Do You Need All the Office Space You Have?

A Gallup survey found that in 2016 43% of Americans worked outside the office at least part of the time. The same report found that jobs with flexible schedules and work-at-home opportunities are more appealing to today’s candidates. These facts have significant implications for HR professionals who are looking for ways to attract highly skilled candidates.

Increased flexibility and the work-from-home trend also offer a major opportunity for company leaders seeking new ways to cut business overhead. By using operations data to manage and improve workspace utilization, companies that make every space count can eliminate unnecessary expenses while providing the remote and collaborative working experiences jobseekers crave.

Managing space more efficiently

The workplace is the second largest expense for companies worldwide and rent and real estate prices are rising in most urban centers. Business leaders can’t control the overall price of office space in their locations, but they can optimize the way they utilize their facilities with the latest space management practices. Technology is an indispensable ally in this mission.

Even for companies operating in areas where commercial real estate costs are below average, the opportunity to cut workplace expenses by managing office space more efficiently is significant, and facility management software can help decision-makers identify opportunities to cut costs. That’s because every instance of unused space is a waste of money.

Space may be temporarily unused but needed to house people or equipment in the future — those scenarios are usually obvious to everyone. But it can be difficult to spot more subtly underutilized space without data, especially in larger offices. Here are four scenarios where facility management and scheduling software can help decision-makers eliminate waste:

1. Private offices

A Herman Miller space utilization report said there are studies showing private offices are unoccupied 77% of the time, which constitutes an enormous waste of space — and money. While some people within the organization may have a genuine need for a private office, most of the time, an office is a status indicator. People who are vital to the operation are rarely deskbound, so it may be a good idea to evaluate private office usage.

Office space management technology can provide an overview of private office utilization, confirming who really needs an office and which executives are rarely around due to travel, conference attendance, working from home, etc. In some cases, it may make sense to eliminate the office and provide a workspace alongside employees. The Miller study found that managers who are engaged with their teams may find the move a positive development that fosters collaboration.

2. Workstations

While workstations in common areas aren’t quite as underutilized as private offices, there’s still a significant amount of waste associated with maintaining workstations in the typical office building. The Miller report said that workstations are occupied just 60% of the time. This makes workstations an excellent candidate for study using workspace management technology to collect data and generate analysis.

HR professionals can work with department managers to identify underutilized spaces and discuss the reasons behind it. In some cases, it may make sense to reconfigure office layoutreconfigure office layout to eliminate empty cubicles. In other scenarios, it may be more efficient to expand departments or introduce a space-sharing schedule for workers who frequently telecommute. In all of these cases, having solid data on workstation utilization will be the key to making the best decision.

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3. Meeting rooms and conference space

For companies that conduct many client presentations and hold frequent employee meetings, meeting rooms and conference space may be necessary, but it’s a good idea to take a look at how often the space is engaged and to what capacity it is filled. The Miller report said these spaces are frequently underutilized, making them another candidate for data analysis.

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Analysis may indicate that the space set aside for meetings and conferences is too large. If so, it might make sense to designate a smaller space for that purpose or to make the rooms multifunctional by adding a water cooler and coffeemaker so it can serve as an employee lounge when not being used for meetings.

4. Reception areas and breakrooms

Some busy offices need a reception desk where guests can check in and wait for a meeting with an employee. In some workplaces, a breakroom where employees can have a snack or microwave lunch is essential. But that’s not always the case — in some instances, reception areas and breakrooms are underutilized.

Workspace technology that gathers data and presents analysis can help decision-makers understand how often these spaces are actually used, which might prompt rethinking the office configuration. As with meeting rooms and conference spaces, reception areas and breakrooms can be transformed into multifunctional spaces or eliminated to reduce overhead.

Every workplace has its own unique needs. In some buildings, each private office is truly needed. Some workplaces no doubt have found exactly the right workstation occupancy balance, and others make excellent use of their meeting and conference rooms, reception areas and employee lounges. But as the Miller study found, that’s not typically the case; in many offices, space is underutilized, and the facility costs associated with renting and maintaining those spaces is a poor investment.

The only way to know for sure is to gather data and analyze space usage throughout the workplace. With a workspace management platform that includes facility management and scheduling software, company decision-makers can gather data from multiple sources, get an accurate overview of usage, and consolidate and reimagine their workspace. Workspace management technology can point the way to the best candidates for a money-saving office makeover — and significant savings along the way.

Jeff is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceIQ, the most innovative workplace operations software platform.  He has spent the last 20 years in CEO, president, SVP and C-level roles at both public and private companies including Yahoo, CenturyLink, Cision, Viralheat and iContact. 

Jeff is a well networked, integrity-driven and respected technology and digital Global Executive with a 20 + year history of achievements including senior roles during IPO and 3 major acquisitions.

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