How to Measure & Optimize a Modern Workspace

July 28, 2017

How to Choose the Right Metrics for Measuring Workspace Utilization

With Increasingly Mobile Workforce, Office Utilization Is Poor

In a traditional workforce of mostly on-site full-time employees, facilities and financial managers really only needed to know one thing about workspace utilization: the cost per square foot of the real estate owned or leased. If the cost was too high, it was time to retrofit the space to accommodate a denser concentration of desks or cubicles.

Today’s workforce is anything but traditional, and workspace utilization requires a new set of metrics for analysis. Mobile workers, part-time workers and contractors all flow in and out of your office space at varying times. Most of these workers do not require a full-time dedicated office or workspace. Companies must maintain enough places for employees to work and collaborate, while taking care not to leave too much underutilized space.

With premium real estate at extremely high prices, underutilized space can be very expensive. In addition to rent or property taxes, your company could pay for too much furniture, higher utility bills and insurance premiums, and cleaning and maintenance for rooms nobody is using.

Tracking Utilization

Capturing objective workspace utilization data is the key to matching your workspace to the needs of your workforce. The key to analyzing utilization lies in capturing accurate data about the actual occupancy of meeting rooms, offices, cubicles, workstations, or even chairs, as it occurs hour-by-hour and day-by-day. Once you have the data, you can analyze it for patterns and trends—areas of high usage and places that are empty too often.

Workspace Utilization Metrics for the Modern Office

To begin addressing workspace utilization, managers need to gather accurate measurements of occupancy and utilization. Here are the types of information you need in order to analyze the needs of your workforce and make good recommendations about workspace design and scheduling processes:

  1. Occupancy: This is the measurement of how often space is used and what percentage of the space is occupied on average when it is used. For larger organizations, it can be helpful to record maximum and minimum occupancy figures for the entire building, but also be able to break them down to specific floors or departments.
    • Occupancy rate: Calculate overall space occupancy by dividing occupied square footage by unoccupied square footage and multiplying by 100. One rule of thumb is that each employee tends to require between 125 and 225 usable square feet, but that varies by role and space type.
    • Workstation occupancy: This is the same calculation except performed on workstations, rather than square feet.
    • Point-in-time occupancy: By using automated software and occupancy sensors to monitor utilization, you can analyze occupancy in the content of the real-life situations created by a modern workforce. Analyze real-time occupancy data for every space by time of day, and get a highly accurate average occupancy rate over time.
  2. Peak usage: For any given space, what are the times of day and days of the week when that space is utilized the most?
  3. Low usage: Are there times when usage of a space is especially low, indicating potentially problematic underutilization?
  4. Desk to employee ratio: Many organizations still use a 1:1 desk to employee ratio, which was appropriate when every worker came to the office every day. However, with a mobile workforce, studies show a higher ratio like 5:1 or even 12:1 can help organizations greatly reduce overhead costs.
  5. Bookings vs Usage: If you use a scheduling tool to allocate shared spaces such as meeting rooms, you’ll want to keep track of how often the space was used versus how often the requestor was a no-show.

Once you understand how much space is occupied, when it is occupied, and by whom it is occupied, you’ll have a complete picture of your organization’s workspace utilization.

The Goal Is Not 100%

With workspace utilization, as with life, the key is balance. You want to utilize the real estate as fully as possible, in order to get the best return on your investment. However, the goal is not perfect utilization; that does not leave room for unexpected meetings and changes in employee work plans and impromptu meetings. One great way to achieve high utilization without sacrificing productivity is to use room scheduling or office hoteling technology to automate the reservation of meeting rooms and workspaces.

The right technology can potentially save your organization millions of dollars. Workspace analytics combined the right workspace design and good scheduling tools can boost utilization rates as high as 90% and reduce office space by up to 65%.

Improve Workspace Utilization with Technology

Technology can automate workspace utilization measurements and help analyze the best ways to manage facilities. Asure Software’s Workplace Utilization Analysis solution can help your organization measure and analyze occupancy and workspace usage to make educated, cost-effective decisions about real estate optimization.