Data Governance: A Critical Component of Good Workplace Management

By Kane Hochster
Chief Sales Officer

Every business collects data of some kind. Small companies may keep customer records in spreadsheets while global organizations use multiple systems to manage everything from HR data, sales, assets and workplace management. 

But having data doesn’t automatically mean the reports gleaned from that information are accurate and actionable. You know the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out”? Businesses may be great at collecting data, but is it the right data? Is it being used to meet objectives? 

“Inaccurate data means you’re basing decisions on bad information, which may mean building a workplace that doesn’t meet employees’ needs or drains facility management budgets,” said Kimberly Castle, account director with Buildingi, an IWMS/BIM consulting firm said. “You may also be leasing too much space because bad data shows that 15% of your workforce doesn’t work in the physical office anymore – when the true figure is much higher.”  

Many businesses are learning a hard lesson as they navigate their ongoing responses to COVID-19. The constant flux of COVID safety mandates puts greater emphasis on the need for real-time data to create processes to meet those standards. Companies must rely on accurate reports to make decisions on everything from maximum allowable occupancy for conference rooms to workstation spacing to where to position contactless circulation pathways. As work from home policies persist, most firms will seek to adjust their portfolios and add flexibility to promote workplace choice. That’s where a robust data governance system comes in. 

For clarity, data governance is not the same as data management. CIO Magazine defines data governance as: A system for defining who within an organization has authority and control over data assets and how those data assets may be used. It encompasses the people, processes, and technologies required to manage and protect data assets.” Data management is the logistics of collecting and storing information – a must for data governance to work. 

Bob Sits Where? 

Fellow Buildingi account director Amber Miller once helped a client combine an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) with an HR system. This common integration is designed to make it easier for users to update where they sat, so the HR platform was populated with a list of room numbers. 

“But then we started noticing anomalies, like people being assigned to a bathroom or hallway. We had to go back and have the client apply data governance rules to limit which types of seats and rooms were approved for the data feed,” she said. 

Then there’s the issue of corporate tech systems not speaking the same language. Castle was helping a large life insurance company integrate data from multiple systems. 

“There were all these terms that had a different meaning in every system. For example, the definition of ‘full-time employee’ or ‘headcount’ wasn’t the same across the board,” she said. “And that was a problem because data reports would get sent to the CEO with glaring discrepancies.” 

 Think of it this way: One person may collect and store information (data management), but a large number may access it, run reports, and use those details to make strategic decisions. If one person alters or uploads inaccurate data, the change effects everyone downstream. That can cause big problems if your job is reporting compliance levels to regulatory agencies or preparing a company’s tax returns. 

“It’s one thing to collect and track data, but if there’s no data integrity, you’ll simply get ‘garbage-in and garbage-out,’” Castle said. “Technology allows us to automatically flag where things don’t match; a tight and consistent data governance program is key to getting everyone on the same page.”  

Data Governance and COVID-19 

The ups and downs of COVID-19 is creating a new urgency for companies to collect data on and analyze employee movement in the workplace. Data on occupancy, furniture arrangements, and desk reservations is a starting point for health and safety measure implementation. But without rigorous data governance, employee movement and contact tracing information are unreliable.    

“Before COVID, the industry focused on ‘butts in seats,’ or how many people are assigned to a building. But the challenge during the pandemic is that’s no longer an accurate way to measure occupancy,” Miller said. “For example, an employee can be assigned to a desk, but they aren’t coming into the office every day. We’re now looking at utilization in terms of users in building vs. users assigned to seats.” 

Floor-to-ceiling elevation is one metric that’s been impacted by COVID because it impacts air quality and flow, Miller said. Before the coronavirus forced everyone to think about ventilation in new ways, space planners didn’t have cause to look across a floor layout. Now, data that was once used almost exclusively by facilities is being analyzed and acted upon by executive management, HR, and other departments. 

COVID-19 has put greater emphasis on why data governance is the foundation for quality workplace data management. Companies are asking questions of data sets that weren’t in the original parameters, searching for answers that will ultimately keep businesses open and employees safe. As organizations look beyond the pandemic, better data governance is critical for making confident and productive strategic decisions about workplace management now and into the future.  


SpaceIQ: Powerhouse, Industry-Leading Workplace Solutions

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 21, 2020 — When Archibus + Serraview acquired SpaceIQ in May 2020, leadership realized the combined brands needed a new name to accurately reflect the true power of the global workplace management technology business. They chose SpaceIQ. 

“The goals in selecting a new company name were to choose a name that clearly states what we offer and represents all three product lines. SpaceIQ met all of the criteria,” said Wain Kellum, SpaceIQ CEO. “We now have a business identity that describes the category we compete in (Space) and shows we will continue to build intelligent, category-leading products (IQ).” 

The new SpaceIQ is unlike any other workplace management company in that it provides products and services for small business to enterprise organizations on a worldwide scale, Kellum said. Archibus is known globally as the premier integrated workplace management software platform while Serraview is the go-to solution throughout much of Asia Pacific. SiQ, though a younger product, is considered one of the most innovative SaaS products in the industry. 

To avoid confusion with existing customers, the SpaceIQ product has been renamed SiQ. The other product lines will be known by their legacy names: Archibus and Serraview. The company created a new brand look and feel, including revised product logos. A new website is slated to launch in 2021. 

“We do understand that this change may cause some confusion in the market, which is why we have kept each of the product line names,” Kellum said. “Everything we offer, no matter the product line, always comes back to space. Archibus and Serraview are cornerstone products and will continue to be so—now under the SpaceIQ company name.” 

SpaceIQ helps our customers with: 

  • Real Property — Manage owned and leased space locally and across the globe 
  • Capital Projects — Manage projects and budgets related to space 
  • Maintenance — Keep up with space needs and prevent workplace downtime 
  • Assets — Manage and track assets within space and the workplace 
  • Sustainability & Risk — Ensure workplace compliance with safety in mind 
  • Workplace Optimization — Optimize your space use and occupancy 
  • Space Planning & Management —Explore, analyze at department and team-levels 
  • Reservations — Find and reserve space 
  • Employee Experience — Meet the digital needs of your most important asset: people 
  • Forecasting – Use future growth models to determine space and workplace demands 
  • Agile Seating – Flex your space to meet the needs of your evolving workplace 

To learn more about each of the product brands, visit,, or


Archibus + Serraview Acquires SpaceIQ to Jumpstart Mid-Market Growth

NEW YORK, BOSTON, May 13, 2020—Archibus + Serraview, a leading provider of software for optimizing workplaces and facilities, today announced its acquisition of SpaceIQ. The purchase is part of Archibus + Serraview’s strategy to strengthen its position as a global leader in the workplace management space.

“SpaceIQ’s innovation and market-fit provide a clear path into new markets and a tremendous opportunity for growth,” said Wain Kellum, CEO of Archibus + Serraview. “They have an exceptional team, so the combination makes SpaceIQ an ideal acquisition to add to our global business.”

With SpaceIQ now part of Archibus + Serraview, the new company makes smart building technologies and employee enablement applications more accessible to businesses of all sizes. For customers, the company will provide a superior platform for addressing real estate strategy and space management, while providing employees with a compelling workplace experience.   

Founded in 2016, SpaceIQ provides mid-market companies with easy-to-use tools to access data across the entire enterprise that optimize space use, meeting room coordination, workplace moves, and asset management.  Archibus + Serraview serves thousands of customers worldwide with software that manages a wide array of real estate needs—from automating space bookings to re-organizing vast property portfolios. Archibus + Serraview is designed to provide a complete view of workplace performance that helps optimize environments, identify immediate inefficiencies, and address long-term trends for better ROI.

Growth equity firm JMI Equity backed the acquisition as a great next step in the company’s ongoing progress to become the global leader in the workplace tech software segment.

“The pandemic has created extraordinary demand for our software as companies prepare for a return to work under new social distancing standards, creating a significant opportunity for growth. Combining SpaceIQ with Archibus + Serraview adds an additional market segment to our portfolio of technologies and innovation,” said Brian Hersman, General Partner of JMI Equity. “We love to partner with companies to build market leaders and this investment was the next step in the ongoing evolution of Archibus + Serraview.”

About Archibus + Serraview
Archibus + Serraview is a global leader in space management and IWMS technologies.  Empowering over 1,000 customers around the globe, Archibus + Serraview provides the world’s leading workplaces with the insights and tools they need to reduce real estate costs, optimize operations, and elevate the employee experience. To see why some of the most recognizable organizations trust Archibus + Serraview, visit and

About SpaceIQ
SpaceIQ is leading the digital transformation of the workplace with our cloud-based platform that turns facilities from cost centers into strategic business assets. SpaceIQ brings management tools and insights to help companies execute data-driven real estate decisions, increase operational excellence, and enhance employee experience. Reimagine Your Workplace™ at

About JMI Equity
JMI Equity is a growth equity firm focused on investing in leading software companies. Founded in 1992, JMI has invested in over 150 businesses in its target markets, successfully completed over 100 exits, and raised more than $4 billion of committed capital. JMI partners with exceptional management teams to help build their companies into industry leaders. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Nai Kanell
[email protected]


Don’t Stand So Close to Me, 6 Serraview Customer Stories on Staying 6 Feet Apart

Just a few months ago, the idea of keeping employees as far apart as possible would have seemed like an odd collaboration strategy, but these are strange times. At Serraview, we get to work closely with Corporate Real Estate leaders as they adapt their spaces for physical distance and plan their big returns.

Remote work has been a revelation for many, but some things are best handled in person, especially when productivity depends on essential workplace resources. In response, our customers are keeping a close eye on a possible COVID-19 resurgence, using data and intelligence to reduce risks while employees trickle back into spaces.

All of these stories are worth sharing today, but many of them will be useful for CRE leaders looking ahead at the years to come. In a time when the daily news has many of us running to the comforts of our favorite takeout foods and binge-worthy TV shows, these stories paint an optimistic picture of how companies can rebound with bold thinking on where to take their workplaces next.

1. National Sports Association Drafts Teams Back to Work.

One national sports association has taken a cue from their coaches, and decided to stagger employee shifts by team. “Red Team” employees come in on Mondays and Wednesdays, while “Blue Team” employees can return to their turf on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Serraview helps planners localize teams, identify key areas, and plan from a common reference point.

2. Electronics Company Plays Checkers.

A consumer electronics company that uses Serraview’s solution for searching and booking spaces has decided to jump the risk of infection with a checkerboard strategy. By blacking out every other work station from booking availability, this company is exploring a way to automate social distance into their workplace experience.

3. Energy Company Flips the Switch on Flexible Space.

One Serraview customer that provides regional energy services to homes in the American Mid-West has decided to flip the switch on its plans for flexible space. With Serraview, they had laid out their complete strategy for transitioning to ratio-based seating, but not yet moved into action. Now that their workforce is “flattening the curve” at home, they used this opportunity to flip the switch on deploying their new flexible strategy, which is better equipped to deal with the fluid ebbs and flows of the crisis ahead.

4. Global Media Company Finds the Silver Lining of Flexibility.

If one trend has dominated Serraview clients’ back-to-work thinking, it has been the embrace of flexible work space. With Serraview’s utilization tracking technology, one company established that their portfolio stood at a utilization rate of only 60% before the crisis even began. With a remote work culture now firmly in place, they are now exploring the idea of consolidating around a flexible strategy long-term to reduce the cost of their footprint.

5. Financial Corporation Gets Bullish on Hot Desks.

While many companies are moving towards flexible space, they are also being careful in how they manage that space. One financial organization is looking into how hot desking can help them respond in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence. With Serraview, hot desking enables organizations to keep track of who is sitting where in the event that they need to identify who has been in contact with an infected employee.

6. Bank Gets Smart with Contingency Planning.

A Serraview customer that uses SV Live was able to generate powerful proximity reports at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis to warn at-risk employees of potential exposure. Today, they are making this approach a cornerstone of their contingency strategy should an outbreak reoccur. SV Live uses smart sensors to enable employees to search their colleagues in real-time, as they move throughout the workplace. That same data can tell organizations where infected employees were located, who they came into contact with, and how to reach them.

Are you considering a flexible environment to reduce your real estate costs in the age of remote work? Read our free tactical guide on how to successfully manage the transition.


The Big Return: Top Things to Consider When Planning Your Move Back

As CRE professionals, we have always had to deal with ever-changing needs, but this pandemic has really stretched our ability to navigate the magnitude and duration of real estate implications. As many organizations prepare for a return to the workplace, CRE leaders are being charged to plan for the unprecedented. How do we return to normal, and what even is normal anymore?

In many ways, the new normal is something that continues to evolve, but there are contingency plans we can and should be developing now. CRE leaders should certainly look to government and health authorities for direction on when it’s safe to begin returning to work, but here are key topics to keep in mind.

Who Says It’s Time to Return?

While many CRE leaders are carefully plotting their strategic return to the workplace, others are asking themselves “why bother?” If there is no essential reason that employees need to return, it may make sense to hold off until a clearer picture emerges. If employees absolutely must return, then requiring that they wear masks is recommended. The prevailing wisdom is to encourage remote work, whenever possible.

Phasing is the Word of the Day.

While there’s a lot of prognosticating going on, one thing everyone agrees on is that it probably doesn’t make sense for everyone to return at once. Returning in phases enables organizations to test the waters and mitigate their exposure to health risks.  

  • Essential workers come first: The most essential workers should obviously be the first ones back in… but what essential means can differ greatly across organizations. Some organizations are using their space utilization data to identify which employees attend the office most frequently to determine case-by-case space needs.
  • Protecting the most vulnerable: It goes without saying that the most vulnerable should return last, and only once things have stabilized. This includes employees with pre-existing conditions and in higher-risk age brackets, but it also means helping employees deal with greater levels of anxiety about returning to the office.

Social Distancing… in the Workplace?

Back to the workplace does not mean back to normal. We have all become trained social distancers by now, but how do organizations translate these standards into the workplace? Different organizations have taken different approaches. 

  • Density Planning: In spite of the swaths of vacant space, some organizations are asking themselves if they have enough space to meet new density benchmarks.
  • Proximity Monitoring: Organizations that track utilization data can easily monitor density across their portfolio. Proximity reports can help them enforce social distancing policies.
  • Bookings with Buffers: Workplace solutions for booking hot desks and meeting rooms give organizations the power to automate social distancing into their reservation systems. This can be done by blocking off seats to enhance distance between employees or inserting buffer time between meetings to reduce overlap.
  • Hot Desking Over Shared Space: What’s the difference? Traditional environments allow employees to freely move between spaces, hot desking asks that employees book every space they use. This enables organizations to limit mobility and keep track of who is sitting where.
  • Closing Down Common Areas: Watercooler talk has officially been put on hold. Dining areas and lounges are being shut down during early phases throughout the movement.
  • The Return of the Cubicle: The once maligned cubicle has made a comeback. Higher barriers between desks have found renewed appeal in the fight against contamination.

Is the Move-Back an Opportunity for Workplace Transformation?

For some organizations, the answer is yes. Organizations on the precipice of replacing assigned seating with flexible workspaces have been able to seize this chance to make the leap. This has been more the exception than the rule, however, as most organizations are focused on a safe return in the short term. In the long-term, it’s a different story. The remote work experiment has certainly wet appetites to reduce footprints with flexible spaces, as CRE leaders assess their strategies beyond the crisis. 

Utilization as a Secret Weapon

In an evolving and unpredictable situation, many organizations are leaning on their utilization data to guide their planning, enforce new standards, and inform their response should a new infection occur. Utilization data conveys how often people show up from day-to-day and where, often captured by anything from a smart sensor to an access card in the lobby. From density planning to identifying staff that may have been exposed to an infected occupant, organizations are learning that utilization can be a powerful tool for enforcing health and safety.

Serraview is committed to helping you keep your finger on the pulse of this evolving crisis. Check out our COVID-19 Resources page for more insight on how you can help guide your organization through these unprecedented times.


Preparing for A Post COVID-19 Future in Corporate Real Estate

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to invade our lives, we are all learning first-hand how to adapt to a world dominated by social distancing and quarantines.  Our once bustling offices are now vacant shells, reminding us of the strangeness and uncertainty of the moment we’re in.

The impact of transformative events like this is real.  In the aftermath of 9/11, business travel came to a screeching halt. Leading prognosticators proclaimed that the days of face-to-face business meetings were gone forever, yet person-to-person interaction reemerged as indispensable. Offices filled back up and business travel returned and then boomed.

The fortune tellers were wrong about how 9/11 would transform our workplaces, but they were right to presume we were entering a new world. No one knows the future, but you don’t have to be a gambler to bet that a post COVID-19 world will bring with it a new normal… so how can we prepare?

Preparing for the Return… Whenever It Comes

While the more extreme doomsdayers may foresee a future where we never leave our homes, CRE professionals are likely much better off having a plan (or multiple plans) for the return of the workplace, whenever it may be. How should this return be any different from what came before? 

It may make sense to build in precautions with regard to viral infection, just in case there is a resurgence. It will likely be some time before we know for sure that we’re out of the woods, and the last thing you want is everyone flooding back in just as the virus is making a comeback.

Some precautions you may consider:

Staggering your return:

Rather than returning everyone at once, it may make sense to stagger employees to keep a close watch on impacts on health and morale. Those whose roles are most critical to the business can be reintroduced in a first wave, followed by healthy or unaffected workers, then those who have children out of school. Those personally impacted by the virus should be the last to return, once they are definitely recovered.

Building social distancing into your plan:

Continuing some levels of partial remote work may help you reduce density and empower employees to maintain social distances according to their personal comfort levels. Mandating 30-minute buffers between conference room meetings to limit unnecessary personal interaction may also make sense during the early days.

Extra effort for health & safety:

Ventilation, concerted and regular cleaning, and comfortable office temperatures can all help reduce the levels of general illness in your office.

Reevaluating Your Workplace in the Wake of the Great Remote Work Experiment

While some have already started penning obituaries for physical office space, it is the riskier gamble to bet against the value of shared space. It’s part of the fabric of how we commune and collaborate. On the other hand, this pandemic has indeed forced a global and near universal experiment in remote work. Even once the fears of communal space finally subside, the appeals of working-from-home will likely linger.

Employees will remember the shorter commutes, extended time with family, and freedom from arbitrary mandates to remain on premises 8 hours a day, five days a week. Organizations will have discovered the depths and limits of what they can achieve outside of the office, and start reevaluating their space needs. Where is space a waste, where does space offer value, and how can you limit the former while enhancing the latter?

As you plan your return, it may make sense to keep a close watch on key trends that are likely to accelerate.

Agile space:

Agile offices have already been proven to slash wasted space and better conform to how people prefer to work. Flexible workplaces that offer less seats but greater diversity in choice will likely accelerate their conquest over assigned office environments. Agile environments can meet the needs of larger, partially remote workforces while reducing space and aligning workplace design with productivity.

Smart offices:

Smart offices have proven themselves invaluable for not only aligning offices with how people use them, but also for providing critical data to support response efforts in times of crisis. 

Enhancing Readiness for Future Disruptions Through Technology

Regardless of what the new normal may bring, it is clear that the technology that organizations deploy will provide the core infrastructure for their ability to adapt and respond to change. In times of disruption, accurate data and streamlined workflows can be lifeboats during periods of transition.

Workplace technologies that are central to CRE Readiness include:

Tracking Real-Time Space Utilization:

Measuring shifts in attendance with precision in the coming months will enable organizations to boldly right-size while maintaining confidence in their ability to meet needs.

Scenario Planning:

With the future so uncertain, the ability to plan and test multiple scenarios will be key to preparing organizations for multiple outcomes.

Relocation Automation:

Largescale moves, transformations, and consolidations all involve moving a lot of bodies with minimal disruption. Automated tools play a central role to planning, tracking, and completing relocation projects smoothly… and keeping everyone on the same page.

Ratio Seating Models:

As remote workers continue to drive the appeal of flexible seating, organizations need to be able to assign and track seating ratios that provide less seats than people. If flexible seating is the future, seating ratios will emerge as the core data point informing those optimizations.

Time to go Agile?

While many organizations will be looking to down-size their real estate costs, other will be looking to upgrade their workplaces to meet the fast evolving landscape. Agile workplaces do both, proven to reduce real estate costs by as much 30%, while providing flexible environments that are better equipped to absorb change and support employees.

Talk to a Workplace Expert today to learn how Serraview software technology can help prepare your organization for the future.


Executive Summary: How to Optimize Your Space and Maximize Your Real Estate ROI

Innovative workplace technology, data, and strategies are redefining the Corporate Real Estate (CRE) landscape with powerful new opportunities for organizations to enhance the value of their real estate investments.

Just as technology is enhancing the data and processes that drive space optimization, CRE leaders are discovering exciting ways to align offices with the real needs of employees. Unfortunately, most organizations aren’t taking advantage of these new opportunities, and billions of dollars are being wasted in the process.

In our e-book, Ultimate Guide: How to Optimize Your Space and Maximize Your Real Estate ROI, we outline how technology can be  used to right-size your footprint around the needs of your people. Here’s a preview:

Organizations Face a Problem in Wasted Space

We already know organizations are letting more than 50 percent of their office space go unused at any given time. However, we’ve identified what’s causing swaths of space to go unused and where organizations are missing out on real estate ROI. Here’s what’s stopping most modern offices from reaching their full potential:

  • A lack of accurate data
  • A lack of insight into how space is used
  • A lack of transparency
  • A lack of accountability
  • Lack of autonomy/flexibility

In order to address these common misalignments, we’ve outlined a step-by-step approach to optimizing space and maximizing real estate ROI:

A Look at How to Optimize Space and Maximize Real Estate ROI 

Improve Data to Evaluate Needs

Accurate data is an essential part of determining not just how much space is needed, but what kinds of spaces are needed. Accurate space data is also essential to both employees and CRE leaders alike being able to navigate and make the most of what space they already have. Pulling accurate data can take different forms depending on organizational needs, so we have isolated several key areas that organizations can focus on for improvement:

  • Standardizing and automating data validation
  • Conducting space audits
  • Tracking real-time utilization data
  • Taking advantage of chargebacks

Raw data in and of itself, however, is only half the battle. How that data is represented and how easily it is accessed is absolutely key to how it translates into better decision-making.

Target Inefficiencies with Better Metrics

CRE Leaders rely on a bedrock of core metrics that represent how efficiently they are using their space. Modern technology has enhanced the quality of the essential metrics that have long-guided CRE decisions, and also introduced real-time utilization metrics into the mix for organizations taking their optimization to the next level.

For many organizations, ability to right-size their footprint is directly correlated with their ability to accurately measure:

These metrics unlock new possibilities for both higher financial returns and better workplaces optimized for employee needs.

Empower Employee Autonomy

Employee empowerment means both increasing choice and flexibility in the workplace, and connecting employees to spaces so that available spaces don’t sit unused and undiscovered. 

  • Automated booking and wayfinding
  • Agile spaces
  • Smart offices

Optimize Scenario Planning 

Modern space planning software pulls real data into a sandbox, where employees can create different space scenarios and measure their impact on costs and occupancy. Effective scenario planning can help organizations optimize their footprint by:

  • Consolidating vacant spaces
  • Reclaiming hoarded space
  • Repurposing underused space
  • Going agile and increasing capacity ratios

Key Findings

Discover how leading organizations are leveraging data, technology, and strategy to generate powerful results.

  • Suncorp: This organization switched from manual, paper-based plans to a centralized software solution. Not only did it shed light on occupancy, but it also united the team and dissolved silos that once formed around departments.
  • Illumina: This biotech company was adding personnel at a rapid, 30 percent rate. A renewed data collection process allowed the group to deploy an agile workspace, and it doubled its real estate capacity.

Ready to read the full report and learn how to up your organization’s value? Read the Ultimate Guide: How to Optimize Your Space and Maximize Your Real Estate ROI.


How Serraview Streamlines Space Allocation, Utilization Analysis, and Moves for CRE Leaders

Whether you’re tracking usage data to come up with a company baseline, planning a major move, or just starting to manage and optimize with space utilization data, Serraview’s tools are invaluable to any corporate real estate team. Here are just a few ways you might use Serraview on a regular basis:

Tracking Space Allocations and Occupancy

Serraview performs space analysis by combining space allocation data, building information, and employee data from other sources to provide a broad overview of your entire portfolio. You can see the allocation across your buildings and campuses, or drill down to a specific building or floor. You can also take a closer look at a specific group or department to get insights into how your employees are using their space.

The Serraview dashboard shows your space allocation and occupancy. You’ll see whether you’re hitting your occupancy targets, your total costs and any “opportunity costs” (for example, a department that is holding onto unused desks that could be re-allocated). 

Learn 10 steps to improve workplace efficiency.

Because this data collection and analysis are all performed in Serraview (multiple sources, from IWMS systems to HR systems, feed data to Serraview), your team can skip the monotonous work of manually filling out spreadsheets and jump straight to data analysis. Spend more time asking second-level questions that can lead to smart, evidence-based decisions about how to best optimize and use your space.

Tracking Real-Time Space Utilization

Serraview excels when it comes to track real-time utilization data, data collected from badges and sensors that tells you exactly how space is being used in real-time. For example, by simply tracking badge swipes at the entrance of a building, Serraview can tell you how many people show up on your busiest day of the year, so you can plan for peak utilization. Utilization can also be measured by business unit, and utilization ratios can tell you how many seats different teams need per person.

Sensor data can be used to heat map floors to measure supply and demand by individual space. Serraview lets you create space utilization reports that provide insights into how your employees use conference rooms, hot desks, and other shared spaces.

All of this data is not only critical to identifying inefficiencies with hour-by-hour accuracy, but empowering organizations when making the strategic decision to shift towards shared, agile environments.

Space Planning & Optimization Initiatives

Are you interested in moving from fixed to flexible seating? Would you like to find out if you can save on your next lease renewal by consolidating from four floors to three? Serraview’s scenario planning tool allows you to easily create different scenarios for how you can use your space. You can compare these scenarios side-by-side and, of course, with your current space usage and allocations.

The tool can display different options to co-locate or move different groups and show the impacts of these potential moves. Serraview can even create part of a change management plan by developing the sequence and order for the moves so no one gets displaced.

You’ll be able to see both typical and peak occupancy rates in your building, and see how often you can expect peak occupancy so you can plan appropriately. The data you get and the plans you generate can also build your business case for the move: you’ll be able to show the value-add of consolidating for both the company and the individual employee.Serraview’s color-coding and drag-and-drop features would be especially useful here. In the system, each department and team is assigned a different color. When you’re looking at different optimization options, you can highlight individual employees or whole departments and move them around to get quick visualizations.

Executing a Major Move

Once you have identified inefficiencies, fleshed out plans, and measured their potential benefits and cost savings, it’s time to implement a move.Serraview empowers users to automatically convert plans into move projects, with task by task management to ensure that teams are relocated with minimal disruption, and that projects are delivered on time and on budget.

How can intentional space planning lead to a more engaged workforce?

Once everyone’s moved and settled in the new building, you can collect usage data along with 30-, 90-, and 180-day surveys to see if people are using the new space the way it was envisioned—and continue making tweaks to further optimize the space. Organizations that track real-time utilization data from badges and sensors can evaluate end states with exacting precision, and continuously realign spaces in lock step with occupancy trends.

Ready to see Serraview in action? Request a demo of our space planning and workplace optimization tools today.


The Hidden Costs of Open Office Plans

According to most estimates, about 70% of US offices use an open plan office layout. This type of office design has grown in popularity as companies look for ways to save on real estate—despite the documented open office disadvantages.  

According to some estimates, you can fit 3-5 times as many employees in an open office plan, compared to a traditional office.

In other words, if you had a traditional office layout with private offices for five employees, you could—in theory—convert that into an open office plan and comfortably accommodate 15 to 25 employees. Or you can reduce your current space by as much as one-third and still have room for your current workforce.

Corporate real estate rates vary, but it’s easy to estimate how much money any business can save by transitioning from a traditional layout to an open space office layout.

Open plan office environments also—in theory—foster communication, collaboration and productivity. But in practice, as shown by many studies, productivity and collaboration are negatively impacted. The challenge many companies face is quantifying these “soft costs” and accurately comparing them to the hard costs of the real estate savings.

The Downside of Open Plan Offices

Let’s try to help with that. We’ll look at two of the biggest negative effects associated with open office layouts and run the numbers in some imaginary scenarios. 

To keep numbers as simple as possible, let’s start with a hypothetical start-up in Manhattan, New York City:

  • 100 employees in a traditional office layout, with private offices
  • Total office square footage is a roomy 22,500 square feet (based on 2010 averages)
  • Rent is $5/square foot/month (a little below New York’s average)
  • Average employee salary is $105,000/year
  • Total annual real estate expenses: $1.35 million (to keep this simple, we won’t worry about utilities and other costs for these scenarios)
  • Total employee salary expenses: $10.5 million (we also won’t worry about benefits and perks here)

Cost Comparisons: Moving to a Smaller Office

First, to save on real estate expenses, the company’s leadership decides to move to a smaller office space. They choose a building in the same neighborhood with similar amenities, so the cost per square foot is the same, but it’s one-third smaller, bringing the square footage per person down to 150—the 2017 average. 

Now they’ve got 100 employees in an open office layout that’s just 15,000 square feet, so the annual real estate expenses are $900,000.

Real estate savings: $450,000

Ignoring moving expenses, the leadership team almost immediately notices changes to their employees’ productivity.

The employee experience of the workplace makes a difference—here’s how.

There are plenty of open plan office concept studies that demonstrate how they can be detrimental to employee productivity and engagement. One commonly-cited study showed that employees in open office plans experienced a 15% decrease in productivity. It’s challenging to tie “productivity” to revenue or other KPIs, so we’ll use employee salaries for this part.

If we assume that in the old, traditional office, all the employees were as productive as they could possibly be and the company is getting a solid return on their annual $10.5 million salary expense. However, in their new open plan office, the employees are achieving just 85% of what they used to, so 15% of that salary expense is essentially wasted.

Loss in potential productivity (measured in salary expense): $1,575,000

That alone is a powerful argument against the open office plan. But it goes further. Another study found that employees in open plan offices take 62% more sick days each year than their colleagues in private offices. According to the office for National Statistics, employees averaged 4.1 sick days in 2017.

Let’s assume that our tech startup is made up of mostly healthy people, and in their old office, they only averaged 2.5 sick days per year ($1,050 in salary per employee, for a total annual cost of $105,000).

But based on the study, in the new open plan office they’ll be taking 4.2 sick days per year. That brings the company’s costs for sick days up to $176,400.

Loss in productivity: $71,400

So each year, those real estate savings are offset by over $1.6 million (potentially) in lost salary. And that doesn’t even go into the negative effects open offices might have on employees’ overall well-being, engagement, and satisfaction. Our hypothetical startup could also be looking at increased turnover rates and other unforeseen costs.

Learn how well-designed workplaces can address employee well-being.

Luckily, there are other options that don’t require going back to closed spaces. Activity-based working addresses the disadvantages of open floor plans by providing task-oriented spaces, like phone booths for calls, designated “quiet zones,” a variety of collaborative spaces or soft seating options—whatever type of spaces employees need. Employees are also given the control and freedom to choose where they want to work each day (or move around throughout the day) based on what they need to get done.

Learn more about activity-based working and what you need to transition your workplace—download Creating an Activity-Based Working Strategy today.


What to Consider When Accommodating Multiple Generations in the Workplace

The ability to adapt to different work styles and personalities isn’t something only HR professionals need to worry about, it’s become a bigger topic for corporate real estate (CRE) leaders as well. The way people work, collaborate, and react to new technology all affect workplace productivity, workplace design and office space utilization.

In today’s modern world, there’s a chance that a company could have five generations in the workplace all at once. They’re categorized as Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. They vary in age ranges, habits, and ideals—all of which can affect the working environment.

As you might guess, this raises a few challenges due to older traditions meshing (and sometimes conflicting) with newer platforms and processes. For example, the advent of AI-based technology and other technical advances simply weren’t around during the Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, and in many cases, Gen X generations. One of the best ways CRE leaders can maximize space utilization while speaking to the general needs of each group is to understand varying work styles and learn how to adapt to each.

Understanding the Work Styles of Different Generations

As of 2018, millennials (born: 1981-1996) make up more than one-third of the U.S. workforce. Gen-Xers (born: 1965-1980) are right behind at 33%, followed by Baby Boomers (born: 1946-1964) at 25%, Gen Z (born: 1997 or later) at 5%, and Traditionalists (born: 1945 or earlier) at 2%. Each group is generalized by certain traits that affect how they interact with others in the workplace. While employees are individuals, it’s important for CRE and HR to know these traits and how often they actually do or do not apply to each group.

For example, an in-depth report conducted by CBRE broke down common stereotypes of the millennial audience. It challenged the notion that those born between 1981 and 1996 expect to be always digitally connected, blurring work/life distinctions. It also determined they are collaborative workers both in terms of workplace and working style. 

However, research from the CBRE study also showed only one-third of millennials expressed interest in a collaborative working environment or open-plan offices. They are more endeared to activity-based work setups that provide flexibility. Conversely, Baby Boomer employees are 50% more likely to want a private office than a millennial.

It’s likely those from the Baby Boomer generation have more managerial experience and are higher on the employee hierarchy based on years of experience alone. Their role may require more process-driven focus and less ongoing collaboration. Which begs the question: does age really matter? The answer is: yes and no.

Age can be indicative of years in the workforce and specific industry. It also speaks to the cultural norms a person is used to. A person who grew up in the age of the Internet may have a greater chance of adapting to technology than someone who never used a smartphone as a teen or young adult. But when handling different generations in the workplace, it seems working styles have more to do with industry expectations, work culture habits, and workspace preferences than how old someone is.

Learn how to attract top talent by catering to what matters most to millennials.

Industry Expectations

Banking institutions are generally more traditional in their cubicle and private office setups than tech companies who often embrace open space concepts. Yet these days, the titans of Finance, with their vast global campuses, are honing in on their workplace environments as key tools in the race for talent. While many institutions are stuck in the days of cubicle farms, others are now joining the cream of Silicon Valley on the leading edge of Activity Based workplaces, and flexible environments.

Work Culture Habits

During the age of Baby Boomers, multitasking was less of a priority. With the later generations growing up with mobile devices, they are used to working on multiple systems and applications at once. It’s not uncommon for a Millennial or Gen Z employee to be working on a laptop and simultaneously responding to communication on his or her smartphone.

However, each group can still identify with the need for balance between multitasking and quiet focus. Anyone who has been in back-to-back meetings understands that while collaborative interaction is taking place, actual, task-oriented jobs are likely not being completed. Each person, regardless of generation, must embody several different working styles per day depending on the role and task at-hand.

Generational Workspace Preferences

CRE leaders focus on how to save on cost while still making the majority of employees happy. To achieve this, the questions become more employee-centric and less based on the categorized preferences of different generations. For example: 

  • How much do job roles play a part in space planning? Do certain departments need to be seated together for easier communication? Who has private offices and are they all fully utilized?
  • Does remote working make more sense for certain generations than others? Or, is this more personality-based?
  • Is a fully open-space concept the way of the modern world or do activity-based seating environments make more sense?

One way to start to break down what kind of environment works best is to survey employees and welcome specific feedback. To complement that data, enable office space utilization software that can tell you how much of your current space is being used and how. For example, if data shows a lack of collaboration among employees, decide if more space should be allocated for smaller, informal meetings. Additionally, identify if there are enough spaces that speak to employee needs, especially the majority millennial audience, like break areas and quiet spots.

It’s safe to say that with the possibility of five generations in the workplace at any given time, there’s a multitude of things to consider. By identifying work style expectations, habits, and preferences, it can begin to shed light on how to design and optimize the workplace to meet the evolving needs of employees.

To learn more about creating a smart workplace strategy that accommodates changing business needs and retains top talent, download our guide on Best Practices for the Modern Workplace Environment.