Nov 1, 2021

Examples of excellent space management

man setting up a precense sensor used for space management analytics.

Even when Space Management Tools are successfully adapted, many companies still struggle to use their newly found knowledge in practice. Here are some examples of excellent space management analytics that have generated real life change – and may create change for you as well.

The Unused Desks

On request of the management team, Facility Managers in an office in Stockholm took on the mission to analyze the overall space utilization in their headquarters to find different areas of improvement. The management team reported proudly that the desks were booked 60% of work hours, which was above the set goal for desk utilization. However, the facility managers were not convinced that the findings reflected actual usage and quickly decided to also check the sensor data for the desks. The results where baffling. The desks were actually used about 20% of the booking time. For some reason, people seem to book without using their workspace, why?

Starting the investigation, they decided to segment the desks based on location, specifically, different zones of the office.  Upon segmenting the data, they quickly realized that the desks in the quiet area were used and booked 75% of the time, a staggering difference compared to the open work area which was booked 40% of the time, but only used 15% of the time. The presence duration time for the desk areas averaged on 5 hours respectively 1 hour, indicating that employees may use the desks for different work tasks.

This in turn raised questions about both areas, are they designed for what employees are using them for? Do we have enough seats in the quiet area? What are employees using the open work area for?

When investigating further, they quickly realize that more employees are interested in a quiet work area when they perform individual tasks, which also requires them to sit in one place for longer periods of time. The desks in the open area, however, are located in a busy space directly connected to the meeting rooms in the office. When analyzing the room booking data and comparing it to the desk bookings in the open work area, they could conclude that these desks were mainly used as touch-down desks before meetings. Having bookings available for those seats seemed to only confuse employees, and made the desks look occupied for longer periods of time, hence hindering the overall booking flow in the office area. In turn, the quiet area did not have enough seats to keep up with employee demand.   

Based on this information, the facility managers decide to start a desk relocation project to further improve utilization and employee access. They decide to turn all desks in the open work area to touch-down desks by disabling booking. To indicate availability further, they also added busy lights to each desk, also further segmenting them as only touchdown-desks. When the option to book the desks, disappeared, it became a lot easier for employees to actually find a vacant desk from the kiosk screen and use them with the intended purpose.

The quiet area was rebuilt, adding another room close by and an additional 10 desks.
The facility Managers also added some signs further showing the area as a quiet workplace, making sure that those places were used for longer working sessions. After these changes, actual utilization of the desks reached 63%, a vast improvement made with small changes.

The Rooms that no one booked

A company located in London had recently rented out one of their floors to another business in the hope to reduce company costs and adapt to their new hybrid work model. With a new reduced space, they decided to take a closer look at the room bookings, worried that they might be overbooked with the recent space reduction. Upon investigating, they were surprised to see that the booking rate for the meeting rooms on floor 4 averaged on 10%.

The findings raised concerns, why isn’t anyone booking these rooms? They check the equipment present and find no considerable differences compared to the rooms on the 3rd floor, which have a much higher booking rate. There are no fault reporting’s either, so it is not an issue of quality. The company starts discussing if it’s possible that they still have to much office space, but before taking the action of sub-leasing, they decide to install presence sensors in all rooms to be sure that they are not used without bookings made.

After running the sensors during a one-month period, they find out that the rooms on floor 4 are used 40% of the time! But why isn’t anyone booking? The new data shows that the average time present adds up to roughly 10-15 minutes, which indicates that the meeting rooms are not used for actual meetings. By using the Floor plan map, the company can see that the meeting rooms are in close proximity to the sales team’s zone. They make the assessment that the sales team is probably using the rooms to take quick phone calls and do not bother booking. They realize that the booking system was the main issue, and not the usage.

With this information, they decide to create ad-hoc rooms with busy lights that indicates occupancy instead of booking. The tables in the rooms were switched to armchairs so sellers can take calls more comfortably. With the new busy lights, it became easier for the sellers to assess if a meeting room was available, and they could more easily use one quickly. This in turn increased the utilization to 50%.

Investigating before investing

Facility Managers for a large corporation in the US started to plan for a large equipment exchange for the desks in their office. But with other planned maintenance work during the year, budget is tight, and they wanted to make sure that they prioritized the right equipment in the right places.

During that time, all of the desks in the office had a single screen and the facility managers were looking at changing to dual screen equipment to promote employees to come into work more often. They also looked over pricing for ergonomic desks to make employees more comfortable.

Before investing, the facility managers decided to make an experimental test during a 2-month period by adding dual screens and ergonomic desks on randomly selected desks throughout the building. They alert employees that these desks are available by showing the new equipment on their floor map. After 2 months, the data was analyzed; dual screens and ergonomic desks increased the bookings with 30% compared with the control group that showed no difference in booking. The also observed that ergonomic desks had a higher presence duration compared to the control group. Based on these results, they conclude that a total upgrade in equipment would be worth the money in both office usage, employee satisfaction and work efficiency. 


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