Jul 16, 2023

Optimizing Space Utilization: A Comprehensive FAQ Guide for Efficient Workspace Design 

Read more about Optimizing Space Utilization in a Hybrid office

Every company benefits from having an office where employees can be productive and creative. In the ideal office, not only the layout and interior are on point, but also the utilization of office space. A functional office space meets the needs of employees and visitors while also ensuring that the property remains an asset and stays within the real estate budget. Learn more about optimizing space utilization in our comprehensive guide.

Why is space utilization important?

The office building is a place where people go to work every day and business goals are achieved. It serves as a venue for productivity and also visually represents the company's brand. During the pandemic, occupancy rates decreased as a significant number of employees began working remotely. Some opted for a hybrid solution, splitting their time between the office and their home office. Due to the new hybrid workforce, it has become more crucial than ever to utilize the office space effectively. The principle of space utilization is based on this intention.

By gathering valuable insights on office space utilization, making better business decisions becomes easier. Everything, from desk policies to maintenance, is influenced by space utilization. When every inch of the building is known, overhead costs can be reduced, leading to increased revenue. Additionally, the opportunity to have a positive impact on the environment arises, as reduced energy waste contributes to a smaller carbon footprint. No more leaving the lights on!

Space usage for future growth

Digitalization drives change, and with new trends on the horizon, it is more necessary than ever to implement a flexible strategy. Space utilization serves as the cornerstone of modern space management and is just as valuable as other business metrics.

Facilities managers benefit from the ability to showcase utilization metrics when they need to initiate new changes and build a strong case. Does the office require renovation, or is it necessary to terminate the lease?

Improved working environment

In addition to having a positive impact on the budget, most employees benefit from space utilization. Space managers can ensure that there are available office spaces for both individual work and teamwork. Employees can choose between working at a fully equipped desk or gathering in smaller meeting rooms for training or daily briefings.

Today's job market is complex, and the workforce tends to be selective when seeking their next employer. People switch jobs more easily, staying with a company for only a few years before moving up the career ladder. A flexible and accommodating work environment is a fantastic way to attract and retain talent. It results in less crowded spaces and improved navigation. An excellent office layout transforms the office into a hub for productivity and collaboration.

What is an example of space utilization?

In contrast to space occupancy, which measures the number of people in a specific area, space utilization focuses on function and efficiency. It encompasses various areas within the entire building, including:

  • Open spaces
  • Desk spaces
  • Conference rooms and meeting rooms
  • Restrooms
  • Lunchrooms
  • Reception area

One example of space utilization is optimizing the usage of a larger conference room. If it is only booked 30% of the time, why not convert it into smaller meeting rooms that can be easily reserved in advance? Such rooms are ideal for employees who wish to collaborate on a project without disrupting their colleagues.

The former conference room can be divided using glass walls, which is a more cost-effective solution compared to leasing or renovating a larger space. Companies become less resistant to change when they can design a new office layout more efficiently. No more wasted space - scale up or down with ease.

How do you measure space utilization?

When determining space utilization, there are various options available to measure it accurately. One of the most common approaches is dividing the number of employees by the total capacity. Ideally, this would involve calculating the average number of employees present on a given day divided by the total number of positions available.

For instance, if there are 80 employees in an office designed for 100, the utilization rate would be 80%.

Another example involves 10 desks that can be reserved. To calculate the utilization rate, it is necessary to compare the time they are booked to the total available time.

Working with an average occupancy rate is important since there can be peak hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and quieter periods on Mondays and Fridays. Otherwise, the measurement would not be accurate. Individual choices are not always predictable, and each workday differs. Some employees may prefer to have lunch in the lunchroom daily, while others may grab coffee at the nearby coffee shop.

Data collection in the office space

Space management software serves as a reliable source of information by collecting movement and occupancy data within a building. The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized data collection methods.

Flowscape offers FlowAnalytics, which provides an overview of all rooms, spaces, and key utilization metrics. The collected data is anonymous, and no individual is personally recorded. It can be easily exported into a PDF or Excel document for presentations or use in other programs.

Data collection is facilitated through occupancy sensors in larger areas and sensors mounted beneath desks, making it more reliable than tracking individuals solely through entrance scans or work badge usage. An additional advantage is the ability to analyze the data both historically and in real-time. By comparing data over time, making well-informed decisions becomes easier, and it enables projections for future capacity needs in 5 or 10 years.

Data collection is particularly valuable for determining averages and understanding peak demand for specific desks or spaces.

Space utilization metrics

To simplify, space utilization can be broken down into several key metrics that contribute to the overall picture:

  • Occupancy: The total number of people that can occupy the workplace.
  • Peak utilization: The point at which the maximum number of people is reached, indicating the busiest period for the workplace.
  • Availability: The total number of workspaces available within the building.
  • Target ratio: A balance between occupancy and availability, aiming for an optimal utilization level.
  • Actual ratio: The current ratio of people to workspaces, indicating the present utilization rate.
  • Cost per square foot: The value per square foot of space based on the total lease cost, providing insights into the financial aspect of space utilization.

It's important to note that the average workstation occupies around 40-50 square feet, and employees have diverse tasks throughout the day. This means they may share desks or collaborate in open spaces furnished with armchairs and sofas.

Efficient space utilization according to the employees

In addition to collecting data, you can also gather feedback through surveys from different departments. This allows you to understand their needs and preferences. For example, you can inquire whether more restrooms are required at the end of the hallway or if people desire a lounge room for coffee breaks. Space utilization involves not only tracking movements in the building but also identifying potential areas where employees can be creative and productive. The insights that go beyond the data may surprise you.

To sum it up, there are numerous pieces in the puzzle that need to be assembled before forming a new strategy.

Ready to improve space utilization?

The complex ecosystem of an office holds tremendous potential but can be challenging to analyze. Hopefully, our comprehensive guide will provide you with a head start. Once you have gained insights into space utilization, making strategic decisions that benefit the company today and in the future becomes easier.

Seeking guidance on how to set up your hybrid office for success?

Don't hesitate to schedule a meeting with one of our product experts. They can provide valuable insights into our solutions and how technology can help streamline your office processes without disrupting employees' daily work.

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