Build a Business Case For Corporate Real Estate, Guided by Utilization Data

When you’re building a business case for your corporate real estate (CRE) projects, the more relevant data you can present, the better. Since new technology and space utilization software platforms allow CRE teams to collect and analyze more data than ever before, more and more are using data to drive decision making.

But how do you know what’s the “best” or “right” data to use? Consider which data leads directly to actionable solutions, how people will use data to make decisions in real-time, and if and when soft costs should be applied.

Utilization data provides precise insight into your workplace

Corporate real estate  teams are now collecting space utilization data from a variety of sources including badge swipes, chair/desk sensors, infrared cameras, conference room booking systems, calendar integrations, and more. The more data you have means shining a brighter light on the issues you’re trying to solve. However, too much data can be overwhelming. 

Remain clear on the objectives and questions you want to answer and only gather data that will ultimately contribute to your end goal.

What else can current technology do for your workplace?

Understand supply/demand for conference rooms

For example, if you’re looking at conference room usage, you’ve probably been frustrated when looking at just calendar data in Outlook or Google Calendar because it only shows planned or intended usage—and that data alone can’t reveal how often those rooms are actually used and by whom. When you add in a space reservation system that requires people to “check in” in order to use the room, you get a better picture of actual usage. If you can also use infrared cameras or chair sensors that detect the number of people in each room at any given time, the picture becomes even clearer.

Plan for peak utilization instead of allocation-based occupancy

While most CRE professionals have long relied on key metrics for occupancy/vacancy, capacity, and density. Establishing the occupancy of an office, for example, used to be estimated through manual audits and walk-throughs. utilization data opens up new frontiers with peak utilization.

What’s wrong with making workplace decisions based on perception?

A building may have full occupancy due to every space being assigned an employee, with the total number of assigned employees approaching somewhere near capacity, but this tells you nothing of how many people are actually there on a given day. Peak utilization tells you what is the most amount of people who actually show up on the same day throughout the year, and if peak utilization is well below capacity, then you may have stumbled on a substantial opportunity for cost-savings. Indeed, discrepancies between planned and actual use can be powerful drivers for identifying inefficiencies.

Heat maps let you optimize space around employee needs 

Utilization data can also be leveraged into heat maps that actually tell you which spaces are overused and which ones are underused. If a heat map shows even distribution, then workers are finding all of your spaces to be useful. But clusters of heat and large cold spots indicate that there are some high demand spaces and spaces that meet few needs. 

Maybe you have too many open areas and not enough quiet places to isolate and think. Maybe your private offices are sitting empty while your lounges are bursting at the seams. This gives you strategic data to back up workplace transformation initiatives, and rethink your strategy as a whole.

Evaluate if flexible, agile workplaces are right for you

Organizations with significant numbers of part-time staff, partially remote workers, and lots of employee autonomy in the workplace may quickly identify that their peak utilization is a significant ways off from their total available space. More crucial than peak utilization, in this case, is an organization’s utilization ratio of how many seats they need per employee, or group of employees.

Find out what you should know about evaluating space planning software.

These organizations are great candidates for an agile workplace, with shared Activity Based Work settings that offer employees a diverse array of choices for different space types. In an agile workplace, employees can move freely between meeting areas, collaboration lounges, phone booths, and other areas designed to support specific types of work. Utilization ratios help you fine tune what combinations of spaces you need for which groups based on their activities. Maybe you only need 6 desks for 10 people? Perhaps your conference rooms are oversized for the average meeting in your workplace? 

Utilization helps you justify the transition to agile spaces, and optimize them once they are in place.

In closing

Your business case is only as strong as your insights into the needs, strengths, and weaknesses of your current situation. Start with your data and ask yourself first if it’s accurate, and second, how much it makes sense to invest in improving and expanding your data-driven metrics and insights. 

Moving from spreadsheets to a single, accurate space management system alone can make a tremendous impact towards enhancing transparency, but deeper utilization data can guide and foster consensus around bold decisions that generate transformational results.

How can Serraview help you find and analyze the data you need to create a winning business case? Request a demo today to find out.


How Tech Companies Are Using Automation to Manage Space Planning

Technology firms have long embraced practical solutions and championed the latest automation. That’s why it’s so surprising to see some tech organizations still using Excel spreadsheets and manual processes to track space utilization. Now’s the time to change. Here’s why tech companies need to start applying their embrace of automation to their office spaces, and take a data-driven approach to optimizing their workplaces.

A Modern Approach to Space Planning 

There was a time when space planning meant physically walking through the floors of an office building and manually entering data into spreadsheets in order to keep track of their space needs. After putting  estimates through complex formulas, a space planner would spend months running the numbers and creating reports that were never quite accurate to the current state of their portfolios.

However, technology has rapidly advanced, and those tedious methods of the past are no longer needed.

With modern software and tools, tech companies now risk falling behind their forward-thinking competitors by hanging onto outdated space planning techniques. This goes double for companies planning a modern tech space, where workplace technology is playing an increasingly central role in the employee experience.

Why It’s Time to Move from Spreadsheets to Automation

Modern technology now makes it possible to rise above spreadsheets and automate space planning tasks. Here’s what that means for tech companies:

Plan with Decisive Confidence in Your Data

With a centralized space planning and management tool, you can centralize data into a single system, streamline the process of validating data accuracy, and even pull real-time utilization data from badges and sensors. This means that accurate reporting can generated on the fly to inform immediate decisions, while long-term trends can be recorded and analyzed to inform strategic planning.

Connect Stakeholders

An end-to-end system empowers users to access common data through a framework that speaks to their specific workplace needs. Leader in Corporate Real Estate and Facilities can reference a powerful record of occupancy needs to target inefficiencies. Employees can find key spaces and update the  system through activity in integrated workplace apps. Stakeholders in in any department can update data through automated validation surveys and web portals. In a fast evolving workplace, automated systems don’t just centralize data, they streamline the common activities that occur around your spaces.

Target Inefficiencies Through Optimization Metrics

Modern Space Planning Solutions don’t just collect data, they slice and dice information into dashboards and reports that highlight outliers, track trends, and bring glaring inefficiencies to the foreground. With up-to-date data behind them, dashboards can provide a clear view of opportunities to generate savings  and put underused spaces to better use by aligning them with employee needs.

What You Can Do with Automation

Beyond enhancing the transparency and responsiveness of any organization into its real space needs, what exactly does automation look like in practice? Here are some of the opportunities that Space Planning automation has to offer.

Utilization Reports

Using data gathered from Internet of Things (IoT)  technology such as badge entry systems, desk sensors, or check-in systems, you can collect valuable statistics that measure space utilization in real-time, such as:

  • Peak Utilization by building or room
  • Heat Mapping
  • Utilization ratio of people to seats
  • Times of peak utilization

You can use those reports to spot gaps between how space is assigned an how it is used to reduce wasted space and align offices with a better employee experience..

Scenario Planning

With scenario planning software, you can experiment with different layouts in an intuitive drag and drop interface, and test different types of office environments. By pulling real data into a sandbox environment,, you can see how each scenario impacts key metrics such as square foot per person or cost per person. That means you can see how changes will affect your office layout and total costs. What’s more, once an ideal scenario is selected, it can automatically be converted into a move project, with tasks and dependencies generated for each move required to implement your plan.

Managing Flexible, Ratio-Based Environments

For companies looking to deploy the type of  modern, flexible workplaces that are the envy of Silicon Valley, utilization data and a system that can track and visualize flexible space are a must. With the right system in place, keeping track of employees in a flexible environment can be more precise than the most traditional, assigned environment.

Connecting Employees with Wayfinding Apps

Whether you’re deploying a flexible environment or simply streamlining how employees search and reserve workspaces, wayfinding apps are becoming increasingly popular. Many systems offer powerful employee apps that streamline space bookings and enable smart searches where employees can see where their colleagues are in real-time.

All of these advantages make automation the sensible option if you want to enhance your workplace. Want to see how space planning tools can transform your office? Request a demo today.


How Tech Companies Are Transforming Their Workplaces with Utilization Data

Tech companies have long been pioneers of workplace transformation by necessity, with an incessant need to keep up with growth and attract top talent. With Smart Offices now an indelible part of the workplace landscape, utilization data is increasingly at the heart of the workplace revolution, opening new frontiers for enhancing savings and reimagining the employee experience

Unfortunately, gathering and analyzing this information hasn’t always been easy. Now, with technological advances, tech companies are discovering new ways to capture and use space utilization data. Here’s how:

A Changing Space Utilization Landscape for Tech Companies

Utilization data is essentially any data that reflects how spaces are actually being used, which can mean how many people have swiped into a building on a given day, or how many times a conference room was at capacity according to a smart sensor.

Once upon a time, companies were forced to rely on professionals to physically walk through buildings, floor by floor, and conduct manual audits. This method relied heavily on physical observations and estimates—some that weren’t always accurate. These manual methods also required time-intensive processes, tedious number crunching, and were rather limited in their applications to the daily life of employees.

As utilization data has become more accessible and as the workplace technology designed around utilization has become more nuanced and robust, Smart Offices are now taking shape in many forms, with systems that capture utilization to inform workplace planning/modernization, to employee wayfinding apps that connect people to their spaces.

Utilization is Driving the Flexible Space Revolution

With greater insight than ever before on how much space is needed, the supply and demand for different types of spaces, and where individuals are within the office environment, Tech companies can now measure flexible spaces with greater precision than even the most traditional and static cubicle farm.

This has led to the rise of Activity Based Work environments, where sections of offices are redesigned to be unassigned, offering employees an exciting array of choices for places to work throughout the day. In the past, this may have been untenable, but Utilization data means that companies can continuously optimize these environments based on how they are used. Peak utilization metrics tell companies exactly how many seats they need to provide business units, and wayfinding applications ensure that employees can always find their colleagues and view the availability of spaces in real-time.

Today’s most advanced workplace software specializes in leveraging utilization data into solutions for planning, managing, navigating, and optimizing flexible spaces.

How Tech Firms Can Use Utilization Data

With this new caliber of data, there are new possibilities for space planning. Here are some ways to use utilization numbers to build a better workplace:

Align Workplaces to Employee Needs

Organizations can use heat maps to determine the optimal combination of spaces based on what activities they support. This way, organizations can find the right balance of meeting rooms, lounges, phone booths, hot desks, and other key space types.

Plan for Peak Utilization

In a traditional office environment, everyone was assigned a seat and once all seats were assigned, that office was at full capacity… but how many people actually show up on any given day? And what about part-time and remote opportunities? Peak utilization tells organizations the maximum number of people that show up on any given day of the year, so they can plan based on how much space they actually use, instead of how much space is assigned.

Enhance Precision of Wayfinding Technology

Utilization data can feed employee apps with real-time insights into where colleagues are located and which rooms are available.

Target Gaps and Inefficiencies

Utilization data makes it easier for professionals to eliminate wasted space by identifying gaps between how space is assigned and how it is used. Just as a building assigned to 300 people may rarely see more than 200 in attendance, the same principle can be applied from the floor level down to the individual desk.

Increase Capacity with Ratio-Seating

With utilization data, organizations can assign seating ratios to different shared neighborhoods that increase capacity beyond one seat per person, and continuously refine that ratio over time. A ratio of 1.5 people per seat, for example, represents a 50% increase in building capacity. 

Improve Energy Efficiency

Especially with increasingly flexible schedules, it’s easy to run air-conditioning, lights, or other utilities when employees aren’t around. With real-time utilization data, it’s now possible to use energy more efficiently. By capturing the numbers, planners can set the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system to line up with employees’ schedules—saving money and reducing the company’s environmental footprint.

Evaluate Move Scenarios

By integrating utilization data with scenario planning software, organizations can test and evaluate how different move scenarios would impact their people and their bottom line. 

Make Evidence-Based Business Cases

It’s now possible to capture the numbers to justify moves. Using validated utilization data from badge entry swipes, lighting sensors, and other sources provides evidence where there once were just estimates to get buy-in from all key decision makers.

Overall, tech companies finally have the tools and automation to power better space planning. Technology is taking the guesswork out of utilization data, and it’s resulting in better outcomes. Want to see how technology can fit into your space planning initiative? Schedule a demo today. 


How a Tech Company Reduced Space by 25% and Elevated its Workplace Culture

Global technology company Avaya eliminated almost a quarter of its real estate portfolio by turning to an advanced workplace optimization software solution. The results were a lean, efficient organization, and a more collaborative workplace culture. Here’s how Avaya did it:

About Avaya

Founded in 2000, Avaya is a global leader in delivering premium communications experiences to customers. It supplies more than a million customers with a complete portfolio of software and services. When it started looking for a data-driven solution, it had 15,000 employees and 2 million square feet of office space around the world—a costly footprint with tenuous accountability to Avaya’s real needs.

Avaya’s Challenge

As a leading multinational technology company, Avaya had acquired multiple tech companies. As a result, its real estate team stretched across the world, but the organization was failing to keep its real estate footprint under control. 

At the same time, Avaya wanted to modernize its tech offices. It needed to lower costs and improve collaboration. Unfortunately, the team’s space planning tools and manual systems were causing chaos. Executive reports were taking weeks to complete. Leaders didn’t have accurate data, and they didn’t know where employees were or how they were interacting. 

Avaya was in need of reliable data, automated reports, and direction it could trust. It called on a partner, Cushman & Wakefield (C&W), for help. 

C&W Selects Serraview as the Data-Driven Solution

C&W started by researching possible software solutions, looking for the right fit to help Avaya’s team manage space, set up a plan, and empower employees. After vetting multiple options, C&W decided Serraview was the best solution. 

Gathering and Standardizing Data

Avaya knew how pivotal reliable data would be when making such a big move. After C&W Avaya’s 142 floor plans were uploaded into a single Serraview system, alongside occupancy data for tracking allocations for individuals and  business units. 

To validate the accuracy of the data pouring in, Avaya’s real estate team could use the Serraview Workplace Portal, which enables stakeholders across the company to confirm seating accuracy via simple and intuitive shareable links. Suddenly, rather than rustling through spreadsheets and manually emailing reports, the team could quickly run data through one online interface. 

Running chargebacks and informing strategy

Serraview also provided the corporate real estate team with an automated solution for running chargebacks and evaluating needs across units. This provided the hard data Avaya needed to drive its strategic planning for everything from acquiring new property to dropping unused space and building more employee-friendly office layouts.

Avaya Closes 15 Leases, Empowers Employees

With Serraview tools, Avaya was able to cut costs and reduce its real estate portfolio drastically, reducing its footprint by nearly 25 percent. However, Avaya faced a new challenge. With 15 site closures, employees found themselves in new locations among unfamiliar faces. 

In order to empower employees, Avaya launched the Serraview Locator mobile application. With the app, employees are now able to see what resources are available. They can easily search for their colleagues, as well as search and book conference rooms and collaborative spaces from their mobile devices.

With the data to track needs and the transparency to connect employees to their spaces, Avaya was able to create a more cohesive office environment that reduced bottlenecks and fostered greater engagement between business units.

Technology-Powered Results Now and into the Future

In addition to developing a work culture that gives employees the tools to come together, Avaya’s real estate team is now able to pull data into a centralized, easy-to-access system. That means it can automate reports and quickly set up chargeback processes. Reports that once took weeks to compile are now available in minutes. 

With reliable data at its fingertips, the team is now able to back every decision, from acquiring or dropping property to planning out office layouts, with data. In addition to having a right-sized portfolio and drastically reduced costs, the organization now has the tools to drive success well into the future.

To learn more about Avaya’s workplace transformation, read the full case study. 

Want to see how you can use technology to take control of your workplace strategy? Schedule a demo today. 


4 Reasons Why SV Live Is a Go-To Technology for Office Space Utilization

As Corporate Real Estate professionals are ever more focused on using technology to enhance space planning and workplace engagement, smart offices are offering new levels of utilization data precision, and with them, new possibilities.

SV Live is smart office software, installed on employee devices to realign workplaces around their needs. SV Live talks with smart sensors and WiFi networks to track real-time movement in the workplace. This information helps planners optimize where employees work based on how employees work, shedding waste in the process. These smart insights also empower employees to navigate their spaces in exciting new ways, removing productivity roadblocks by enhancing visibility into everything that their spaces have to offer.

Here are four ways that SV Live is taking utilization technology to the next level.

#1: Real-Time Wayfinding Keeps Collaboration Close-by.

As workplaces become more flexible, they also become more mobile, making it ever more important to keep collaborators connected. SVLive integrates with Serraview’s mobile wayfinding, so that employees can find their colleagues as they move throughout the workplace with a simple smartphone search. Employees can also search spaces and see if they are occupied, so that available spaces are never out of reach.

#2: WiFi as a Sensor Enables Affordable Smart Offices.

Most IoT devices, like badges and sensors, have the associated costs of hardware. This hardware is powerful and effective, but can add up in costs when deploying large numbers across portfolios that span millions of square feet. 

SV Live can convert your WiFi network into a smart sensor, using the hardware you already have.  This makes SV Live one of the most cost-effective solutions available for tracking IoT data. As a software solution, SVLive can also be updated easily without any replacement costs for outdated hardware.

Why it’s time to automate Excel space utilization systems.

#3: SV Live Ensures User Privacy and Security

SV Live is not only accessible, it’s also incredibly secure. Employees can opt in or out and SV Live cannot access any information from those that opt out. What’s more, SV Live only works on approved networks within your organization, so any employee at home or at a local cafe remains outside of the networks view. Companies can also elect to blackout any areas from SV Live.

#4: Inform Planning with Real-Time Metrics

With SV Live, organizations can learn more about how their spaces are used than ever before. Just as employees can use SV Live to find other individuals, Space Planners can use SV Live to understand overall utilization in different spaces throughout the day. They can use heatmaps to identify underutilized cold spots, or track peak hours of space use, and re-organize workplaces based on what spaces employees value most.