have access to key insights on how areas are being used, how often, and by how many people. Using the number of employees and dividing by square footage will not provide you with an accurate metric. In order to get accurate insights, you need to include important aspects such as guests, the number of people concentrated in a specific area and account for flexible work arrangements, like working from home.
A much more effective way of measuring space utilization is by using sensors to keep track of actual space usage. Sensors have proven to decrease a building's operation costs by 18% solely based on improved space utilization. Learn more in our free e-book on how to optimize your Facilities Management Services.
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