The Importance of Data Integrity in Corporate Real Estate (CRE)

As a corporate real estate leader, you need accurate, precise data—often in real-time—in order to make critical short- and long-term business decisions. Whether you’re trying to boost productivity by co-locating business groups or negotiate for better lease options, it is imperative to have data you can trust.

Data integrity refers to the quality and reliability of the data: in a nutshell, is the data extracted and communicated in a consistent and rigorous format? Understanding the importance of data integrity, and how to maintain it, is especially crucial when you’re using a tool like Serraview, which takes in data from multiple outside sources, such as your IWMS, entry sensors and other IoT devices.

If data integrity isn’t maintained, you won’t be able to make evidence-based business decisions. Either you won’t get data at all because of an issue with the systems sending and receiving data, or the data you do get won’t be accurate or valid.

The Three Pillars of Space Planning Software

Before we examine how to verify data integrity, let’s review the “three pillars” of space planning:

1. Gathering Data

In today’s workplace, data comes in a variety of forms: space management information, space utilization data, cloud and network usage, building systems and utilities, employee productivity and engagement, and more. You need a robust tool (or tools) to collect and aggregate this mountain of data.

2. Analyzing Data

A tool like Serraview is able to conduct the important first level of analysis on this aggregated data, allowing you to see accurate, real-time reporting about space usage and more. Other effective tools employ data science and machine learning to identify patterns and compare real-time with historical data to better inform your decisions.

3. Taking Action

Armed with this analysis, from a CRE perspective, your next step is to look at it critically and ask questions. For example: Do your group allocations make sense, or are people randomly split up from their team? What’s causing the conference room shortages that seem to happen every Thursday?

Once you go after these next-level insights, you’re able to make evidence-based decisions to improve your workplace.

A Data Contract

When one system takes in data and then sends it to another system for aggregation and analysis, there needs to be a shared understanding of the content and formatting of that data.

Serraview creates a “data contract” that documents what kind of data the system will receive and from where. The system checks all the data it receives to ensure it conforms to this expectation. If the data Serraview gets is inconsistent in some way, it will either request to resend the data or alert the user that there is an issue.

Ensuring Data Integrity

Serraview, and the systems it receives data from, typically uses a checksum hash function on all data to ensure this data contract is being upheld. The sending system takes its large file of complex information, runs it through the checksum hash function, and gets a simple label (like “12345”). It sends the data file and label to Serraview, which runs its own checksum hash function. If Serraview gets the same “12345” label, it will accept the data. If not, it will reject it and either request it be resent or alert the user.

The Right Amount of Flexibility

When there are issues with data integrity, you generally have two options. First, you can go back to the sending system and correct the data it collected. For example, if your IWMS collects HR data on new hires and sends it to Serraview as part of the space utilization analysis process, and you discover the manual data entry was done incorrectly. The data can simply be re-entered and re-sent to Serraview.

Second, Serraview’s settings can accommodate a certain level of variation in the data it receives. You might be switching to new entry sensors, and the old devices send whole numbers (10) while the news ones are slightly more precise (10.0). Without some degree of artificial intelligence and flexibility, Serraview would unnecessarily reject the data it’s receiving from the new sensors.

Good Business Decisions Reinforce the Importance of Data Integrity

Maintaining data integrity is a cornerstone of Serraview’s development. Without a system that rigorously maintains high standards for your data, you can’t obtain any meaningful analysis to make strong decisions.

But technology can’t do all the work—the individuals using the data to make decisions need to have some knowledge about the context. If the reports and analysis you get seem off, you must determine:

  • Is the data received from an input system corrupt?
  • Is the system rejecting accurate data because it’s not being flexible enough?
  • Is the system being too flexible and accepting bad data?

The human side of maintaining data quality involves thinking critically and asking questions. To make sure your technology and systems are conforming to your expectations and standards, you should run periodic checks and audits to verify and validate the data you’re getting. If you are working with bad data, these will help pinpoint the source so you can correct the issue.

To ensure the data being entered into Serraview is valid and accurate, there’s a built-in CRM system that allows individual business units to review and validate their allocations, saving the CRE team from doing manual walk-throughs. Companies can create their own processes to ensure data gets reviewed and validated on a regular basis, and the system can also provide reports on whether or not that happens, so the CRE team is informed and can follow up directly with department heads when needed.

Interested in collecting more, and better, data so you can make strong, informed business decisions about your workforce and workplace? Download our guide to workplace utilization data and discover how IoT and other technologies provide insights.


Effective Strategic Planning Can Improve your Business’s Probability for Success

As 2018 comes to a close and the new year begins, it’s a perfect time for your organization to reflect on the year. What were you able to accomplish? Make sure you celebrate your successes – it’s important. Did you have any shortcomings? If so, how can you improve on them? If you haven’t started already, the end of the year is the time to commence the strategic planning process. Strategic planning will help you identify and agree on priorities for the year(s) ahead, focus your resources so you can execute and manage your plan more efficiently and ultimately hold people accountable, so you can position your company for success.

Identify and Agree on Priorities for Your Strategic Plan

Historically, real estate costs have been a company’s second or third largest cost, so short-term gain through cost-cutting has been a priority. Now that the workplace is becoming a strategic asset in the eyes of many executives, corporate real estate (CRE) professionals are ensuring that their strategic plans and initiatives are aligned more closely with the company’s long-term business strategy.

Determining priorities for your strategic plan takes a collaborative approach, especially when it comes to the corporate workplace. CRE professionals must get input and gain buy-in from several key stakeholders. Yes, the real estate team will provide input, based on data about the workplace and their employees they have gained over time, but also senior executives from Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology and Operations may add valuable insight. Including other groups as you conduct your planning assessment will help to ensure that you select the right areas of improvement and identify appropriate goals. Most importantly, a collaborative approach will help you gain support for them which will be critical in the execution phase.

Learn strategies to modernize your relocation process.

Execute and Manage Your Plan

Once you have agreed on goals, the next step is to prioritize them into a plan. The plan should align CRE efforts to achieve the company’s goals. For example, moving the company from a traditional environment to one more flexible or even activity based, entails more than just buying the right equipment. It probably includes changing the culture of the organization so that employees feel more comfortable in their new environment. In this case, achieving employee buy-in could be key to your success.

Your plan will also take the adoption of new policies and procedures and a strong communication plan to make it work. And, most importantly, your strategic plan should incorporate metrics so you can track successes and identify improvements.

Hold People Accountable

A final critical component of the strategic planning process is to hold people accountable to your plan. If you gathered feedback from the right people or groups and crafted a plan that aligns to the broader business strategy, you have already done a lot of things. This collaborative approach to strategic planning that involves many different groups should lead to higher engagement from your teams and better outcomes. If your stakeholders have a say in the strategic direction and initiatives you choose, they are more likely to have a sense of ownership in the process – and may make good team leaders for the various initiatives. Holding them accountable with regular intervals where you monitor the progress and results will help them to be successful in achieving their goals and will minimize any of your action items getting off track. You can work with each team or initiative leaders to set achievable goals.

Do you want to learn how Serraview helps corporate real estate professionals with strategic planning? Request a free demo today.


How Companies Can Benefit by “Saving in Place”

Should we stay or should we go? Raise your hand if you’re a corporate real estate executive who’s asked that question before. As you review and re-evaluate different workspaces, you may wonder if staying in your current office will in fact be double the trouble of going elsewhere.

Why You Should Consider “Saving in Place”

Even though it may seem like your current space just is not working out (you’re growing or shrinking too much to justify the space, it’s underutilized more often since you adopted a more flexible work policy, or your current office floor plan no longer meets the needs of your restructured departments), you probably have more options to save in place than you think. Here’s why you should do that:

  • You’re limited to your existing location due to ownership or an extended lease term. Owning the building means you can redesign the office building floor plans or consolidate your team to open a floor and find a tenant. If you lease, you may be able to negotiate for better lease terms or benefits, or work with your landlord to adjust your workspace to better meet your needs.
  • You’re in a beneficial location. You may be paying a premium rate for a high-rise downtown or in an urban core, and lower rents in the suburbs look enticing. But consider this: Is your current location convenient to public transit, or close to where most of your employees live? Will they be burdened by the commute? Are you close to amenities that your employees value? Does your location make you attractive to prospects or give you access to a larger talent pool? Moving somewhere else might end up costing you in other ways (in addition to the actual move costs).

Ready to Save in Place? Get Informed

The first step when deciding how you’ll save in place is to get good data. Utilization software like Serraview’s can help you understand your current occupancy rates and usage patterns. It can also help you project and plan different scenarios for expansion or downsizing. Imagine being able to easily visualize how you could best configure your office floor plans to accommodate different rates of growth two, three, or five years out. A tool like Serraview will allow you to confidently say “yes, we can downsize our current space by 20% and still use it effectively for the next three years.”

This could be your opportunity to start transitioning to an agile or activity-based workspace. Learn why that’s a superior option to an open office floor plan.

Seeing and understand usage patterns—like the spike each Thursday when 90% of your employees are in the office, or that two conference rooms are used every day and the third is empty 80% of the time—will provide the evidence-based data to develop alternate ways to use your space.

Find out other strategies corporate real estate leaders can use to reduce costs.

Optimizing Lease Terms

Data-based knowledge about your needs allows your to bring a clear vision to your landlord. If, for example, your company takes up one floor and wants to downsize by 30%, your landlord might argue that 30% of one floor can’t be leased to another tenant. With good data, you may be able to determine that you can give up 50% of your current space to be leased out.

Understanding your current state vs. future state allows you to request first right of refusal. If you’re aware of your space use, you can negotiate for additional amenities, such as more allocated parking spaces, or other services.

Optimizing Office Floor Plans

If you are able to downsize—and hopefully reduce your rent payments—you’ll want to use space planning software that delivers utilization data to create efficient office floor plans and layouts. You can also put some of that savings towards improving your space—perhaps by investing in standing desks, updating office furniture and decor, or offering other perks to boost employee engagement.

In the event that you are unable to physically downsize space and lease obligations, you still have options to better use the space.

If you pay for utilities, see if you can consolidate your employees so you can turn off the lights and other systems in one section of your floor or building.

Think creatively about the unused or little-used spaces in your office. For example, instead of having a large, open room that’s only half-occupied, you can use demountable walls to create a separate room that could be a breakroom/hangout spot or brainstorming space. Or perhaps you could knock down walls so that you get more natural light (and reduce your lighting needs). Utilization software can help you identify needs and change your office floor plans so it’s a more pleasant place to work as well as save you money.

Want to see how you can update your office floor plans to better use the space you have? Contact us today for a demo of Serraview’s space planning tool.


ARCHIBUS and Serraview Combine to Create Market-Leading Real Estate and Workplace Management Platform

BOSTON, NEW YORK, and MELBOURNE, December 5, 2018 –  ARCHIBUS, an industry-leading integrated workplace management system (IWMS) platform, and Serraview, a cloud-based provider of space optimization and workforce enablement software, today announced that they have merged to create the leading provider of solutions for managing the modern built environment. JMI Equity, a growth equity firm focused on investing in leading software companies, has made a strategic growth investment as part of the transaction. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This powerful business combination unites ARCHIBUS’ comprehensive suite of real estate, infrastructure, and facilities management solutions with Serraview’s cloud-first, employee-centric space management software to help organizations optimize the “Workplace of the Future.” The combined company will be led by Wain Kellum, a seasoned technology executive.

“ARCHIBUS and Serraview share a commitment to providing customers with the software solutions they need to optimize their workplace resources and physical assets to provide an environment that will attract and motivate today’s dynamic workforce,” said Wain Kellum, Chief Executive Officer of the combined company. “With the modern, people-centric focus of Serraview’s solution and ARCHIBUS’ market-leading products, the combined platform is best positioned to address modern workplace trends across many industries.”

The combined company will offer thousands of customers around the world an integrated, IoT powered, user-friendly platform to effectively manage their real estate facilities, infrastructure, workplace assets, and enable employees. The company’s technology enables a seamless experience for workplace executives, facilities managers, and employees of global, forward-thinking organizations. With the strategic partnership of JMI Equity, the company will accelerate investments in product development and customer success initiatives.

“Serraview was founded on the principle of providing companies with an intuitive way of managing all of their real estate in a way that creates efficient and effective people-centric workplaces,” said Stephen Macnee, co-founder of Serraview. “Now, together with ARCHIBUS, we can reach a larger audience and accomplish our mission of giving employers and employees the solutions they need to best utilize their space.”

“The combination of ARCHIBUS and Serraview creates a clear market leader equipped to meet the increasing demand for modern, connected and flexible workspaces,” said Brian Hersman, General Partner of JMI Equity. “We’re excited to partner with the management teams of ARCHIBUS and Serraview to drive continued success and growth.”

KeyBanc Capital Markets is serving as exclusive financial advisor to Serraview, and Cooley is serving as legal counsel. Mintz Levin is serving as legal counsel to ARCHIBUS. Goodwin is serving as legal counsel to JMI Equity.


ARCHIBUS leads the global marketplace in applying comprehensive technology solutions and services to manage your built-environment. ARCHIBUS’ worldwide Federated Ecosystem enables organizations across the globe to consolidate systems onto a single integrated platform for all the data, planning and operations of real estate, infrastructure and facilities. For more information, visit

About Serraview

Serraview is a global provider of space optimization solutions created to enable forward-thinking organizations to deliver today’s modern workplace. Serraview’s solutions are designed to increase real estate portfolio utilization, streamline operations, and enable smarter, more productive work environments. Serraview is a platform at the intersection of people, place and technology – driving a future that is good for business and great for people. For more information, visit

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 140 businesses in its target markets, successfully completed over 90 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

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Media Contacts

For JMI Equity:                                                                                                             Chuck Dohrenwend or William Braun 
Abernathy MacGregor
[email protected] / [email protected]


How Big Data Is Changing Corporate Real Estate

How’s this for some almost incomprehensible numbers: It’s been reported that 90% of the data in the world has been generated in just the last two years. We are currently creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily—and that rate is accelerating. (1 quintillion has 12 zeros, in case you were wondering.)

Big Data has infiltrated every industry and every organizational group. Big Data in real estate is no exception. It’s reaching our personal lives in ways many of us don’t even realize yet. And it’s not groundbreaking to predict that this trend will only continue.

Because of the rate at which Big Data is growing and the incredible number of ways it can (and will) be used, it’s important to take a step back and seek a greater understanding of what types of data are being collected, how it’s gathered and analyzed, and how it can best be used by organizations. All those quintillions of data points mean nothing without the ability to capture, review, and analyze them effectively and, ultimately, use them to make informed business decisions.

The Limits of Big Data for Real Estate

For the past several years, Big Data has been touted as the solution to every business problem. If it’s not solving your problems yet, it will soon—or so we’ve been told. And so, many corporate real estate leaders have focused primarily on capturing and gathering as much data as possible, through IoT sensors, building management systems, and employee management systems.

What IoT integrations provide the most value for space planning?

Now, however, companies have huge amounts of data without the means of effectively analyzing it. Raw data, without analysis and context, isn’t useful when making business decisions. Companies may try to build an in-house team to get a handle on the data coming in, but without training in how to work with Big Data, most of what those teams do amounts to guesswork and science experiments. This is why working with a vendor or platform that specializes in data collection and analysis, like Serraview, is so crucial.

Part of the problem companies face is that we are still figuring out which data is the most valuable for corporate real estate. We know that looking at desk assignments and space usage in real-time can provide actionable insights, but when we started to combine that data with, say, information on air quality from building systems, we found patterns we didn’t expect. In other cases, we found solid evidence to back what we’ve suspected for years—that air quality can impact the health, happiness, and productivity of employees. With this knowledge, you can work with your building maintenance team to optimize your building’s environment.

Know What You’re Looking For

With Big Data, it’s really easy to get caught up in the latest shiny object. A new sensor or beacon comes out that measures X and you become obsessed with measuring X without first questioning why you want to measure it or what insights it will provide. When it comes to Big Data in real estate, you need to stay focused on the questions you’re asking—otherwise you end up wasting time and money. After all, if you’re making an apple pie, you’d be wasting your time trying to harvest all the raspberries you can find.

Why is space planning so important for corporate real estate?

Some questions you may consider include:

  • How do people in my organization work together or collaborate?
  • How are they using the space?
  • What does a day in the life look like for different people or teams in my organization?
  • What tools are they using and how?
  • How is technological collaboration happening?

Staying clear and focused on these questions will help you seek out the data that will be the most valuable and provide the best insights.

Using Big Data Strategically

The strength of a tool like Serraview is to take all that data you’re collecting—from sensors and beacons, other software platforms, and systems—and make it useful and actionable. You still need to ask the right questions and think critically about the analysis Serraview provides, but it makes the process more efficient.

Want to learn more about how Serraview helps corporate real estate leaders make evidence-based business decisions? Request a free demo today.


How Data Visualization Can Help You Save on Real Estate Costs

Doesn’t everyone love good data visualization? Cool infographics and colorful charts look great on slide decks or websites, but once you have that pretty visual aid, what do you do with it?

Here’s how real estate data visualization tools like Serraview help you take huge amounts of data and actually use it to make business decisions.

What Data Does Serraview Help You Visualize?

A data visualization tool like Serraview makes it easy to see:

  • Visual breakdowns of the number of employees in each department vs. the number of allocated workstations or desks
  • A team’s occupancy with its target ratio
  • Heat map indicating utilization of your space in a specific time frame
  • Which teams have fixed seating, flexible seating, or a combination of both

When viewing the data, every team member is color-coded (so, for example, everyone in the Finance department is orange, everyone in Marketing is green, etc.) and you can easily drag-and-drop different individuals or whole units to help you visualize potential moves. The color-coding also makes it easy to drill into the data for a specific department to get deeper insights.

In Serraview’s Portfolio Manager, get a quick snapshot of allocations by department on each floor, or view each floor’s layout for a detailed look at who sits where.

With Serraview, you can also simulate different scenarios, like setting different target seat ratios or whether fixed or flexible seating may be best for your organization.

One of the biggest strengths of a robust data visualization tool is that you can visualize different data sets instantly, in real time—the software has done all the work of gathering and analyzing the data, and both the data and the analysis is contained within the system. Instead of manually downloading and manipulating Excel spreadsheets, you can skip ahead to the step of using the data to make strong, evidence-based decisions. This reduces the risk of introducing errors in that Excel manipulation and when a piece of data changes, you don’t have to download a new file and start over.

Read more about what kind of business decisions you can make with good data.

What Can You Do with the Data?

Your data visualization tool will help you understand how people use your space and see trends—and once you start doing that, you can find opportunities to optimize your workspace, save money, and even help your employees be more productive. You can start to ask and answer questions like:

Consolidate or Expand?

Are you using your space efficiently? You may look at consolidating teams and/or space and save on real estate costs when your lease is up.

On the other hand, if you are planning to grow and hire 50 more employees in the next 6-12 months, you can start to plan ahead and visualize different floor plans and layouts to make sure everyone will have enough space to work comfortably.

What workplace data can help you use your space more efficiently?

Are There Co-Location Opportunities?

In many companies, it’s common to put certain teams (Sales and Marketing, for example) near each other because people assume these groups have a natural affinity. But the data may reveal that the Marketing team actually spends more time with the Product team—and those groups are about as far away as they can get. Moving them closer together means they spend less time walking to and from meetings and increases opportunities for “water cooler” conversations.

How Many Conference Rooms and What Size?

As we have moved into the knowledge worker’s world, conference rooms and other collaborative spaces have become more important than ever. However, many offices still adhere to traditional (old) industry standards that dictate, for every X employees, you have a set number of small, medium, and large conference rooms. These standards don’t take into account every organization’s different needs—the truth is there’s no “one size fits all.” Your data visualization tool will help you determine the optimum mix of spaces and sizes for the needs of each department.

Serraview’s Heatmap view shows the most and least-used areas of your workplace, allowing you to ask higher-level questions about utilization.

Potential Pitfalls of Data Visualization Tools

Like we said at the beginning, everyone loves cool infographics and colorful charts. But your data visualization tool is just that—a tool that needs to be applied with critical thought. Watch out for these common pitfalls:

Assuming the Data Is Flawless

Imagine you’re looking at a visualization of desk assignments by team. You notice that most of your Accounting team is on the third floor, but one person is assigned to the second floor. Is that person there by mistake, or is your HR data incorrect? Maybe she started in Accounting but recently transferred to Sales. You might be surprised by what your data shows you—but avoid immediately jumping to conclusions or skipping the obvious questions.

Jumping to Action Too Quickly

Once you have the data, the next step is to ask questions. Don’t just start moving people and re-assigning teams based on the visualization alone. Using the example above, your first step shouldn’t be to immediately re-assign that person but to get more information. Is she there by mistake? Is there a reason that she’s separate from the rest of the Accounting team? Keep an critical eye out especially for these oddities—asking the right questions will, in most cases, lead to a deeper understanding of how people use your space and help you improve and optimize it.

Want to see Serraview’s data visualization tools in action? Request a free demo here.


Rethinking Your Building Space: How Office Layouts Are Evolving

Here at Serraview, we’re fascinated by the workspace and the data it can provide – how it functions in order to help work and create a positive workplace.

Today, we know more than ever about the factors that contribute to productivity and collaboration in a workplace, but now that we have the data, we’re challenged to figure out what it all means. Once you understand that, you can make decisions about open office layouts, closed offices, collaborative spaces, and other usage and space planning questions. Companies that don’t use space planning and space utilization software like Serraview don’t necessarily have the data to make those informed decisions.

Let’s look at how office layouts have evolved and how (we believe) they will continue to do so.

A Brief Timeline of Office Layouts

When we consider “modern offices,” we go back a little over one hundred years to the early 1900s. These offices were modeled after factory floors, with long rows of desks and no walls or dividers—a completely open layout. Private executive offices overlooked these worker spaces.

In the 1950s-1960s, the office layout was still open, but the German “office landscape” concept brought executives out of their private suites and arranged assigned desks according to job function.

In the late 1960s, furniture designer Herman Miller introduced “modular business furniture” that was intended to promote collaboration and flexibility. Today, we call modular business furniture “cubicles.”

By the 1980s, “cube farms” were the norm (perhaps best displayed in the 1999 movie Office Space).

With the rise of the internet in the 1990s, the “virtual office” gained traction. Thanks to increased internet access, email, and cell phones, employees didn’t have to physically be in the office to get their work done. Some companies, trying to reduce real estate costs, started encouraging virtual or remote work.

Since the early 2000s, office design layouts have been shifting in all sorts of ways. Cubicle farms started to disappear in favor of open office plans. Trendy tech firms started building creative offices designed to cater to employees’ needs and wants.

Paying attention to your employees’ experience matters—learn why.

Current Trends: Open Office vs. Activity-Based Working

As open office plans grew in popularity, so did the backlash against them. In many cases, these office layouts discouraged collaboration instead of promoting it as promised. Frustrated by noisy spaces and lack of privacy, employees would stay hunched over their computers with headphones on if they wanted to get work done.

In contrast, the activity-based workplace recognizes that different types of work activities, and different types of employees, need different spaces. A marketing manager, for example, might divide her day into focused work, meetings, and collaborative work. In an activity-based workplace, the office layout would provide distinct spaces for each activity. She might start her day in a “quiet zone” workstation, move to a conference room for a couple hours, and end her day at a desk in the marketing department’s “neighborhood” where she can brainstorm and share ideas with her team.

What other advantages does ABW have over open office layouts? Find out.

The Pendulum Swing: Back to Equilibrium

It’s hard to predict what trends in office layouts will prevail over time. Right now, we’re seeing companies go to various extremes: Some are encouraging remote work as much as possible (some don’t even have an office at all; everyone in the organization works remotely), while others, including tech giant IBM, have reversed course and started mandating all employees work in an office.

Everyone is looking for the right mix of efficiency, productivity, collaboration, and innovation. IBM found that something was lacking when people weren’t interacting face-to-face. They needed to bring people back to the office to create “water cooler moments” of spontaneous collaboration and develop mentorship relationships. Other companies are depending on communication platforms like Skype and Slack to build that virtually.

If we expect anything, it will be a softening of extremes. A few companies will choose “all or nothing” when it comes to a traditional office or no office, but the majority will settle somewhere in the activity-based or hybrid office layout.

Tech Continues to Drive Change

One thing we can be sure of is that technology will be used in offices in more ways. Most importantly, in one sense, technology like Serraview’s space planning and space utilization software will become indispensable as companies seek those functional spaces that work best for their employees.

Getting accurate, real-time data about your space—everything from your building systems to activity in Conference Room B—will help you make evidence-based decisions about everything from lease renewals to reconfiguring a floor to getting new office furniture.

Learn how your workplace can attract and retain talent, enhance your employees’ experience, enable collaboration, and more—download our whitepaper on best practices for the modern workplace.


Workforce Empowerment: What’s in a Space?

It’s not news that your office—its layout, style, decor, and overall design—can profoundly impact your employees and their performance. Your space planning design can help make this impact positive by encouraging productive and collaborative activities.

Space Planning Design for Business Needs

Ultimately, your office design should facilitate your employee’s work so the business can achieve its goals. Productive, engaged employees (i.e. those who can do their work better and faster) usually mean more business goals are met.

So, when looking at the space planning and design for your office, you must be clear on:

  • Your business goals
  • The work your employees need to do to achieve those goals

For example, one business goal might be to expand into a new market by the end of the year. To do that, your marketing team needs to be able to research and develop a solid marketing strategy. What does that research and development look like? Lots of time and space to brainstorm ideas? Onsite research in that new market? Maybe focus groups to test different strategies?

Once you understand your business goals and how they’ll be achieved, you can begin your space planning design to best facilitate that work.

Getting Good Employee Input

When you’re planning a change in your workplace, whether it’s relatively small or radical, getting and using input from employees is a good way to help them get excited about the change. The key is to get constructive input. There are three methods companies use most:

  • Surveys: These can be very helpful, but it’s often challenging to design a survey that will give you complete and accurate data. Employees may not have time to fill out surveys, so you may have to offer incentives to get responses.
  • Focus groups: Focus groups allow you to ask deeper, more specific questions to a select group of people that represent each department or business unit.
  • Audits: Walking around your workplace, observing what people are doing—and asking them, what they’re doing and what would make their jobs easier—can give you a lot of good information. But, you’ll need to conduct this exercise several times to get a complete picture.

Space planning and utilization software, like Serraview, can provide an accurate picture of the type of work people are doing. Empirical data can illustrate how often employees are in meetings or conferences or how frequently they collaborate or work solo. Of course, it also will show many people or which teams are typically in the office on any given day.

The data you gain from strong utilization software can be invaluable. You may know, based on data that your utilization software provides that approximately 60% of your employees are in the office at a given time. But, does that mean 60% of every department? More likely, maybe 25% of your sales staff is in the office most of the time, along with 80% of your HR department, 50% of your legal team, and 40% of your IT department (except on the various days each week or month when different departments have “all hands” meetings). Utilization software will be able to provides specific data so your space planning design can account for the different needs of each group.

How does space planning software maximize ROI?

Create Water Cooler Moments—but Don’t Force Them

Most companies today want a space planning design that encourages collaboration, both planned (breakout or brainstorming rooms that teams can book) and spontaneous (cafe-like settings where people can stop and chat while having coffee). You should intentionally try to design a layout that encourages a certain flow through the space. You can add furniture and other items, like whiteboards, that will encourage people to share ideas when they meet. But don’t get so fixated on creating the “ideal water cooler” space, and don’t worry if the space doesn’t get used exactly as you intended.

Learn how to make your workplace go from lifeless to lively.

If certain spaces are being used differently than designed, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being used incorrectly. If a space is designed to meet people’s needs, they will use it—but their needs might not be exactly what you envisioned. Flexibility is a crucial element in every space planning design.

Flexibility does not have to mean a completely open office, or even an activity-based workspace. It just means that, as you design your space for your current needs and you keep potential needs in mind. This may mean choosing smaller desks for offices to make it easier to move them (and people) around. Or it may mean running cables and wires through ceilings to make it easy to convert an office to a conference room with video capability. You will not be able to plan for every possible scenario, but with some forethought, you can make it easier to adapt to different possibilities.

Strong space utilization software makes office space planning and design a snap—request a demo today and find out how.


Why Many Corporations Fail to Optimize Their Buildings for Peak Utilization

You’ve made the switch to activity-based working and have reduced your footprint. You’ve removed desks and individual workstations, and now your people-to-seat ratio has been adjusted based on your usage data. You managed the transition well and your employees seem happy and productive.

Until…somehow, every department decided to schedule an all-hands meeting on the same day. Will there be chaos as everyone tries to find an open desk and sufficient meeting room space? Or have you planned for peak utilization of your building?

What Is Peak Utilization?

It’s the scenario above—when everyone, or nearly everyone, shows up to the office, expecting to have a desk or workstation. Will there be enough to go around? As companies adjust their people-to-seat ratio (on the understanding that, on average, 40% of their space isn’t being used) and move to hybrid or agile working environments, planning for peak utilization is a crucial exercise.

Change how you track space utilization to get a more accurate picture of your building usage.

What it Takes to Plan for Peak Utilization

There are two main approaches that go hand-in-hand:

1. Understand work patterns so you know when/how often to expect peak utilization

Each department likely has slightly different needs and work patterns. Maybe Monday through Thursday, you can safely assume that only half the Sales team will be in the office, but that department has a meeting every Friday and almost all of them will be there in person.

Maybe the Marketing team, which works next to Sales, also regularly schedules a team meeting the last Friday of every month, so you know that’s the day when that space will be crowded.

2. Encourage work patterns to keep resource utilization balanced

You could just accept that on that last Friday, Marketing and Sales will be fighting for space. Or you could share the data you have with Marketing and Sales to help them make a decision about their schedules.

Take a close look at employee work patterns so you know what to expect on any given day.

Activity-based working is not a one-size-fits-all—learn how it can be adapted for your company.

What’s Stopping Companies from Planning for Peak Utilization

Historically, getting accurate data on building usage required time-consuming manual audits. Now, thanks to space planning and utilization software and other technology, the bigger barrier is effective communication. Employees often resist being told to change the way they work—whether that means giving up their desk or scheduling meetings earlier or later to avoid overbooked conference rooms. Having a strong change management and communication plan will help you implement policies to handle peak utilization.

But What Do You Do When Everyone Shows Up?

Sometimes, no matter how much you plan and prepare, you’ll be surprised by a full office. If you’ve been creative and purposeful with your space planning, you won’t have chaos. Set up multi-use spaces that people can use: lobbies, hallways, cafeterias or breakrooms can all be outfitted to serve as part-time workstations or meeting spaces. Some companies can make use of outdoor spaces as well.

When you create multi-use spaces, make sure they will function well when being used for work activities. Check that your Wi-Fi can support them and that they have adequate technology available.

Communication for Resource Utilization

Having these multi-use spaces or a plan to handle peak utilization won’t do any good if no one knows about them. In addition to a communication plan that eases employees into new ways of work, your change management strategy should also explain how various spaces can be used and what to expect when office traffic is above average. You can also share your usage data with department heads so they understand how they can adjust their team’s work patterns to minimize occurrences of peak utilization.

Find out other ways activity-based working serves your employees. Download our guide to creating an activity-based working strategy in your office.


6 Ways Corporate Real Estate Leaders Can Slash Expenditures

Although companies recognize the value of real estate, those costs are often one of the largest items on the balance sheet. Corporate real estate leaders are tasked with bringing the most value to the company while also controlling costs. Here are some ways you can cut your corporate real estate expenses (and as a bonus, most will also increase your ROI on real estate!):

1. Relinquish your lease or sell a building

Lease or mortgage costs are most likely the biggest corporate real estate costs you incurr, so on paper, this is the easiest way to cut costs.

Of course, in real life, moving—to a smaller space in your current building or to a new building altogether—is not easy. Lease renewals come up and they are renewed, even if the company knows they’re only using 50-60% of the space. To break this cycle, pay attention to your lease termination dates. Your opportunity to make strong business decisions, in most cases, is about 12-18 months from that date.

Using space planning software will help you identify how your space is being used or unused. If it includes utilization functionality, like Serraview’s workspace utilization software, it will also tell you when and how your space is being used. Both can also help you make better plans and decisions faster. With the right software and data, the decision cycle can be streamlined, saving time with the relocation.

Learn about the modern workplace strategies that can revolutionize your organization.

2. Review and renegotiate your lease options

If you decide to stay put, you can still negotiate for better rates or value-adds to your current space. Again, you need to pay attention to your termination dates and start this process early. Read your lease closely to understand all the available options and make sure you have strong understanding of your needs and usage. This is also an opportunity to rethink the utilization metrics you’re tracking.

3. Audit your utilities regularly

You might be surprised to learn how long your HVAC system runs when very few people are in the office. Pay attention to your employees’ patterns and habits—which may change seasonally—and adjust your utilities systems. Depending on the size of your company and your current corporatel real estate expenses, this can translate to six-figure savings or more annually.

4. Reuse and recycle

When you’re redesigning your office layout, look for furniture vendors who purchase used or recycled desks and cubicles for repurposing. You can purchase recycled materials, especially if you need to reconfigure one floor, but are planning a bigger move in the next year.

Using recycled furniture or decreasing your utilities usage can have a bonus benefit of highlighting your sustainable practices. Both employees and clients or customers will appreciate your efforts.

Discover other ways your workspace influences your company culture.

5. Coordinate with other departments

When you cut corporate real estate expenses, be aware of how that might affect other departments. By shrinking your footprint and allowing people to work remotely, you save on your real estate costs while increasing spend in another department, such as IT. If you work together on moves and policy changes, you can find creative ways to save money.

6. Look for potential multi-use spaces

Maybe you know that overall, you’re only using 50-60% of your building, but it seems like the conference rooms are always booked and people are clamoring for more space. Can you instead use the space you have in different ways? Maybe you can make it easier for people to have meetings in the cafeteria or lobby by adding some new furniture.

Add Value by Reducing Corporate Real Estate Expenses

Cutting corporate real estate expenses no longer has to mean sacrificing a nice, well-provisioned office. Slashing expenditures instead can free up funds for offices that function better and make it easier for employees to get their work done.

With space planning technology, you can make better, more informed decisions about your corporate real estate expenses. Find out how.