Redefining Space Utilization After COVID

What is Space Utilization

Studies suggest that employees will occupy their desks for focus work only about 42% of the time. On average, a workspace are completely empty about 40% of the time. As a result, facilities managers will constantly evaluate employees’ appropriate use of their workspace. The KPI of the employees’ use of a work area is Space Utilization.

By measuring and accurately reporting on workspace utilization and their overall facilities usage, businesses can prevent unnecessary expenses for utilities, rent, maintenance, and more. Space utilization guides executives in making strategic decisions to downsize or expand. Therefore, space utilization is considered a top strategic priority for an organization’s long-term financial success. 

Defining Space Utilization

Traditionally, space utilization is the occupancy of the office divided by its capacity, maximizing how many people are in a specific space. However, this definition does not consider employee productivity – and the impact on profitability. Thus, space productivity is different from space occupancy. Perhaps, a better description of space utilization is how productive is the use of your workspaces, rather than how occupied. Especially in a hybrid work environment, the productivity of workspaces is critical. While both occupancy and productivity are valuable measurements, space utilization should be about a space’s function and efficiency, with the end goal of having high utilization regardless of occupancy.

Space Utilization In Your Workspace

The two highest expenses for many businesses are people and real estate. In the 20th century, for most business leaders, space utilization focus was to distribute real estate costs efficiently. However, with the shift from manufacturer to knowledge-worker, the emphasis is on maximizing the performance of your workforce, as this can have a far more significant impact on profitability. 

A motivated, high-performing staff is essential to long-term business success. And, because of COVID’s work-from-home lessons, we know how various work environments affect employees’ performance. As a result, companies of all sizes are re-examining how to maximize the return on these most significant investments. 

While minimizing real estate costs and maximizing employee performance may seem conflicting, a human-centric Workspace Strategy is at the heart of every effective space utilization program.

Do you know the how, where, when, and why your employees work at their very best?

Our workplace specialists use expert research techniques to fully understand your employees’ needs and develop a strategy to transform your office space to enable your people to do their best work.

How to Measure Space Utilization

The traditional workspace had a simple choice for employees – sitting at a desk or a conference room. However, with today’s asynchronous schedules, team flexibility, and remote communications needs, employees require more options in their workspace. Dynamic teams need dynamic environments that they can reconfigure to suit their requirements at any time. With a wide variety of mini-environments, an adaptive workspace will seamlessly adjust to meet the fluctuating needs of the team throughout the day.

Some of the world’s most advanced companies feature space-consuming environments such as huddle spaces, breakout areas, and even sleep pods. In an age of social distancing, technology, and hybrid working, your people count no longer corresponds to your desk count. 

Obeya soft architecture with glass whiteboard, Boost stools, Hinchada couch, Modello Stool & Kosa table, from OFS

Areas to address Space Productivity

There are a variety of spaces in an office or campus that require additional measurements of productivity, including:

  • Collaborative huddle spaces
  • Bookable conference rooms
  • Mixed-use workspaces
  • Event halls and rentable rooms
  • Classrooms and study desks
  • Meeting rooms and elective spaces

So, if utilization is no longer a formula of how many people can fit into the square footage, how do you measure actual space utilization? 

Companies use advanced space occupancy techniques to analyze their staff’s needs and what makes them most productive. The solution is to completely change our thinking about maximizing the return on our workspace investment. Instead of determining the value by staff density, the answer is to measure space usage, focusing on improving productivity. By analyzing how your people use your office, you can understand which areas deliver a high return on investment versus underperforming ones. 

Design your space to reflect and enhance the way your people work so that you are maximizing their short-term and long-term performance.

How We Can Help

Your business may require flexibility and adaptability, as well as an environment that empowers and connects your people. If so, we can create a solution that works for your company, your people, and your future.

Want to know more? Get ideas for your own space with our inspiration guide, or get in touch to find out how you can make your office as effective as you possibly can.