What is a Space Management strategy?
Space management is the short and long-term management of a company’s physical space. Often, definitions mention tracking where people sit and knowing how much space you own or lease. However, workplace strategies are a little more complex. Strategic space planning involves understanding how employees use workspace, as well as predicting future space usage. In addition, space management includes agile working styles like activity-based working and hybrid working. Therefore, a space management strategy outlines how you will achieve your space goals and employee goals. Furthermore, a space management strategy outlines the processes and standards used to manage your space and people.
Historically, space management strategies focused on getting as many people in buildings as possible. Now, businesses are treating employees like consumers and putting their needs first. Consequently, space management’s main focus is connecting employees to the best workspace.
The benefits of a space management strategy
Cost-saving is a central theme of space management. Most workplace strategies focus on optimizing space to save costs. Optimization strategies involve either matching supply with demand or increasing space utilization. Another key theme of strategic space planning is creativity. Office layouts and working environments affect both productivity and creativity. In addition, creativity impacts business success. In short, effective space management strategies will tell you what spaces your employees need and how many. All of which optimizes your space and lets employees do their best work.
Strategic space planning can:
- Reduce costs
- Improve wellbeing
- Reduce environmental impact
- Increase productivity & creativity
- Optimize space
Furthermore, space management strategies are not just for big businesses. Space management strategies are for anyone wanting to track space or implement workplace initiatives.
Space Management Strategy: Identify your needs
Firstly, you need to identify the driving force behind your space management strategy. Primarily, your organization’s corporate strategy and vision will inform your needs. Does your business want to cut costs? Increase size? Downsize? Restructure? All of which are going to impact your space management initiatives. Also, this will affect what software you purchase. For example, let’s say you want to change the way you work to agile working. Then, only consider software that copes with multiple working strategies.
Create a Working Group
Assemble a group of employees from across your organization. The working group should consist of employees involved in space management. However, include employees from departments that affect your space management strategy, such as HR and finance. The working group must have employees with a range of experiences and skills. Teams made up of different backgrounds have been shown to make decisions faster!
Unify Space Management Standards and processes
Before any strategic space planning, you need to show how you will measure your space and the rules governing it. Therefore, run a series of workshops with the working group and outline the standards and processes that your CRES teams will use. As a result, you might find regional differences between your CRES team’s workflows. Should this occur, understand the causes and consider including them in your processes.
Here is a basic list of standards that you need to review:
A business hierarchy is the organization of a companies departments and employees. Larger organizations divide departments into three categories: business segment, business group, and business unit.
Recharge is the process of charging each department for the space that they use or are assigned.
Space standards outline how you measure and categorize space. In addition, they describe each space type, its capacity, and area.
Occupancy standards define how to use your space. Individually, they may seem obvious. However, as a whole, they form the basis for managing your office space. Likewise, they make sure the data you collect is reliable and accurate.
Business rules define your employee roles. In addition, they also include what spaces each person can use. Therefore, they are critical to strategic space planning as they inform floor plan changes and future use.
Moves and changes process
Essentially, this outlines the steps needed to move an employee from one location to another. Moves don’t just involve moving employees, but also their equipment. Therefore, you need to state each person and their role in the move process.
Data standardization means changing data into the same style. Often, Strategic space planning involves collecting data from lots of sources. Therefore, standardizing your data allows you to make comparisons across all of your data sets.
Floor Plan Standardization
Similar to data standardization, you must make sure that your floorplans all follow the same standards. If your floorplans are not consistent, you won’t be able to compare performance across your buildings.
Often organizations will send or receive data feeds. Far too often do we see data feed’s change from week to week, which will affect the quality of data! For this reason, make sure you know who owns each data feed and where you can go to change them.
Discovery: How is my Office Space being used?
Before making changes, you need to understand your space and who is using it. Because an employee has a set desk, it’s easy to think that’s where they will be. In reality, employees are not at their workstations up to 60% of the time! Therefore, finding out how employees use the office will help you identify what needs changing. Tracking current usage allows you to benchmark the success of any future strategy you implement. Smart building sensors and booking apps are a great way to collect utilization data. These tools make it easy to see which employees are using which spaces and how often.
Smart building sensors and booking tools are not the only way to measure space. Surveys offer you benefits that you cannot get with sensors and booking data. By manually surveying your office, you can see how employees use different space types and whether they’re using them for their intended purpose. Unfortunately, surveys are time-consuming and do not measure space usage as detailed as sensors or booking apps.
Ultimately, the success of your space management strategy depends on your employees. So, make sure you engage them to find out their thoughts and feelings. Speaking to your employees gives you good insight into what changes they would like to see. In addition, you can find out how open they are to trying new ways of working.
Identify Workplace Strategy Goals
Data collected in the discovery phase should guide what objectives you set. However, your goals should be consistent with your organization’s vision identified in section 1. We recommend using SMART. The acronym ‘SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. SMART is an objective-setting tool that helps you clearly define your goals and objectives. For more information on SMART objectives, click here.
Define the Space Management Strategy
The workplace strategy is your plan of action, explicitly stating how you will achieve your objectives. To increase buy-in from your organisation you need to demonstrate a clear understanding of what needs changing and why your strategy will work. It can be easier to view this as a scientific method. Firstly, Make an observation (Discovery phase). Secondly, form a hypothesis and make a prediction (setting your objectives and goals). Thirdly, test your prediction with an experiement (your strategy).
Most importantly, make sure your strategy is appropriate! For example, It would not be appropriate to implement an agile strategy if 80% of your employees require fixed locations.
Your strategy should have the following structure; Objective, Strategy, Actions and Impact:
Objective: State which of your objectives the strategy aims to achieve.
Strategy: High-level statement outlining what the strategy is and what it includes.
Actions: Outline in detail all the components of your strategy. Don’t forget to provide an explanation for why you have chosen each action.
Impact: It is beneficial for organisations to state what the affects of each action are on processes, standards and employees.
Once the strategy is understood and agreed upon, you need to be able to monitor its success. Measuring the progress of your goals is straightforward if you used the SMART framework, as you should have identified how you will objectively measure success.
However, identifying how you measure sub-components of your strategy might be less obvious. For example, a KPI for measuring agile working success could be a target headcount per desk. In addition, you may judge the success of your agile working strategy by collecting employee feedback.
Implementing and Monitoring your strategy
Even the best-laid plans do not go as expected. During Implementation, you need to think about how to ensure your space management strategy stays on track. You should constantly monitor and evaluate your progress and identify milestones to check your success. It is a good idea to have some contingencies in place as a failsafe. For example, it could be as simple as keeping a portion of your budget in reserve.
What happens if you implement your strategy but are not meeting your objectives? Context is everything, is the strategy failing globally or in one particular region?
If it’s globally, this would suggest a shortcoming in your workplace strategy. Firstly, check whether your objectives are as realistic as your first thought. It could be that you are trying to achieve too much too soon. Secondly, if your business or employees have changed, your objectives and strategies may no longer be appropriate.
If it’s regional, contact the local CRES team and make sure they have implemented your workplace strategy correctly. There could be local barriers that are stopping them from reaching your strategies milestones.
roles and responsibilities
For a space management strategy to run effectively, each person needs to understand their role. It is also vital for people to know who to contact for queries and issues. Create a roles and responsibilities table outlining each person and their involvement in the space management strategy. Doing so streamlines communication and removes confusion should something go wrong.
For most organizations, the ownership of space data is centralized and is not down to the individual region or country to manage. Businesses should empower the local CRES teams to be responsible for their data. The local CRES teams see the day-to-day goings-on and are in a much better position to make informed decisions.
Making sure everyone is on the same page is vital. Otherwise, all your hard work and effort defining your space management strategy will be for nothing. After all, your CRES teams are going to be the ones doing the work! Make sure that the teams implementing the strategy understand what you are trying to achieve. Where necessary, put on training workshops to give employees ample opportunity to learn.
Strategic space management is not a one-time thing – you should be auditing your space management strategy regularly. In addition, we recommend reviewing your workplace strategy as and when business requirements and industry trends change! Remember, this guide gives you a basic framework for creating a space management strategy. Every business is unique, so customize the steps to fit your level of experience and your organization’s processes and ways of working.