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Space Management Strategy: The Ultimate Guide

January 3, 2023

What is a Space Management strategy?

Office space management involves managing a company’s physical space and its employees. Effective space management focuses on People, Places, and Processes. Therefore, space management strategies outline the processes, standards and space management techniques used to manage your space and people.

Historically, space management planning focused on getting as many people in buildings as possible. Now, management teams are treating employees like consumers and their office space as a product or service. Consequently, space management’s main focus is connecting employees to the best workspace.

The benefits of a space management strategy

Most space strategies focus on optimizing space to save costs. Optimization strategies involve either matching supply with demand or increasing space utilization.

Something not often considered is the effects of office design and working environments on productivity and creativity. 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, whilst providing you with a competitive advantage.

Strategic space planning can:

  • Reduce costs
  • Improve wellbeing
  • Reduce environmental impact
  • Increase productivity & creativity
  • Optimize space

A full list of benefits can be found here.

Space Management Strategy Process
Space Management Strategy Steps

Space Management Strategy: Identify your needs

Firstly, you must identify the driving force behind your space management strategy. Primarily, your organization’s corporate strategy, vision and long term goals.

Does your business want to cut costs? Increase size? Downsize? Restructure? Fundamentally the needs of the business will influence your space planning and management.

Also, this will affect what space management software you purchase. For example, let’s say your exploring new ways of working and want to change to activity-based working (abw). Then, the software you purchase will need booking systems, space usage data etc.

Create a Working Group

Assemble a group of employees from across your organization. The working group should consist of employees involved in facility management and those affected by the business needs and space planning.

For example, if the business wants to cut real estate, your space strategy could involve hybrid working. However, hybrid working will need input from HR, Finance and others. Including people in your working group with a variety of backgrounds will provide different points of view. Also, teams of different backgrounds have been shown to make decisions faster!

Unify Space Management Standards and processes

Before any strategic space planning, you need to decide how you will measure your real estate, and the rules governing it.

Therefore, run workshops and outline your CRES teams’ standards and processes. 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 global processes.

Here is a basic list of standards that you need to review:

  1. Business Hierarchy
  2. Recharge
  3. Space standards
  4. Occupancy Standards
  5. Business Rules
  6. Move Management process
  7. Data Standardization
  8. Floor Plan Standardization
  9. Data Feeds

Discovery: How is my Office Space being used?

Firstly, you need to understand your space inventory 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, seeing how employees use the office will help your business achieve its goals.

Tracking usage allows you to benchmark the success of plans you implement. Smart building sensors, desk booking apps and badge swipe data are perfect sources of utilization data. These systems are essential now that hybrid working is the norm.

These data sources will give you information like which departments are using what space, for how long, how often etc. This data will show you whether your business rules are correct. For example, are employees are using the space they are supposed to? Are you providing too much or too little of particular space types?

Sensors and bookings tell you what space is used and for how long. But they cannot provide you with how the space is used. That is where space surveys come in. By manually surveying your office, you can see whether space is used for its purpose.

For example, employees could use a meeting room as a lunch area. However, sensor data would show this meeting room as occupied. See how this could be misinterpreted?

Ultimately, an effective business strategy depends on your employees. So, make sure you engage them to find out their thoughts and feelings. Speaking to your employees gives you a good insight into what changes they want. In addition, you can find out how open they are to try flexible working models. 

Identify Workplace Strategy Goals

Fairly obviously, some of your goals will stem from your business goals (section 1). However, data collected in the discovery phase should guide your objectives. It is advised to collect data on workplace utilization, as it can reveal issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.

So now you have identified your goals, how should you structure them? Well, they need to be SMART. SMART stands for:

  • Specific – What do you want to achieve?
  • Measurable – How are we going to measure success objectively?
  • Achievable – Is your objective achievable?
  • Relevant – Is the objective appropriate for the individual or team and their job role?
  • Timely – When are you going to achieve this?

SMART is an objective-setting tool that helps you clearly define your goals and objectives. For more information on SMART objectives, click here.

smart objective example

Define the Space Management Strategy

The workplace strategy is your action plan, clearly showing what needs changing and why your strategy will work.

Most importantly, make sure your strategy is appropriate! For example, implementing an agile strategy wouldn’t make sense if 80% of your employees require fixed locations.

We recommend the following structure:

Objective: State which of your objectives the strategy aims to achieve.

Strategy: High-level statement outlining the strategy, what it includes, and how it achieves the objectives.

Actions: Outline in detail all the components of your strategy.

Impact: How will this impact processes, standards and employees?

walkthough example of setting objectives and their actions

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs are the metrics you will use to inform the progress of each objective.

For the above example of reducing real-estate, the indicator would be number of buildings. However, this is more of a “macro” indicator. You could also measure the success of the objective with number of fixed workstations, number of agile/flexi areas etc.

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

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 realistic. 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 strategy milestones.

roles and responsibilities

For a space management strategy to run effectively, each person needs to understand their role. Create a roles and responsibilities table showing each person’s involvement in the space management strategy and their contact details. Doing so streamlines communication and removes confusion should something go wrong.

For most organizations, 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 are in a much better position to make informed decisions.

For most organizations, 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 are in a much better position to make informed decisions.

Training

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.

Repeat!

Strategic space management is not a one-time thing – you should regularly audit your space management strategy. 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, there is no one-size fits all approach. So customize the steps to fit your level of experience and your organization’s processes and ways of working.

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