For several key reasons, organizations need to achieve consistency – communicating identity and achieving efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Within Corporate Real Estate (CRES) there are a number of frameworks that can be employed to achieve consistency across a property portfolio, including space standards.
Not having, or inconsistent application of, space standards makes it difficult for CRES Teams, property users and investors to accurately compare and operate space. Research by global property firm JLL shows, depending on the method used, a property’s floor area can deviate by as much as 24%!
A quarter of an organization’s property data not being accurate is going to tremendously impact cost and planning. A lack of understanding of actual space available through inconsistent space standards will also impact the user’s experience if the reality is they have too little or too much space. Efficiency, comfort and safety are key goals for all CRES Teams that space standards contribute to achieving.
What Are Space Standards?
Space standards provide the rules required for CRES Teams to achieve consistency in property definitions and apply those definitions to the property portfolio they manage.
Space standards can be adopted from leading consultants – such as BOMA or IPD – or, an organization can develop their own. Whether adopted or developed internally doesn’t matter. The key to success is simply the stringent application and adherence through the portfolio and across time.
When not applied consistently, space standards and property definitions vary dramatically. For example, in some parts of the world, it is established practice to include common space (elevator shafts, communal hallways, etc..) in floor area measurements, in other areas off-site parking might be included. Having agreement on what to include and how to categorize through formal, consistently applied space standards eradicate this discrepancy providing a clear set of rules for CRES Teams to reference and adhere to.
The efficacy is in the title – space STANDARDS and they affect common space, occupiable and unoccupiable spaces further impacting space types and cost centers.
Space standard’s main goal is to bring transparency by delivering a common, practical standard that allows stakeholders to speak the same language and to set performance targets that are measured using the same methodology.
Why Incorporate Space Standards?
1. Improve Data Quality
Without formalized standards, teams will evolve their own processes and measurements. Silo’ed standards will be inconsistent with each other leading to an apples and oranges comparison.
Thus, inconsistently managed space standards and processes will lead to weak and inaccurate data.
Space standards that are consistently implemented and followed will reduce that 24% discrepancy maintaining, if not boosting, data quality.
Where required or beneficial to the organization, a global space standard can be set aside in favor of the regional variance, but this variance needs to be escalated and tracked by following correct protocol.
For instance, the average work station in the US is 75-95 square foot. In Asia, the average work space is 60-70 square foot. If applying the conventional norm for a floor that contains 500 employees – there will be an excess of 7,500 square feet not needed or being used. Additionally, the excess space provision may negatively impact the local employee experience because they are used to smaller work stations.
In general, consistently applied space standards will drive operational and strategic cost-savings.
2. Improve Space Efficiency
With a framework in place, the second phase to successfully incorporating space standards is to track and benchmark performance.
With consistently applied space standards, CRES Teams will be able to identify too-little or too-much space across a floor or building.
3. Improve Team Efficiency
Improving data integrity through standardization also improves a team’s efficiency. Well defined space standards takes the guess work away from teams. Standards are clear, easily referenceable aiding CRES Teams to easily adhere to them. Thereafter, moving through a portfolio and data impacted by application of space standards will be reliable fueling an easier experience for managing operations and planning changes.
4. Improve Decision Making
If space standards and processes are unclear, or are being applied inconsistently, then portfolio snapshots will be in accurate leading to poorer decision making. It’s important for value inputs to be normalized in order to have accurate data to benchmark against. Therefore, it is essential to clearly define basic data elements and apply those definitions consistently.
Data helps make better and more informed decisions. But, only when the data can be trusted.
Consistently applying space standards is a fundamental contributor to data integrity and a pillar to effective space planning allowing the necessary hallmarks through the built environment and in data.
Space standards are the common building blocks of a CRES property portfolio – literally and figuratively!