Space Allocation vs. Space Utilization

Traditionally, CRE teams have been able to work with space allocation data, but that kind of information alone shouldn’t be relied upon to make space planning and space management decisions. Now, teams can also use space utilization data, which offers a wealth of possibilities, but can also be overwhelming. Let’s start by defining each term:

Space allocation describes the assignments or allocations of a workplace. For example, you might have 100 desks and 75 employees assigned to them, meaning you have 25% vacancy and 75% of your desks have been allocated.

Space utilization captures real-time data of how the space is actually being used. In the scenario above, you might have 75 employees, but 10 are part of the sales team and they travel 70% of the time, four work from home one or two days a week, and six more are working on long-term projects and spend at least 50% of their time at other campuses…and so on.

In short, space allocation describes the plan or expectation, while space utilization goes a step further to describe the reality of how a workplace, or even a workspace, gets used.

The Benefits and Potential of Space Utilization Data

Now that CRE leaders can easily capture office space utilization data, they have the tools to solve problems that space allocation data alone couldn’t tackle.

Optimize the Entire Workplace

With good space utilization data on, for example, conference room usage, you’d be able to see that according to Outlook calendars, the conference rooms are booked 80% of the time, but actually in use only 30% of the time. Depending on the type of data you’re able to collect, you might also be able to see that large conference rooms are mostly used by groups of just 3-5 people. Instead of recommending the company build out more conference rooms, CRE leadership could do a number of things with this data:

  • Analyze the disparity in bookings and actual use (Are people not cancelling their reservations? Why?)
  • Change the structure of conference rooms (breaking up the large rooms into more smaller rooms)
  • Update or create additional spaces, like soft seating areas, cafes, or kitchens/break rooms, to accommodate meetings or collaborative work
  • Incorporate technology that improves the booking process or better manages the use of the space, such as sensors that automatically “cancel” the booking if they don’t register anyone in the room or check-in devices to verify the room is in use
  • Implement policies that discourage people or teams from booking rooms and not using them

Build Stronger Business Cases

Space utilization data also makes it possible to plan your workplace and ensure that your floor plans, layout, and design are meant to enable your employees and encourage productivity and collaboration.

Find out how to make your workplace “employee-centric.”

Because space utilization data is now collected through IoT devices, sensors, software, and other technology, it makes a stronger case when CRE leaders propose initiatives and plans about the space—they’re able to truly say that decisions and recommendations are backed by evidence. Getting everyone from department heads to the C-suite on board is easier when you have accurate, verifiable data.

Obstacles and Challenges

While adopting and using space utilization data can help you gain greater insights on your space and better inform decision making, there are a few things to consider before executing your plan.

Financial Considerations

There are often some significant upfront investments when it comes to new technology—whether you want building sensors, advanced entry badges, or other IoT devices or software. CRE leaders need to demonstrate that the data they collect and analyze will be accurate, valid, and valuable to the organization. Whether you implement new technology or leverage technology that you already have in place, you also need to consider its cost-effectiveness: what is the ROI of the data you’ll get?

Nevertheless, while there will be costs to purchase, install and maintain the technology, the potential savings in real estate costs might easily justify the investment.

How do you build a business case for redesigning your workplace?

(Lack of) Stability in Tech

We hear a lot about the success stories when it comes to Silicon Valley start-ups—but the reality is, the lifespan for the average new tech company is…not very long. According to industry estimates, only about 10% will last longer than five years.

One common scenario is when a company promises some incredible new technology that gets people excited. But for some reason—lack of money, the founders’ inexperience, or poor execution of the actual product development—the tech doesn’t deliver as promised.

The CRE and IT teams must do careful research and due diligence into technology companies before making significant investments and commitments if they want to see long-term value. Be sure to select a vendor that has proven experience and demonstrated ROI in your field.

Privacy Concerns and GDPR

We think it’s likely that more countries, including the US, may adopt the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in the near future. This would limit the useful, valuable data that companies will be able to collect. CRE teams can still make a lot of decisions based on anonymized, aggregated data, but they may be hindered in their ability to increase productivity by co-locating certain teams or individuals, for example.

That said, we think more companies will rise to the challenge of developing tools that provide actionable data without capturing personally identifiable information (PII), or limiting its capture. Additionally, more employees may be willing to make that trade-off—allowing their employer to collect and use certain personal information—once they see how that data can be used for their best interests. With the value space utilization data promises for CRE, the use of it will only continue to grow.

Find out how Serraview provides actionable space utilization data and how you can use it to make stronger business decisions—request a demo today.


Optimizing Corporate Real Estate for the Modern Workforce

As CRE leaders take on new roles and responsibilities, they must demonstrate competence in working with data and using it to their best advantage.

CRE leaders today are far more than just order-takers responding to requests. Now, they need to plan proactively and use strong evidence to make decisions and advise the C-suite. These changes are driven by the preponderance of Big Data in every aspect of the corporate environment.

However, working with so much data can be overwhelming and paralyzing. It can be challenging to get good data in the first place, and when you do, it’s difficult to figure out what’s useful, what’s not, and what to do with it. How are CRE professionals collecting, analyzing, and using Big Data?

Here’s what you’ll learn from this guide:

  1. How CRE teams can use data to improve their workplaces
  2. The challenges of working with Big Data
  3. What to know about evaluating data partners
  4. The importance of data integrity
  5. The benefits you can reap with Big Data

IWMS vs. Utilization Software

A good IWMS (integrated workplace management software) is a great tool, and adds a ton of value to almost any organization. But for today’s Corporate Real Estate (CRE) teams, who are dealing with the new demands of modern workplaces, even the best IWMS may not be able to completely meet their needs.

An IWMS is designed to support all five pillars of facilities management:

  • Real estate/property
  • Space management
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Capital planning and project management
  • Energy management

The key word is “integrated.” An IWMS brings all the data about your workplace, from asset tracking to maintenance upgrades to space planning, into one system so you can see how everything works together. Most of these systems perform these functions well.

For a company’s CRE team, their IWMS is invaluable when it comes to lease management, asset tracking, and the very basics of space planning and management. However, most IWMS systems are designed to be jacks-of-all-trades, not specialty masters. Especially for CRE, many systems lack the advanced space planning features and functions that are needed to meet today’s challenges.

As companies have realized that the workplace can play a big factor in their employees’ work experience, CRE teams are now tasked with creating modern workplaces that boost productivity, inspire employee engagement, and help attract and retain top talent. They need a robust tool that does more than just manage leases and perform basic space planning.

Enter…Utilization Software

On the surface, utilization software looks like a bonus add-on—something designed specifically to capture and understand space usage. Serraview takes this a step further: it combines traditional space planning and management capabilities with real-time space utilization data.

By combining allocation with real-time usage data and analyzing within the Serraview Workplace Optimization solution, CRE professional are able to glean greater insights about their space. Understanding these usage patterns is helping them to make evidenced-based decisions about their space planning, management and forecasting.

For example, you can use reports generated from Serraview to make better plans about how to handle peak utilization in your building – whether its the overall use of the buildings or understanding the specifics of your meeting room usage. If you discover, for example, that multiple departments schedule “all-hands” meetings every Thursday, you can use that data to talk to department heads about staggering those schedules. Or, you might determine that you don’t have enough collaborative spaces or the spaces that you have are under used or not used efficiently (e.g. large conference rooms are being used for 4-6 person meetings)

Another point in utilization software’s favor is its agility and flexibility. IWMS are huge platforms and setting one up in a company is a lengthy, thoughtful process—but a system like Serraview can be set up relatively quickly. Serraview specifically, is source-agnostic and can accept data input from almost anything: your current IWMS, entry badges, or IoT devices like sensors, beacons or even smart lighting systems.

Plays Well Together or Separately

In many cases, our clients use Serraview “on top of” their existing IWMS. Serraview takes in space management information provided by the IWMS, combines it with space usage data collected from various sources and then provides actionable reporting and insights.

Also, with real and veriafiable data, Serraview can help you visualize different scenarios when space planning or forecasting. With the analysis Serraview provides from your usage data, you can determine whether or not you can move from fixed to flexible seating, or downsize your current workspace when your lease options come up. And most important, you can see the immediate impacts of these changes, all within the system.

Why should CRE leaders pay attention to space planning?

Serraview and other utilization software can also be used to analyze data and make decisions related to the other five pillars—like adjusting your HVAC schedule to better reflect the times when most of your employees are in the workplace. If you can set your air conditioning to kick in one hour later because you see that most of your employees actually get to the office at 9:00, not 8:00, that can translate to significant savings in utilities costs.

While a tool like Serraview is designed to be synergistic with an IWMS (along with a variety of other platforms and systems), some clients find that they don’t actually need all the bells and whistles of an IWMS. In this case, utilization software can be used alone to manage your space, gather usage data and provide those actionable insights.

If you decide to implement Serraview as a standalone software, it’s a simple matter of redirecting the input feeds from the IWMS to Serraview, and ensuring that data like floor plans and employee information is uploaded directly to Serraview.

Learn how Serraview’s Workplace Optimization Solution can support your space utilization needs. Request a demo today.