8 reasons to measure office space utilization

6/30/17 12:08 PM

For almost every organization working in an office environment, premises are the second largest cost after personnel. Office space utilization measurements help you confirm whether you have the right kind of premises and whether you really need all the square meters you are currently using.

1. Cost savings

Research shows that work is becoming more mobile and people are spending less time at their workstation.  When upgrading your work environment, it’s often possible to make more efficient use of space as well.

Measurements can help you achieve tens of percent more savings than a personnel survey alone. In personnel surveys, workers typically estimate spending 70-80 percent of their time at their workstation when the real figure is often closer to 50 percent.  Measurements give you precise data on space utilization and help you scale your premises correctly.

The space utilization study gives precise data on the utilization rate of the various workstations and other spaces.
 The utilization rate is a key figure when evaluating and monitoring the efficiency of the work spaces.

2. Change management and communications

Studies show that personnel’s commitment and involvement are the most important factors in successfully changing working environments. When measuring space utilization, you can also gather data on working habits: individual work, cooperation, and meeting practices. This information will help you justify the changes, and also promote discussion between management and personnel.

3. Creating work profiles

Work profiles will concretize the need for making changes to your premises. Work profiles are typically divided according to personnel mobility: fixed, campus mobile, and mobile. The terms themselves vary, but they indicate how much time a person spends in the office and how much of that time they spent at their own workstation. The profiles will make it easy to see what kinds of workstations are required. Often the profiles are also used to support space dimensioning plans, and when considering IT requirements and remote working practices. The best way to create work profiles is to analyze your units’ space utilization and conduct a personnel survey.

You can also collect information on the various activities taking place in your premises during a space utilization study.

Different activities require different kinds of spaces: you should also measure the activities.

4. Determining space requirements

When a company first begins to consider future space solutions or is looking for new premises, space utilization measurement is the fastest and most cost-effective way of evaluating space requirements.

5. Assessing the success of work environment changes

Measurements enable you to analyze whether you achieved the targets of your working environment change. Two examples of such targets could be cost savings or premises that better suit your personnel’s working habits. The results will show how efficiently you are using your space and whether you have the right number of appropriate workstations.

Space utilization measurements can also be used to further develop premises. For example, software development involves many iterations before a product is launched and further developments will then be made based on customer feedback. It would also be worthwhile adopting this approach to workplace development.

6. Assessing ABW (activity based working) office functionality

The majority of modern offices are ABW offices, and they are continually growing in number. ABW offices are divided into different types of areas, such as quiet spaces, shared workstations, break rooms and conference rooms. Workers can choose a suitable space for themselves as required, maybe using a number of different spaces during the day. When workspaces are properly designed, they will support different tasks and ways of working.

It’s a good idea to measure space utilization in ABW offices at least once a year. Particularly in organizations that are introducing ABW and/or shared workstations for the first time, more changes will occur as personnel adopt new practices. Measurements will help you to identify areas for development (such as incorrectly sized conference rooms) and enable you to make corrections, so there will be no fall in productivity due to, for example, a lack of quiet spaces.
Continual measurements can be used to identify any miscalculations in your space set up, enabling you to correct the situation before productivity or personnel satisfaction suffers.

7. Energy savings

Continual space utilization measurements will provide you with information on trends that can help you save energy. For example, during the holiday season, workers can be directed to work on only four floors rather than five floors. As remote working becomes increasingly popular, it’s common for only about half of personnel to be present on Fridays. They could then use only part of the available space. Modern building automation enables you to, for example, turn out the lights and turn down the air conditioning in unused spaces. This will save energy.

8. Service optimization

Utilization rate trends will enable you to correctly scale your services as well. For example, you can forecast how much food to reserve for your canteen on different days, or order a more intensive level of cleaning on days when a lot of workers are present. This will also generate savings by reducing food wastage, and a higher standard of cleaning will increase comfort levels in the workplace.

These are the most important reasons for measuring space utilization. The next time you’re considering altering your premises or hiring a working environment consultant to make changes for you, remember to insist on space utilization measurement. It will pay for itself many times over.

Read more about space utilization analysis

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Maija Patjas

Written by Maija Patjas

Director, Workplace Management Services
+358 440312256