Space Utilization Metrics To Optimize Your Office Space

June 21, 2022

Corporate Real Estate has always relied on data to make informed decisions on how to manage portfolios.
With the introduction of technology that better tracks how employees move through space, new metrics have emerged providing CRES Teams deeper insight into space usage. Sensor technology enables constant data capture through spaces. Clearer space usage insight impacts both daily operational management and future planning.
Having deep data sets enables several objectives to be met – develop facilities supporting a strong user experience while simultaneously improving space utilization and reducing corporate real estate expenses.

Established/ Fundamental Corporate Real Estate Metrics

CRES’ intention has never changed. Our mission, as Building Managers, has always been to oversee safe, comfortable workspace that is consistently rolled-out in-line with corporate identity markers and core business objectives while achieving the best cost-balance possible.
To meet all of these objectives, CRES has always measured portfolio deployment and usage with space management metrics being segmented by global, regional, building, floor level and people categories.
Key space management metrics have been bundled together into space standards enabling CRES to manage space in-line with local requirements (i.e. capacity thresholds and fire code) and user expectations (the average workstation in the US is between 75-95 square feet compared to Asia where a typical workstation’s footprint is 50-60 square feet).
Key space management metrics core to CRES include Total Space, which is further divided into Occupiable Space and Unoccupiable Space. These core metrics simply outline for a building’s total space how much space can be used to house employees – you can’t put a desk in an elevator, but that space still needs to be managed and paid for. Associated with space is the building’s cost per square foot (SQFT)/ meter (SQM).
Layered on top of largely fixed space metrics is the people focused numbers, such as Total Headcount (again, further divided by Assigned and Unassigned Headcount). Other space related metrics include Average SQFT per Employee and Average SQFT per Workstation. Average SQFT per Employee refers to the amount of space an employee needs to operate comfortably. Average SQFT per Workstation is the volume of space that a workstation consumes and are categorized by workstation type.
To manage efficient, comfortable workspaces, CRES had to understand the number of workstations there were. To identify cost consolidation opportunities, workstation count is further divided into occupied and unoccupied. An important metric, which is even more important in the world of agile, is the Desk to Employee ratio. If unoccupied and unassigned, a CRES Manager could look at expected headcount increases in the short-term, allowing workstations to remain if they will be filled. Or, the CRES Manager could take a view to deleverage unused workstations and associated space achieving a win. Many of these metrics were devised to manage space as efficiently as possible from a cost perspective. These metrics fuel cost allocation – whether space should be paid for by the Business Group (assigned desk space), if space should be prorated (costs for meeting rooms used by several Business Groups are divided amongst users) or if costs should be absorbed by the business (corridors, etc…).
How cost efficiencies are gained thereafter is dependent on strategies available to CRES Teams and how well they support broader corporate goals and vision. For example, after better understanding portfolio usage a CRES Team may look to reduce maintenance costs by 10% which could translate into savings between $0.20 to $0.40 USD per gross square foot. Other teams may be able to reduce their portfolio size, producing savings of $6 to $12 USE per gross square foot. In order to achieve these wins, it’s crucial to first understand how a portfolio is being used.

Metrics for monitoring Agile Cultures and Activity Based Working Workspace Deployment

Space management metrics on who uses space and for how long is now possible to collect through several technological advancements. These metrics are captured from employee ID cards, sensors mounted through buildings and booking apps. The constancy of monitoring and the placement throughout buildings has ushered in a more person focused granularity giving clearer insight into workspace usage.
Just in time too, as workplaces are experiencing an increasing shift from fixed working to agile the need to accurately understand how space is used is becoming ever more imperative – to avoid neighborhood or zone overuse, understand space type popularity and identify underutilized space.
This move away from fixed 1:1 workstation assignment puts pressure on CRES Teams to identify strategies keeping employees and building users safe and comfortable with a strong user experience. Thereafter, the following metrics impact strategy – with trend identification impacting space forecasting and future planning. So, let’s cover these newer metrics that are shaping how facilities can be moulded.
Space Occupancy refers to the number of people in a given space during a given period of time. This data can be compared against historical data or laterally against other floors/ buildings / regions or against relevant industry benchmarks. Space Occupancy can be further refined to indicate trends – the two biggest being peak and low occupancy. These metrics provide indicative planning opportunities to achieve better managed cost programs. If the CRES Team knows and understands over a longer time horizon when spaces are to be used, they can align energy management programs and maintenance schedules according to trend indicators.
Further occupancy metrics include Daily Peak Occupancy by Space and Business Group. Daily Peak Occupancy by Space indicates the highs and lows, attendance wise, of space types (building, floor, neighborhood/ zone or workstation). While Daily Peak Occupancy by Business Group outlines the highs and lows of office attendance by a Business Group. Average Peak Occupancy indicates what a space’s uppermost average occupancy is. If the average occupancy for a space was between 400-500, the peak average might be between 475-500 before occupancy starts to exceed norms by going over the average.
The final occupancy metric, Frequency of Peaks, is a longer-term indicator and refers to how many times over a given time horizon occupancy hits, or exceeds, the peak average. The value of this metric is to validate space planning in accordance with the peak average.
Space Utilization metrics refers to how often a space is used, who uses it and why the space is being used. These metrics indicates popular space types. Breaking down which spaces in building are booked most frequently makes it clear which spaces are employee favorites. Drill into space popularity further and link space type popularity by any cross-section of people specific data – do people from Business Group A use a space type more than Business Group B does? Or, what role specific preferences exist? Additionally, blend occupancy and utilization data – is a work station more commonly occupied during specific time frames? If so, why? Perhaps, due to a temperature or light preference. These insights are a huge advantage when planning the future of space.
Having an accurate understanding of occupancy by space type and Business Group enables Strategic Planners to refine space deployment establishing KPI targets. Monitoring on-going occupancy against targets includes Assigned Ratio by Space (building, floor, neighbourhood/ zone) which encapsulates the number of employees who are currently assigned to space. The next KPI is Target Occupancy Ratio per Space (an example could be, for every 1 workstation available, CRES would expect 3 users to occupy it through an average day). Based on an analysis of occupancy trends captured, CRES Managers have determined that the Target Occupancy Ratio per Space is the ideal ratio to move to while still maintaining a safe and comfortable workspace. The final indicator rounding out the triumvirate is the Actual Occupancy Ratio which indicates how far or close the gap is between the assigned ratio and target ratio.
With the ability for employees and teams to move fluidly through space, booking the space type that best suits the task’s need, this data (booking usage) can provide insight into bookings made and if a booking was fulfilled. Understand what’s been booked (by space types), how long for and by who (by Business Group). Also, capture metrics on booking ghosting (when a space is booked, but not fulfilled) and recaptured time. Recaptured time refers to if a booking isn’t checked into usually 10 minutes after the booking is set to start, it’s released back into the system and made bookable again.
Capturing and consolidating space, costs and usage is key to managing a balanced portfolio used by employees and in-line with corporate goals.
WebCoRE aggregates data and metrics visualizing through KPI’s how healthy portfolios are. This accurate visualization enables teams to understand their performance, understand the targets and create achievable strategies to successfully right-size workplace deployment.

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