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Space Management Strategy: The Ultimate Guide

June 22, 2022

What is a Space Management strategy?

Space management is the short and long-term management of a company’s physical space and its employees. Therefore, space management can be anything from managing building headcounts to implementing new ways of working.  It falls under Facility Management, which aims to operate, maintain and continuously improve facilities to support core business operations.

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 the workspace, as well as predicting future space usage.

Space management teams have one fundamental goal:

  • To deploy and manage efficient facilities that support user requirements in line with core business objectives and health and safety requirements.

Effective space management requires focusing on the 3 P’s –” People”,” Places”, and” Processes”. Therefore, space management strategies outline 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.

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

Most workplace 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 office layouts and working environments have on both 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.

Find out more about space management software solutions

Space Management Strategy Process
Space Management Strategy Steps

Space Management Strategy: Identify your needs

The working group will be your space management team. The group should be employees based in facilities management, but from departments that impact your strategies, such as finance and HR.

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!

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 agree on how you will measure your real estate, and the rules governing it.

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

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

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

Business Hierarchy

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

Recharge is the process of charging each department for the space that they use or are assigned. 

Space Standards

Space standards outline how you measure and categorize space. In addition, they describe each space type, its capacity, and its area.

Occupancy Standards

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

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.

Move Management process

Essentially, this outlines the steps to move an employee. 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.

Want to know how you can simplify moves?

Data Standardization

Data standardization means changing data into the same style. Often, space planning involves collecting data from lots of sources. Therefore, putting your data into the same formats allows you to make comparisons.

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.

Data Feeds

Often organizations will send or receive data. Far too often do we see data feeds change from week to week, which will affect data quality! Therefore, make sure data feeds are consistent and know where to go to change them.

Discovery: How is my Office Space being used?

Firstly, 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, seeing how employees use the office will inform your business strategy.

Tracking usage allows you to benchmark the success of strategies you implement. Smart building sensors and booking apps are perfect sources of utilization data. These systems are essential now that remote working is the norm.

Want to learn more about booking systems?

In addition, surveys offer context missing in sensors and room booking data. By manually surveying your office, you can see whether people are using the space for its intended purpose. For example, employees could be using a meeting room as a lunch area.

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 flexible working models. 

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, clearly showing what needs changing and why your strategy will work.

Most importantly, make sure your strategy is appropriate! For example, It wouldn’t make sense to implement an agile strategy 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 what the strategy is and 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?

KPIs

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

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 as 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.

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 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.

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