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How Data Visualization Can Help You Save on Real Estate Costs

November 19, 2018

Data visualization tools can lead to valuable insights, but they must be used appropriately.

Ian Morely

By Ian Morley

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.

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

Request a demo today.
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