The 8 Superpowers You Need for Office Space Management

It’s amazing the kind of super powers people expect from corporate space planners when it comes to office space management. Here are some examples:

  • TELEPATHY so you’ll know if that space champion is telling the truth when they say they have no vacant space.
  • INVISIBILITY to catch sneaky teams leaving coats and coffee cups on vacant desks in an effort to fool you into thinking their space is fully occupied.
  • OMNISCIENCE about who’s moving around without going through official channels.
  • OMNIPRESENCE so you can be anywhere and everywhere simultaneously, capturing occupancy data in dozens of buildings and countless floors of office space.
  • TELESCOPIC VISION to look across multiple floors of a building to find vacant pockets of space.
  • PRECOGNITION so you can predict how your company’s need for space will change over time.
  • TELEKINETIC POWER so you can move a bunch of desks three floors down overnight.
  • PROBABILITY MANIPULATION so you can cause unlikely things to happen (such as 20 vacancies to suddenly materialize when you need them) and likely things to NOT happen (requests for a bunch of new seats right after you consolidated space).

You can probably think of a few more! Bet you never considered putting “superhero” in your job description or on your resume, but in many ways you are.

The point is, office space management is a tough job, and you can’t do it alone. Or to be more accurate, you could do a much better job if you had some help from the people who are actually using the space you’re managing.

Here’s some advice about how to get it.

Get Help With Office Space Management by Knowing How to Sell It

Your business units probably don’t know it yet, but it’s actually in their best interest to take ownership of their occupancy data and to keep it accurate. If you want help from them with collecting data for office space management, it’s your job to demonstrate what’s in it for them.

1. Get your timing right

Like getting so many other things we want, knowing when to ask can significantly increase the likelihood of success. (Case in point: how likely are you to donate to a charity that calls you at 8 am on a Sunday?)

For example, when a building has a major restack coming up, there’s a built-in incentive for business units to give you the occupancy information you need: to make sure everyone in the group is accounted for in the relocation plan. So this is your opportunity to collect not only who sits where, but other information you’ll need for the move: equipment, phones, storage needs and more.

Surprisingly, though, immediately after a move has been completed can also be a good time to ask for the data you need for office space management. This is when you can get people to confirm that your data is correct. Position the request as a way to catch small changes that happened during the move process, so your baseline is correct moving forward. This is a great opportunity for the business units to take advantage of your validated data, so they’ll have their house in order with updated floor plans and who-sits-where readily available.

Related article: 8 Tips for Optimizing Churn Management

2. Aim for top-down buy in

Knowing WHO to ask can be just as important as knowing WHEN to ask. Seek an audience with those who stand to gain the most from what you’re trying to accomplish with your office space management plans: the financial community. Explain the big-picture story about how you use the data you’re collecting, how it drives workplace strategy and ultimately impacts broader company goals. Don’t forget to mention exactly how much cost savings can be realized with the successful completion of your office space management plans.

While it’s always important to talk about cost, remember that company leaders have more than the bottom line on their minds. They are often tasked with moving the corporate culture in a new direction to secure the future of the business, and they’re trying to figure out how to make that happen. Let those leaders know how your office space management initiatives can co-locate teams for better collaboration and provide new types of work spaces that support innovation.

Related article: What Does the Agile Work Environment Look Like?

3. Avoid “set and forget” for property costs

When you’re approaching business unit leaders, be sure to point out the financial incentive of potentially reducing chargeback costs for their space. Collecting and providing the data you need for office space management gives business units the ability to avoid being charged for space they don’t have or no longer need. Encourage them to keep you up to date with more frequent reconciliation as their space usage changes.

4. Make it easy

You need to make it as easy as humanly (even super-humanly!) possible for your business units to keep their occupancy information updated.

Once you have a process established and a baseline of data, all the business units should have to do is confirm the accuracy of your information regularly, ideally once a month. If you keep going back to them time and time again asking for the same raw data, you lose their trust and willingness to participate. If it’s time consuming and cumbersome to enter data in your system, they will never do it reliably. And forget about manual methods of providing data.

Instead, it’s essential to provide an office space management tool that makes things easy for them AND shows off how much useful information you really have. When you have a smart system that’s integrated with your company’s HR data, you’ll automatically have the information about new hires and terminations. When the business units see that, you gain a whole lot of credibility since you can show that you know much more about them than they realized.

5. Give something back

Like any other negotiation, you’ve got to give something for everything you get. When you’re using the right office space management technology, you have a lot to offer the business units in return for their help.

Reports are a great way to gain cooperation. Create reports with floor plans and occupancy overlays that are useful to the business units and include their data, then make them readily available to save them the trouble of producing reports manually.

Another option is to use the data the business units provide to power wayfinding tools that are useful to everyone. Would they benefit from having a mobile app at their fingertips that can help them find a meeting room or a co-worker’s location in seconds? Let them know that this is only possible with the accurate and reliable data they provide.

Get More Help By Implementing the Right Office Space Management Tools

Using the right technology can help as much and even much more than gaining the assistance of your business teams for office space management. You don’t even have to tell anyone that this technology is the source of many of your super powers!

If you’re in the process of trying to evaluate software for office space management, check out this free resource that can help you ensure that you’re covering all the important bases: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


You Should Be Getting More ROI From Your Office Space Planning Tool

Evaluating office space planning tools can be a tricky business. Whether you’re looking at implementing a full-blown IWMS or a more modern cloud-based tool that’s focused on workplace management, there are many options to consider with a wide range of features. And a wide range of price tags. That makes it complicated when you’re trying to build your business case for the purchase.

Or you may be in an even trickier situation: trying to replace an office space planning tool or augment an IWMS that’s not meeting your needs or delivering the promised return. In that case, it can be even harder to get approval and you need to build every benefit you can into your business case. The good news is, today’s best-in-class office space planning tools provide cost-saving benefits that you may not have considered in your ROI calculations. It’s a matter of knowing which features provide the most ROI, and understanding how these features reduce costs so you can build those numbers into your business case.

Office space planning software features that maximize ROI

Quick implementation
Modern office space planning systems built on a SaaS model can be drastically faster to implement than a big, cumbersome IWMS. We’re talking a few months instead of years. If getting the most for your money and getting it fast is important to you, the cloud is the way to go.

Related article: 6 Ways Your IWMS Software Is Failing You

When it comes to speeding implementation, also look for a company that will do the integration with your internal systems. That minimizes the burden on your IT group, which can also reduce complexity and get you going much quicker.

Automated collection of occupancy data
Speaking of integrating with your systems, you want an office space planning tool that pulls employee and company structure data directly from your HR and Finance systems, then provides automation for collecting occupancy data. You’ll get the most cost-saving benefits from a system portal that allows business units to access, update and validate their own occupancy data.

Easy scenario planning
Technology for office space planning needs to be simple, intuitive and engaging. Otherwise, people just don’t use it and you won’t get the value you’re expecting from the tool. Look for a visual user interface that makes it quick and easy to complete tasks and get information. That’s especially important when your business space champions will be using it as well as the property team. Here’s one example: what if you could see a visual representation of a building and its floors, showing the business units and teams occupying each floor? And then create move scenario plans in minutes by dragging and dropping? That interface just saved you days of work.

Integration with multiple sources of utilization data
When your goal is to maximize space usage, you need to use every source of utilization information you have, such as data from badge swipes, sensors, wired and WiFi networks and more. Look for an office space planning tool that pulls in data intelligently from various utilization tracking technologies, allowing you to see how your space is used down to the day, hour or even minute.

Related article: What’s New In Smart Building Technology: Occupancy Sensors

Dashboards, analytics and business intelligence
Everyone has reports, but you need more than a bunch of canned spreadsheet reports to get the best return on your investment in an office space planning system. Visual dashboards and analytics let you drill down to see data at the level of detail you need. For example, get information sliced and diced by geography or by business unit, and even down to the team level. Even better: look for a custom report builder that lets you create the exact reports you want using your own terminology.

If you’re not getting these features with the tools you’re currently looking at, it may be worth rethinking your evaluation criteria. Here’s a resource that can help: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.

How these office space planning features impact your ROI

Occupancy savings
When 50 percent of your workpoints sit vacant on any given day, and each workpoint costs you $10,000 per year, it’s easy to see how optimizing your space can add up to massive savings. Focus on the features that help you get the data to reduce wasted space.

ROI Calculation 1

Time is money
How much money are you wasting when you have to wait a couple of years to reap the benefits of your office space planning tool? And remember that those benefits build year-upon year, so the longer you wait, the more money you waste.

Reduce audit costs
How much does it cost you to do manual audits for collecting occupancy data? Not only is it extremely time consuming (and therefore expensive) but the data you get is not accurate. Teams have been known to “game” the system by leaving coffee cups and other signs of life on vacant desks. Also, people move around more frequently than you can possibly keep up with. That means the information is out of date almost as soon as you’re done. In the end, nobody trusts the data and you just end up arguing over it.

The cost of collecting data is drastically reduced with the right office space planning tool, especially when you get a portal that lets you “crowd-source” your occupancy data from the people who know the space best (the business themselves) and you can pull in data automatically from utilization technology.

Reduce cost of relocations
The cost of manually collecting data for relocations is even higher, since there are so many more details to capture (and the stakes are even higher for getting it wrong). When your office space planning tool automates collection of this data, it not only reduces cost, but also speeds the process and provides for a smoother move experience for your employees.

Minimize asset leasing losses
There’s a fringe benefit to keeping all the equipment data that you collect to prepare for a relocation, including PCs, laptops, tablets, phones and more. Once that information is collected and stored in your office space planning database, you then know where all your key assets are located and who has what, helping you keep your asset leasing and write-off costs under control.

Productivity is a benefit that keeps on giving
When your property team no longer needs to spend so much time collecting and manipulating data, they can use some of that reclaimed time to plan new scenarios that improve space utilization. What could you accomplish if your planning time dropped by 90% to 95%? If you could create a half dozen alternative plans in a few hours? Imagine how much could you save by preventing unplanned leases, and even subleasing space you no longer need.

Reduce dependency on business continuity cold sites
Instead of maintaining expensive, vacant cold sites for disaster recovery purposes, the right office space planning tool can identify where there is existing vacancy within your portfolio that would meet your DR needs.

The most efficient building is the one you no longer need
The most effective way to reduce energy costs and environmental impact is by reducing your real estate footprint.

Energy Savings 1

Looking above and beyond ROI

All that being said, don’t forget to consider the benefits of a modern office space planning tool that are harder to quantify (for your own sake and for your employees’ if not for the business case).

Co-location productivity benefits
With an office space planning tool that makes it easy to do scenario planning, you can quickly visualize where your lines of business are located, and collocate them together to take advantage of business synergies.

Making your job easier and making you look good!
Have you imagined how your career prospects (and even your life!) could change with the right office space planning tool? You can impress your superiors by providing them with professional quality reports, and by pro-actively modeling scenarios that save the company millions. Best of all? You get out from under a pile of spreadsheets and accomplish more in far less time.

Want some help working out your ROI numbers? Call Serraview and we can walk you through our ROI calculator that can help pull it all together.

Download 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


Fast-Track Corporate Space Planning: Technology Can Shorten Your Day

Corporate space planning professionals: are you on the slow track?

If you can’t remember the last time you worked less than a 10 hour day, chances are you’re on the slow track to corporate space planning. Here’s what the slow track looks like:

  • Your property team is overworked and under-staffed.
  • You lack reliable data and a process for managing space requests.
  • Operating in react mode is the best you can do, since you don’t have the data to drive proactive conversations with business units.
  • Your work space utilization is inefficient, resulting in lots of wasted space (which you know from observation but can’t prove without data).
  • You live in fear of those embarrassing situations when you make the wrong call about renewing a lease or consolidating space.
  • You face never-ending pressure to reduce property costs.

Sound familiar? If so, here’s how you can get on the fast track to more effective corporate space planning that saves your company money and helps you get your time back.

How modern technology puts your corporate space planning on the fast track

Implementing new corporate space planning technology might seem daunting, because you suspect it will add MORE time to your already-overburdened schedule. In the past, that was true. But today’s new workplace management technology is faster and easier to get up and running than you might expect. Cloud-based technology requires less IT involvement and can be working in a few months, as opposed to years with older, cumbersome IWMS systems.

BONUS: Today’s workplace management software is also much less expensive than IWMS or even bespoke tools.

Related article: 6 Ways Your IWMS Software is Failing You

Here’s what you stand to gain by going with modern technology:

Modern tools provide corporate space planning value from day one:

  • Immediately begin to identify pockets of unused space to fill a need rather than being forced to add footprint.
  • Create reports identifying the business units sitting on the most under-utilized space.
  • Easily create restack scenarios for aligning business units to increase collaboration and productivity.

You can do better corporate space planning in less time:

  • Constantly juggling piles of spreadsheets is a thing of the past when data is just a few clicks away.
  • With real-time access to who-sits-where information, you can quickly find available space for new hires.
  • Relocation coming up? Skip the exhaustive manual audit process and get business teams to enter their own data in a central corporate space planning database.

Easy access to reliable reports helps you make better strategic decisions:

  • Lease coming up for renewal? Find out for sure if that space meets your future needs or if moving is a better option. Make corporate space planning decisions that won’t come back to bite you!
  • See how space utilization and property costs are trending by geography or by line of business.

You can save your company millions in property costs:

  • Even one small restack project that avoids increasing footprint saves hundreds of thousands of dollars per year at a minimum.
  • Significantly reduce the cost of relocations with more efficient planning and data gathering.
  • You’ll finally have the data to drive a move to agile working, which is where companies can realize the most significant savings (in the multi-millions per year).

BONUS: You look like a corporate space planning rock star!

Which technology features help you get your time back?

Even if you’re just beginning to look into modern software tools for corporate space planning, you may have already discovered that it’s difficult to compare apples to apples. There’s a wide variety of features and capabilities, so it’s important to hone in on the ones that provide the fastest gains in productivity and space optimization results.

Here are some essential features that help you get your time back and your corporate space planning house in order:

SaaS model
Cloud-based software is drastically faster and easier to implement, because your internal technology teams don’t need to buy hardware, install or integrate software, or perform any maintenance.

Graphical design and ease of use
This point seems obvious, but it’s often overlooked: if a tool is cumbersome and difficult to use, no one will use it. That means you won’t get accurate data that you can trust out of the system. Look for intuitive design that enables property teams accomplish corporate space planning tasks quickly, easily and without much training or hand-holding.

Tools to engage your business
This is not a secret: to be truly effective at corporate space planning, you need the business units on your side. The tricky part is figuring out how to accomplish that. Providing tools that are useful for them gives you a lot of leverage. How about the ability for each team to visualize their own space and utilization information? Or wayfinding tools powered by your occupancy data? To get these tools, they will be much more willing to spend a few minutes each month updating their occupancy data.

But how does this save you time? Your lines of business can self-service and see what space they actually have before they come to you to ask for more. Also, you won’t need to waste time defending the accuracy of your data, since the business units have validated it themselves. And imagine how much time you save avoiding those Not manual audits!

Integration with utilization technology
Modern utilization tracking technology helps you get the most useful, real-time occupancy data for corporate space planning. Chances are, your company may have multiple sources of utilization data, including badge swipes, RFID tags, sensors and wired or WiFi networks. Each of these technologies has its benefits and limitations. That’s why it’s essential to choose a software tool that integrates data from multiple sources and provides a true 360 degree view of workplace usage, as well as the tools to act on that information.

Related article: What’s New in Smart Building Technology: Occupancy Sensors

Professional reporting capabilities
Wading through spreadsheets and aggregating data to get the information you need is so yesterday! Look for dashboards, analytics and well-designed visual reports that provide true business intelligence for corporate space planning. You want to be able to slice and dice your data by geography and/or by lines of business, and drill down to the granular level of detail you need. Also, look for a custom report builder so you can tailor reports for your unique needs and your own terminology without having to pay extra.

Ready to shorten your day? Take the next step to smarter corporate space planning.

Learn more about the right way to evaluate workplace management software with this helpful guide to the 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


Property Team: How To Drive Space Utilization Planning Conversations

The need for space utilization planning is no secret to corporate space planners. You know you should be taking steps to proactively manage the use of your property. Taking control and optimizing your space would not only save your company millions, but do wonders for your career prospects as well. Imagine gaining the respect of your business peers and executive leaders when you can drive strategic change throughout your company.

Space Utilization Planning: How’s That Going?

How can your property team be proactive when you’re drowning in spreadsheets and floor plans, and just trying to stay afloat dealing with the constant barrage of space requests from the business? Like many property teams out there, you’re probably so overworked that you are forced to operate in react mode.

Even if you had the time to do space utilization planning, getting the data you need to make decisions is another major hurdle. To come up with scenarios that make more efficient use of your workplace, you need accurate data about who sits where as it stands now. Not only does it take a tremendous amount of time to collect all that information manually, but by the time you’re done people have moved around and the data is already out of date.

Without that data, you are driving blind when trying to do space utilization planning, and you can’t prove to the business what you know from observation: that your space is under-utilized. So you are forced to give in time and time again to those endless demands for more space. So how can you demonstrate the true occupancy story and drive those space utilization planning conversations with your business units?

First Things First: Win Friends and Influence People

You need data to prove your case for space utilization planning. How are you going to get that data without walking the halls with a clipboard and adding to your stacks of spreadsheets?

Here’s a surprisingly effective way to get started: by making friends with the people who know your space the best and making them into your space champions.

Every floor or business team has an executive assistant, personal assistant or other staff member who already knows everyone and where they sit. There’s a good chance this person already has a list or a floor plan on their desk showing where everyone sits. These people should be your new best friends as they can be a wealth of information. They can also be your eyes and ears on the ground to give you a heads up about the upcoming needs of the business. Best of all, they’ll be instrumental in helping you drive any changes that you’re planning.

However, this advice comes with a warning: if you don’t make friends with these people, they’re likely to be your biggest roadblocks for future space utilization planning initiatives. If they don’t trust you to offer value to the business, they won’t cooperate with your requests and your plans. Even worse, they will horde space that could be better utilized.

The question is, how can you get these potential space champions on your side and providing you with the data you need for space utilization planning? The answer lies in providing tools that make it easy and offer them value.

How Technology Can Help Your Space Utilization Planning Efforts

Workplace management tools

As you’re probably well aware, keeping track of people manually is a losing battle. Workplace management software can improve the situation in a hurry. Products with modern, cloud-based technology can be up and running in a few months.

Yet here is what you might not know: you’ll get the most space utilization planning benefits from choosing a software tool that allows your business teams to update and validate their own data. Here’s why:

1. They understand the benefits. Those space champions begin to be motivated to work with you when you give them access to their own data: up-to-date floor plans, staff lists integrated with your corporate directory, the ability to print their own reports and manage their own space requests.
2. You gain an undisputed source of truth. There are no more arguments about data accuracy. Now when you have a conversation with the business about their space usage, they can’t question your data since they validated it themselves.

Utilization tracking technology

After you’ve built your network of space champions, the next step is to look to utilization measurement technologies to augment your data and show where you have the opportunity to do better space utilization planning.

Some examples of utilization measurement technology include badge swipe, network tracking and sensor systems. Armed with the data these systems provide, you can now have a conversation with your business unit not only about their vacancy rates, but also their underutilization of the desks they have assigned to their staff.

Related articles:
What’s New In Smart Building Technology: Occupancy Sensors
The New Workplace Space Utilization Metrics You Need To Know About

Space Utilization Planning Tips That Help You Gain Trust and Drive Change

Once you’ve got the enabling technology in place, here’s how to prioritize your efforts to make the most impact with your space utilization planning.

  1. Train your space champions on your new workplace management system right away. Be sure to explain your process so they understand that you now have the ability to rapidly provide them with new space when needed. When they trust your ability to do this, they are much more likely to hand back space that’s not needed right now.
  2. Further encourage business units to give up space they don’t need by showing them the cost (or even the notional cost) of their vacant space. Especially in a chargeback situation, this information can be a powerful motivator to consolidate and cooperate with your space utilization planning initiatives.
  3. Implement a formal process for your space champions to spend 5 minutes at the start of each month updating their occupancy information. To make it easy for them, create visual reports showing who sits where on a floor plan.
  4. Start your space utilization planning with the low-hanging fruit. Produce a “top 10 offender” report that highlights business units who are sitting on large amounts of vacancy or under-utilized space, and focus your efforts on optimizing these areas.
  5. Finding small pockets of available space is a help, but you can do more with that space by restacking your floor(s) to consolidate all that vacancy into one contiguous area.
  6. Engage with your CFO or Financial Controller community early and often. They are ultimately the audience who will be most interested in your space utilization planning efforts as a way to save on property costs and reduce wasted spend. They also have the ability to provide the executive support you need and put the necessary weight behind your initiative.

Related article: 10 Steps That Drive Better Space Efficiency in the Workplace

To accomplish your space utilization planning goals, it’s essential to choose workplace management software that’s aligned with your needs.

Find out the most important points that you must not neglect in your evaluation process with this practical guide: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


8 Tips for Optimizing Churn Management

What’s more anxiety-provoking than living through a move? If you work in corporate real estate planning relocations, you know the answer: workplace churn management.

When you’re involved in churn management on a daily basis, it can take its toll on your nerves, not to mention your reputation and prospects for growing in your career. There are so many details to manage and so much that can go wrong. Most of your company’s employees have probably lived through a relocation in the past, so they know all too well what can happen: delays, inconvenience, interruption in their work, and even lost possessions. That’s why people dread moving and business teams are not often on your side when you let them know that you’re planning to move them to a new floor or even to a new building.

The good news is, there are proven strategies to minimize problems with moves and optimize your churn management process, making employees happier with the move and increasing their trust in you and your team.

8 Tips for Improving Your Churn Management Results

Here are some tips for improving your churn management and making relocations happen faster, smoother and with less anxiety.

CHURN MANAGEMENT TIP #1: Start With Accurate Data

Have you ever accidentally tried to move a team into a space already occupied by another group? That’s what happens when you don’t have accurate occupancy data before you create your relocation plan. Or when you fail to keep it updated throughout the churn management process.

It’s essential that you know who sits where, what space your business units are currently assigned to, which groups need to sit near each other, and how much vacancy actually exists. Collecting this data manually will always be a flawed process, since it’s so time consuming that the information is outdated even before you finish collecting it. If you’re planning a major move, invest in a space planning tool that allows business units to own and validate their own occupancy data.

Related article: Using Business Intelligence Analytics to Drive Better CRE Decisions

CHURN MANAGEMENT TIP #2: Align Moves With Business Objectives

This churn management tip is the secret to getting business units on your side. Engage them in the process early and often. Ask them about their business objectives and plans: you’ll want to know if they are planning a major restructure or significant addition or reduction in staff. And work with them to schedule the move around any critical projects or deadlines they are facing. Assign client relationship managers from your team to work with business unit stakeholders to make sure everyone’s needs are met.

When you’re having these conversations with business stakeholders, use your data to take emotion out of the equation. When you can convincingly show how much vacancy actually exists, the LOB’s real space requirements, and how much the company stands to save with your plan, you’ll have a much easier time getting everyone on board.

Also, don’t forget to sell your business units on why the move is good for them: better facilities, amenities, locations, and opportunities to consolidate the team or sit near a team they work with closely. And how about the chance to reduce their chargeback cost if you are consolidating space?

CHURN MANAGEMENT TIP #3: Automate Communication To Ease Anxiety

Getting business stakeholders on your side is challenging enough, but to win over those 500 people who have to move to a new desk or a new building, you need to think bigger. The way to do that is with regular, helpful communication.

People have had bad experiences with moves, so to gain their trust you’ll need to set the expectation that this time will be different. Create a communication plan that details what everyone involved needs to know, and when. Then set up email templates that let different groups know what’s happening every step of the way, what to expect and who to contact with questions and concerns before the move and on Day 1. Make all that communication easier for you by choosing a tool that helps you automate sending emails to different teams.

CHURN MANAGEMENT TIP #4: Tackle Large Moves in Phases

Unless you want a nightmare on your hands, you can’t shut down 5,000 people at once. For a very large move, break the move into phases over a period of days or over several weekends.

Before taking on a significant move project like this, it’s essential to have the right space planning tool in place. When you have easy access to accurate data and up-to-date floor plans, you’ll be able to visualize the change at every stage of your move to assess the status and make any needed adjustments to the next phase of your churn management plan.

CHURN MANAGEMENT TIP #5: Freeze Small Moves Before the Big Move

It’s enormously helpful to draw a line in the sand after which you won’t implement any more churn in advance of the big move. This gives you a better chance of having all your data accurate on move day. However, it may be unrealistic to expect NO changes in that timeframe, so keep your ear to the ground and make sure any changes that DO happen are documented and your data updated.

CHURN MANAGEMENT TIP #6: Create a Detailed Logistics Plan

As far in advance as possible, create a detailed move schedule showing dependencies and sequence of move activities. Make sure everyone involved knows important milestones, such as:

  • Move-freeze date
  • When packing will be complete

Churn management happens more smoothly when everyone understands the entire picture and can plan their tasks according to the move schedule.

Using the right relocation planning tool can take much of the work out of creating & updating these detailed plans, and can even provide detailed floor plans for reference by both internal teams and outsourced service providers.

CHURN MANAGEMENT TIP #7: Early IT Involvement

Enlist the support of your IT group on the move planning team from the beginning to avoid expensive problems on move day. Make sure they are ready to manage changes to mainframe printers, telephony, call routing and diversions, system availability, firewall burns and domain availability.

Hundreds of people without network access for even a day costs the company a great deal of money. Not to mention adding to their frustration and destroying their trust in your CRE team.

CHURN MANAGEMENT TIP #8: Plan for Move Day Support

Establish a Real Estate Operations Center (ROC) to handle issues on the day of the move, such as:

  • Logistical questions: How do I move my chair? What to do with carts and boxes?
  • Maintenance: Address any needed repairs that are discovered during and after the move
  • Facilities instructions: How to adjust desk heights or use the tech features in new conference rooms
  • Location: Provide site tours as well as information about nearby amenities such as ATMs and shopping
  • IT issues: Including network access, printers and phones

If you are moving to a new free-address workspace, even more support will be required for employees who are expected to change the way they work every day. Plan training sessions that explain how to use each of the new spaces, as well as wayfinding tools for locating people and work spaces.

The Right Automated Tools Are Essential for Optimizing Churn Management

Workplace management software tools can save you time and headaches in your churn management process. They help you collect and validate your data, engage your business teams, visualize your current block and stack and available space, create relocation scenarios, provide dashboards and reports, and can even provide room availability and wayfinding features for agile work environments.

Yet with such a wide range of features and functionality in different systems, it can be difficult to compare apples to apples.

Here’s a resource that can help you hone in on the essential features that make the difference between a successful implementation and an expensive mistake: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


Workplace Space Utilization Metrics You Need to Know About

Efficient space utilization is critical as today’s workforce is increasingly mobile and working from home or from wherever they need to be. Yet with fewer and fewer people in the office, the costs of corporate real estate are still mounting. Walking through most office buildings, it’s easy to see how much space is wasted: about 3 out of every 5 desks sit empty at any given time.

It’s not surprising that in most companies, the pressure is on to improve space utilization and reduce corporate real estate expenses. But before you can begin optimizing your workplace, you need to fully understand your current utilization. That’s where space utilization metrics can be so useful… or not. If you’re tracking the wrong data, it can’t help you make the best possible use of your space. Or worse, the wrong data can cause you to focus on the wrong areas and away from the low-hanging fruit. The right space utilization metrics can not only drive down the cost of real estate, but even help you drive innovation throughout your company.

Are You Still Using Old Space Utilization Metrics?

In the old days, tracking space utilization metrics meant tracking how much you spent on space: cost per square foot. Unfortunately, this information is not all that useful, since the only thing you can do to improve it is look for cheaper space. That may not be an option for many reasons: less expensive space may not be available where you need to be, you may be in long-term leases, or the cost of relocating may negate the space cost savings.

Another outdated way of approaching space utilization metrics is to track density, or square feet per desk. Once again, there is only one thing you can do with this information: squeeze more desks into your existing space. That means changing fit-outs to use smaller cubicles, smaller offices, and smaller shared spaces such as conference rooms. This approach adds the cost of retrofitting, but doesn’t address the basic problem: people are not using those desks all day, every day anymore. It may even compound the problem since those claustrophobic spaces may encourage more people to work remotely. Even worse, to fit in more cubicles you may need to lose shared spaces that increase employee collaboration and drive innovation.

When you focus on cost per square foot or density for space utilization metrics, you’re missing out on much more effective ways of driving down workplace costs.

The New Space Utilization Metrics

Modern companies have moved to tracking cost per person as a more useful option for space utilization metrics. Measuring the cost of space per person as your key metric provides the necessary data to actually optimize the usage of the space you have, rather than merely swapping out for cheaper space or cramming in more desks.

Taking this approach to space utilization metrics gives you the information you need to move from the old assigned-seating model to an agile work environment. That means transitioning from dedicated workstations for each employee to shared spaces that workers use as needed, which allows you to get rid of wasted space and cut your cost per person nearly in half. What’s more, since you don’t need to cram in so many desks, the agile work environment can be a much more enjoyable and productive environment for your employees.

Related articles:
What Does the Agile Work Environment Look Like?
10 Keys to Success with the Agile Work Environment

More space utilization metrics that drive down cost per person

Within the agile work environment, you’ll want to track these additional space utilization metrics to further improve your cost per person:

Daily Peak Utilization by Space. This metric tracks the maximum number of people coming into a particular space on any given day.

Daily Peak Utilization by Business Unit. This metric tracks the maximum number of people from a specific business unit entering a space on a given day.

Average Peak Utilization. The average peak usage of a space over a specified period of time. This number can tell you if you have enough seats in the space to meet your average demand, especially if you plan for two standard deviations above your average.

Frequency of Peaks. This number tells you how many times you reach your peak utilization over a period of one month. You might find that you reach peak only on days when certain meetings are taking place, but the rest of the month the space is nearly empty. Knowing these space metrics can drive adjustments to assigned ratios and/or alternate plans for peak utilization days.

Target Ratio Per Building or Group. This is the target you’re working toward for the number of people you can accommodate per seat, for a particular building or group. For example, you might have a KPI to accommodate 1.5 people for each seat.

Assigned Ratio Per Building or Group. This is ratio of people assigned to seats in a particular building or group. Many companies begin by assigning 12 people to 10 seats as a starting point when moving to an agile work environment.

Actual Ratio. This is the actual number of people using the seats. You might have only 5 people actually coming in to use 10 desks.

4 Benefits of an Agile Work Environment With Modern Space Utilization Metrics

Moving to an agile work environment and adopting better space utilization metrics is all about making your buildings work better for you and for your employees.

1. More efficient use of space

When you track the more useful space utilization metrics described above to truly understand your space requirements by building and by line of business, you can design an agile work environment that allows your workplace to become more fully utilized. When you take a walk through the building, you will no longer find a sea of empty desks.

2. Virtually eliminate move costs

In a traditional assigned seating model, as much as 14 percent of your real estate budget is spent on moving people around. When every person is attached to a desk they barely use, a great deal of money is spent unnecessarily to accommodate business requests for more space every time they increase head count. In an agile work environment managed with the right space utilization metrics, these costs are greatly reduced, since people can largely move themselves.

3. Encourage collaboration and innovation

The agile work environment will often have activity-based working spaces that are designed for the type of work an employee needs to do on a given day. For example:

  • open and comfortable areas for group work sessions
  • small conference rooms for team meetings
  • video conference rooms for meetings with people from different regions
  • isolated quiet areas
  • “phone booths” for people making calls

These spaces boost efficiency and productivity since employees can choose the space the need depending on the task they need to complete. People can also choose where to work based on the people or teams they need nearby. These features increase interaction and collaboration, and foster creative thinking and innovation.

4. Attract and retain talent

In many industries and regions of the world, corporations are struggling to attract top talent and retain the employees they need to be competitive. Offering the modern and comfortable features of an agile work environment (managed by the right space utilization metrics) can be a valuable perk that leads top candidates to choose to work for you.

Gaining the benefits of an agile work environment depends on your ability to track the right space utilization metrics.

To learn more about the technology you need to get started, get your copy of this helpful guide to Measuring Workplace Utilization.


10 Steps That Drive Better Space Efficiency in the Workplace

You know your work spaces are not used efficiently. Many desks sit empty, conference rooms designed for 10 are mostly used by groups of 3 or 4, and meeting spaces with expensive video conferencing equipment are being used for traditional face-to-face work sessions. With so much waste combined with pressure to reduce property costs, many workplace teams are looking for strategies to take control of space efficiency in the workplace and make the best use of space.

You have probably heard about workplace management tools that can help you improve efficiency in the workplace. Yet implementing these sophisticated new technologies might seem overwhelming if your workplace team is currently managing things with manual audits and spreadsheets. The good news is, you don’t have to sprint out of the gate and you don’t have to do everything all at once.

10 Steps to Space Optimization and Efficiency in the Workplace

We all know “big bang” projects are hard to get right and often fail. By choosing a phased (or agile) approach, you are much more likely to succeed. You’ll see results faster, gain the confidence of your business, and also have the opportunity to get their feedback and bring everyone along for the ride.

Here are 10 steps that you can take on at a pace that’s comfortable and realistic for your organization. With each one, you’ll move closer to optimizing your space and achieving maximum efficiency in the workplace.

1. Start with the basics

Workplace data is the key enabler to driving efficiency in the workplace. That means the best place to start is by gathering the fundamental data you’ll need in order to improve the way you’re managing your workspace:

  • Current floor plans. Floor plans allow you to visualize your space, and provide the foundation for layering further information on top. Your floor plans should ideally be in AutoCAD format, be well polylined and clearly labeled.
  • Cost centers and organization hierarchy. With accurate information about your organization’s structure, you can relate workplace data back to each business unit. Normally this data will come from a finance system such as SAP, Oracle Financials or Workday.
  • Personnel data. To get the best understanding of workplace occupancy and efficiency in the workplace, you’ll need information about all company personnel, including both employees and contractors. This data comes from your HR database or Active Directory (which often also includes contractors too).

2. Overlay space allocations to support charge-back

Space allocations allow you to report on the demand for and usage of space by line of business. They also allow you to charge each business unit for the amount of space they’ve asked for, providing them with a financial incentive to work with you to optimize their own space usage. Charge-back is one of the strongest levers you’ll have to motivate your business units to do the right thing and work towards space efficiency in the workplace.

Even if you don’t have support to deploy a charge-back model within your organization, simply reporting on the cost of space by business unit (a notional chargeback) can often be enough to encourage the right behavior.

3. Deploy a business unit portal to engage your teams

To drive efficiency in the workplace, first you’ll need to convince your business units that change is not only possible, but desirable for them as well as for you. To convince them, you’ll need to gain their trust. How? By providing transparency to your data. When you implement a business unit portal that allow business units to access their own workplace data, there are benefits for both sides:

  • Key business unit representatives have a quick and easy way to visualize the space they have and check who is sitting where
  • Teams can easily provide updates when their space utilization changes
  • Business units can also provide workplace teams with information about their future plans and anticipated demand for space

4. Foster a community of space champions

Once you have a business unit portal in place, the next step to efficiency in the workplace is to find, engage and train space champions throughout your business. Start with your executive and personal assistants, who typically have responsibilities for managing space on behalf of their teams.

You’ll probably find that they have their own ad-hoc spreadsheets and floor plans to keep track of their area and personnel. If so, they will love the business unit portal, because you’re now giving them a system that’s tied into your database and enterprise systems. Easy access to accurate information makes their job easier and allows them to produce professional-looking reports.

Your space champions will also be able to self-service and improve their own efficiency in the workplace: see how much space they have, work out when they need to request more space, and have confidence that real estate will be able to support their growth plans when needed.

5. Get support from the top for driving efficiency in the workplace

Your CFO community is in the best position to drive your business units to get on board with your space management and optimization program. So how do you get the CFO community not only on your side but motivated to drive your initiatives for efficiency in the workplace? Start providing them with monthly reports on space utilization that show how much money is being wasted on space that’s not used. Given the cost of real estate, those numbers never fail to make an impression. Make it clear that every dollar you save goes directly to the company’s profit, and before you know it you’ll have a much easier time getting your processes implemented.

6. Implement a formal space validation process

Your reports and analysis is only as good as the data that goes into them. A formal space validation program, where your space champions confirm their occupancy information on a monthly basis, will give you (and those who read your reports) the confidence that your data is current and a reliable basis for driving efficiency in the workplace.

Validation also prevents arguments with your business units about data accuracy; they can’t deny the accuracy of your data when they gave it to you!

7. Use scenario planning to right-size and align business units

At this point, you’re ready to start using scenario planning tools to quickly see (and showcase) possibilities for improving efficiency in the workplace. With the right tool, you can quickly right-size your space allocations based on occupancy data, utilization data or even target occupancy ratios. At the same time, you can move groups around to take advantage of business synergies and adjacencies. With the latest user-friendly tools, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can develop multiple plans to give your business units options and test different cost-scenarios.

8. Improve the experience and the cost of relocation

Improving the relocation process is another significant opportunity to increase efficiency in the workplace and ease employees’ anxiety about moving at the same time. You’re probably intimately familiar with the inefficiencies of the manual move process: multiple move champions collecting data in spreadsheets, collating all that data, and then throwing it all away once the move is done.

Can you imagine what happens to the time it takes to complete a move (not to mention the cost) when everyone can collect the required information in an online database?

  • No more 60-column spreadsheets to collate
  • Identify exceptions that could prohibit or delay moves and mitigate the problem in advance
  • Reuse the same data instead of collecting it again for every move
  • Quickly and easily communicate with those who are moving to keep them in the loop and provide helpful information

9. Drive Further Savings with Space Utilization Data

Now that you’ve developed the trust of your business units and shown you can deliver results, you’re in a position to drive towards an even higher level of efficiency in the workplace by overlaying space utilization data.

It’s time to explore implementing sensors and other utilization measurement technologies that capture actual usage of your workspace. That data helps you better understand how much space each business unit actually needs. Then you can use your scenario planning tools to showcase what-could-be, making it easier to get approval for changes that further improve space efficiency in the workplace.

To learn more about the different types of utilization measurement technologies and get advice about how to collect the right data for your needs, read our informative guide to Measuring Workplace Utilization.

10. Consider transitioning to free address space

At this stage, you’ve made many improvements to efficiency in the workplace. Yet there is still one outstanding issue. The increasing mobility of the workforce means few people sit at their desks all day anymore. They are traveling, working remotely, working with groups in a conference room. That means you still have a great deal of wasted desk space.

Further improving efficiency in the workplace means moving to an agile work environment, or free address space based on a non-assigned seating model. It means transitioning from dedicated workstations for each employee to shared spaces that workers use as needed. This model allows more people to share the same space without waste, reducing your overall footprint, and bringing down your real estate cost per employee.

Once you have completed the other steps in this plan to improve efficiency in the workplace, you’ll be in a great position to champion a move to agile working. With fact-based reporting to support your recommendations, you can take emotion out of the decision-making process. You’ll have the data you need to build the business case, and the trust of your management and lines of business, so you can convince them that the move is possible and achievable.

To learn more about the agile work environment, read these related posts:

The right workplace management software makes a world of difference in driving better space efficiency in the workplace.

If you’re evaluating tools for the first time, jump-start your research with this helpful guide: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


Top 3 Challenges of Moving to an Agile Work Environment

In the first two installments in our series about the agile work environment, we gave you a sneak peek into some exciting new spaces in Australia and the US and addressed how organizations benefit from this new way of working. Then we looked at how to tell if your organization is ready for an agile work environment, and some essential strategies to making the move successful. In case you missed the first two articles, see:

This week, we will address some of the common challenges that companies face when making the move to an agile work environment, as well as tips for overcoming those hurdles to ensure you achieve your goals.

Moving to an Agile Work Environment: 3 Challenges & Strategies

1. Easing Employees’ Anxiety and Resistance

There is no denying the fact that moving your organization to an agile work environment from a traditional fixed-seating office model requires a cultural change on a massive scale. You are asking your employees who will work in the new space to change their ingrained daily habits and give up the comfort zone of their personal work space. It’s no surprise that people are going to be concerned about losing their private offices and even where they will keep their personal items.

What your employees don’t realize yet is everything they stand to gain from an agile work environment. And it’s your job not only to give them more than you take away (see challenge #2), but also to communicate that information effectively. Ideally, that can involve a bit of show-and-tell to drive the point home.


Engage early and often. Don’t treat the plans for the new agile work environment as top-secret project. Involve employees from every business unit and every function within the organization as early as possible. This strategy not only helps you with gathering team requirements and effective planning, but also allows employees to get excited about cool features they will enjoy in the new setting.

Enlist champions. You know who they are: the people in your organization who always know what’s going on and talk to everyone. They are the ones you need on your side, so ask for their advice and input in the early planning stages. When you win them over by demonstrating the upsides to the agile work environment, you have evangelists who will convince even the most stubborn doubters to at least keep an open mind.

Organize a trial floor. If telling alone fails, you need to show people what they stand to gain. Set up a pilot floor in advance and allow teams to try it out for a couple of weeks. You will be amazed at how quickly people are converted and begin asking when they will get the new space.

Implement technology to discourage “squatters.” That’s a term for people who stake out a desk for the day in an agile work environment, leaving their things and then going off for a full day of meetings without actually using the space. Another issue: people camp out in conference rooms and use them as their new office.

Discourage both of these behaviors with technology that tracks the identity of the person(s) using each space and even if they are actively working on their computers. Hint: check out Serraview Live to see how technology can help.

You should also make sure to include enough private areas for phone calls (sometimes called “phone booths”) to discourage using conference rooms for this purpose.

2. Driving Cultural Change With Good Workplace Design

Dealing with employees’ resistance to losing their desks is challenging enough, but to truly get the most benefit from an agile work environment, you need to think bigger. Make sure you are creating the best environment for a corporate culture that supports innovation. Also, you don’t want to slow people down by impeding their productivity as they adjust to the new environment. That means you need to have accurate data to plan for a productive new environment, and you must educate people about thinking and working differently.


Gather utilization data in advance. At least 6 to 12 months before the move to an agile work environment, implement a space planning and workplace utilization measurement system to get accurate data about how much space is currently being used by each business unit. That information helps you decide on the appropriate ratio of people to desks for each team. For example, support teams with more people in the office might need 1 desk for every to 1.1 people, but sales teams who are on the road might be fine with 1 desk for every 1.5 people.

To learn more about technology for collecting utilization data, read our helpful guide to Measuring Workplace Utilization.

Choosing the right workplace management technology can be a big challenge in itself, since there are so many competing systems that are very different. To learn more about honing in on the most important evaluation criteria, read this informative guide: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.

Design appropriate neighborhoods. In most cases, an agile work environment will consist of neighborhoods (also called “home zones”) designed for each business unit. Gather profiles with the working styles of each team and provide sufficient space for the types of tasks they need to accomplish. Be sure to create secure areas for teams that require privacy, and plan for any teams that need to be separated due to their work functions. Provide sufficient breakout space to support collaboration and project work. Shared spaces can include comfortable couches as well as areas for play and relaxation. Once they learn about these new features of the agile work environment, most employees will happily give up their cubicle and desk.

Don’t forget about storage. Different teams have varying needs for storage in an agile work environment, so gathering this information in advance helps with planning sufficient locker and electronic storage space. During the planning stage is the time to help teams reduce paper storage. Also, decide whether you want storage space near the team’s neighborhood or in a different location to encourage mobility.

Make the change easy and seamless. Don’t fuel those anxieties by making it time-consuming or cumbersome for people to find a place to work or to find colleagues. Invest in kiosks and wayfinding systems that make it quick and easy to get to work. Also, don’t require people to reserve desks in advance; that forces people to decide what they will be doing on a given day too far ahead. Especially when you are driving a collaborative culture that promotes innovation, employees need to be able to adjust their daily tasks as needed in an agile work environment without worrying about if they have the right space reserved.

Plan for the future. While you are encouraging your teams to work together on effective strategies for your company’s future, don’t forget to build the same thinking into your plans for the agile work environment. Gather data and work out which teams will grow and consolidate over time, and incorporate that information into your ratios and neighborhood designs.

Educate managers. In the old-school office environment, managers can get into the habit of evaluating employees based on how many hours they spend sitting at their desk. In the agile work environment, it’s necessary to change that way of thinking since managers won’t be able to easily monitor where people are. Instead, teach them to look beyond “presenteeism” and to evaluate people’s productivity and contribution to the team.

3. Managing Impact on Employees’ Health and Safety

In many industries where employers are competing to attract the best new talent, many are differentiating themselves by offering health and well-being programs to employees. Implementing an agile work environment is a perfect opportunity to consider the effect of the workplace on employee health.


Offer furniture that cuts down sitting time. It’s no secret that sitting all day is bad for our health, so give people the option to use sit-to-stand desks or even treadmill desks to stay healthier. Also, providing attractive breakout space encourages people to stand and move around when working in a group, rather than sitting around a conference room table. Another important option in an agile work environment is offering ergonomic furniture that adjusts so that people of different sizes can use it safely and comfortably.

Consider providing healthier food options. Replace soda and candy machines with fresh fruit to give employees a boost of energy without the sugar crash and all those empty calories.

Provide education. Simply installing the new furniture and putting fruit in the kitchen is not enough to make a real impact. Provide employee health education programs that help them make changes in their daily habits that can lead to significant improvements in their health and happiness in the new agile work environment.

Download 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


10 Keys to Success with the Agile Work Environment

In last week’s blog, we took a look at how the agile work environment is being implemented today, and discussed some of the benefits you can realize and challenges you should prepare for.

If you missed last week’s blog, you can read it here: What Does the Agile Work Environment Look Like?

This week, we’ll show you how to tell if your company is well-suited to make the move to an agile work environment and provide some essential strategies for success.

Are you considering moving to an agile work environment?

If you are involved in strategic planning for corporate real estate, the agile work environment is certainly an idea that’s on your radar. It’s been an ongoing topic of conversation at all the industry conferences and events, and it’s no wonder: with as much as 60 percent of corporate office space sitting unused every day, moving to an agile work environment (also called “free address”) can save you a bundle. Companies can expect to cut real estate costs by 20 percent or more.

So how can you tell if your company is a good fit for an agile work environment? Will your employees accept the change? How will it affect productivity and operations? Read on to learn about factors that make it likely that your company can be successful with an agile work environment, situations where an agile work environment might not be the right choice, and tips you need to know to ensure success.

8 signs your company is well-suited for an agile work environment

If many of the following factors accurately describe your company, you’re in a great position to begin the move to an agile work environment:

  1. You have an upcoming lease renewal or move to a new building. This is perfect opportunity to introduce a new way of working that benefits both the company and your employees.
  2. Property costs are too high and you’re looking for ways to reduce cost by supporting more employees in less space, without the capital expense of building smaller and smaller cubicles.
  3. Your c-suite is actively driving a cultural change to a more open, collaborative environment to inspire innovation. A move to an agile work environment is most successful when it is supported from the top.
  4. The competition for talent in your industry demands that you find new ways to attract and support millennials. The cool features of an agile work environment (especially when combined with activity based working) can be the thing that tips the scale in your favor for top candidates.
  5. Your business also demands a constant stream of fresh ideas and creative solutions, which requires the type of collaborative environment that an agile work environment provides.
  6. A large portion of your workforce is consulting or working outside the office. That means vacant desks and wasted space.
  7. You already have a flexible work from home policy. Your employees need an infrastructure that makes it easy for them to work from anywhere.
  8. Much of your workspaces is not utilized consistently: many desks sit empty every day. You have an opportunity for a significant ROI when you invest in an agile work environment.

When an agile work environment might not be right for your company

If these situations exist at your company, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t implement an agile work environment, but you must be aware that you’ll face a bigger challenge in doing so.

You don’t have buy-in from senior management. The c-suite must champion the change to an agile work environment, and ideally live by it themselves. Corporations who have successfully made this change have executives working in an agile work environment along with the rest of the company. This sends a powerful message to employees about management’s commitment to the new way of working. It’s also great for communication between employees at all levels and supports that collaborative culture you’re after.

If you’re not committed to a culture of collaborative working that drives innovation, it’s not as easy to rationalize an agile work environment.

Reluctance or inability to renovate. If your current fit-out is cubicle-based and you’re not able to create more open space and collaborative space (both formal and informal), you may not be ready to make the move, particularly when you want to implement activity based working along with an agile work environment.

10 keys to success with an agile work environment

At Serraview, we have worked with many corporations all over the world to enable them in successfully moving to smart buildings, the agile work environment and activity based working. Here is some advice from the trenches that can help you achieve the ROI and business changes you’re looking for.

1. Start with the right project team. It’s imperative that real estate, HR and technology work together so all the pieces of the puzzle fit together to create a successful outcome with an agile work environment.

2. Recruit champions from all levels and business units who can support the transition and motive their groups to not only accept change but even get excited about it. (TIP: Personal assistants and executive assistants are great people to have on your side, since they interact with staff at many levels.)

3. When needed, bring in external consultants with the right expertise and knowledge of your industry to advise you.

4. Design neighborhoods that take groups with special requirements into account, such as segregating lawyers who require private meeting space and call center staff who are on the phone all day.

5. Determine the right mix of flexible working spaces, private working areas and breakout spaces for collaboration.

6. Don’t be too aggressive with ratios. Most companies start with 1 workpoint for every 1.2 employees using the space. You don’t want people having trouble finding a place to work because all desks are taken.

7. Make sure you have a good wayfinding system in place before the move to an agile work environment so that employees can quickly and easily find the right spot to work and find colleagues. Choose a system that doesn’t force them to book desks in advance or to check into desks; that inhibits their productivity. And don’t make the mistake of developing a bespoke tool that won’t be supported or updated going forward.

8. Choose personal computing technology that supports mobility, such as VDI or lightweight laptops, access to docking stations and large monitors where needed, soft-phone technology and follow-me printing.

9. Be sure to provide adequate storage, typically in the form of electronic lockers. That being said, though, you must also plan and prepare business units to reduce paper. Conduct audits early in the planning stage and determine where records can be discarded or moved to electronic document storage.

10. Get a handle on your current space utilization levels. It’s essential that you do this in the early planning stages of your project. Implement the right utilization data collection technology and workplace management software to provide accurate data to help you make solid plans to move forward with an agile work environment. To learn more about options for collecting utilization data, read our helpful guide to Measuring Workplace Utilization.

Related article: Top 3 Challenges of Moving to an Agile Work Environment

If you are considering a move to an agile work environment, you need a reliable workplace management system. If you have been getting by with manual audits or an antiquated IWMS that doesn’t provide reliable data or real-time space planning, that’s a major handicap.

If you want to learn more about how to evaluate and compare the latest workplace management tools, get your free copy of our informative guide 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


What Does the Agile Work Environment Look Like?

In the corporate workplace community, the agile work environment has become a hot topic of conversation. If you have attended workplace and facilities industry events over the past few years, such as IFMA World WorkplaceCoreNet Global SummitCoRETECH or WORKTECH, you have certainly become aware of the movement. But what exactly does it mean and why are more and more progressive companies moving in that direction?

What is an agile work environment?

Adopting an agile work environment is all about optimizing the use of space by adopting a non-assigned seating model.

It means transitioning from dedicated workstations for each employee to shared spaces that workers use as needed. Considering that as much as 60 percent of traditional office space is unused on any given day, the agile work environment provides the means for an organization to optimize the utilization of workplace and reduce cost, often by as much as 20 percent or more.

Many companies take this idea to the next level by moving to activity based working (ABW) at the same time as they implement the agile work environment. ABW gives people the freedom to choose the type of space they want to work in based upon the type of work they need to do that day. ABW spaces are designed for efficiency, productivity and collaboration. These spaces are conducive to creative thinking and stimulating ideas because they provide comfortable areas for people to interact.

A sneak peek at the agile work environment and ABW in forward-thinking organizations

The implementation of the agile work environment and ABW is growing fast in the US, yet organizations in Australia and New Zealand began the transition several years back and are far ahead of the curve.

To get an idea what the agile work environment with ABW could look like for your company, take a look at these exciting new work spaces currently being used by Commonwealth Bank, ASB Bank, and Atlassian:


7 Lessons From The Move To Commonwealth Bank Place
ASB’s New Building Boasts Flexible Work Spaces

Here are a couple of implementations of the agile work environment and ABW by forward-thinking US companies:


How organizations benefit from this new way of working

It’s no secret that real estate is one of the highest costs faced by corporations, typically second only to the cost of labor. So naturally your ears perk up when you begin hearing how much some of these forward-thinking organizations are saving on real estate cost with the agile work environment. That’s because in the typical corporate office, as much as 60 percent or more of desks sit unused every day. Moving to more flexible shared space allows you to optimize the use of space and accommodate more people in fewer square feet.

Yet there is even more to be gained by moving to an agile work environment than saving money:

Attracting and keeping talented employees. In many industries, there are not enough skilled and talented people to go around. Attracting the best talent has become like a competitive sport. The cool features of the agile work environment with ABW, such as comfortable furniture, collaborative work spaces and recreation areas and can be the thing that tips the scale in your favor for top candidates.

A collaborative culture produces better ideas. When teams are given the space to truly work collaboratively, the spike in creative thinking and innovation can be astounding. If your organization’s idea generation needs a kick-start and you’re looking to build a corporate culture that supports innovation, it may be time to think about the agile work environment and ABW.

Employee satisfaction increases productivity. Here’s another well-known fact: happier employees work harder, are more engaged in their tasks, and produce better results. Even though some people will be resistant to moving to shared workspaces initially, in the end they are happier in an agile work environment. After all, they’re only losing a desk and they gain so much more: spaces that are better suited for the work they do, a more social environment where they can connect with others, not to mention cool lounges, recreation areas and kitchens.

Anticipate some challenges

It’s a fact: moving to an agile work environment is a massive cultural change for an organization. That’s exciting, but it does present certain challenges. You are asking people to change their ingrained habits. You should expect to encounter resistance from some employees who need privacy for their work, those who feel that their status is undermined by losing their corner office, and even questions about where they will keep their personal items.

The good news is, there are proven strategies that can go a long way toward easing the transition and making your employees not only advocates, but champions for this new way of working.

One general principle to keep in mind is that you must enable rather than inhibit your employees in doing their jobs. Marcelo Romano, Director of Real Estate and Site Development at CoreTech 2015 noted: “Our business depends upon the continuation of Moore’s Law. The worst thing we can do is inhibit that with poor real estate decisions.”

One way to make it seamless and easy for employees to get their work done in an agile work environment is to reinvest your savings from optimization in building a better work environment. Retrofit your buildings with ABW furniture and fittings that support collaboration.

Related articles:
10 Keys to Success with the Agile Work Environment
Top 3 Challenges of Moving to an Agile Work Environment

Technology helps you get the most from an agile work environment

When you make any large corporate investment, you want to do everything you can to get the most bang for your buck, and also to realize that ROI as quickly as possible. When it comes to moving to an agile work environment, that means taking advantage of the latest technology to measure utilization of space and help you manage and optimize how people use your workplace. Utilization data is also essential for providing location services (often called wayfinding tools) that make it simple for people to find a space to work and to find where colleagues are working.

Here are some that you need to know about when planning a new agile work environment:

Badge swipe data

Badge or card swipes allow you to collect utilization information from data captured by the security system that grants access to a building and sometimes a floor. This is often the simplest way to begin tracking utilization data since the technology is already in place. Marrying this data with other workplace information will produce a good understanding of utilization at higher levels.

Sensor technology

Manual audits are a thing of the past: time consuming, expensive, and prone to human error. Today’s forward-thinking companies are turning to sensor technology that captures space utilization data at various levels of precision for the agile work environment.

Low energy Bluetooth (such as iBeacon): These solutions use existing smart phone technology to provide much more accurate indoor positioning than traditional Wi-Fi. This technology can capture utilization across a space and improve the reliability of location services information.

Lighting sensors: Smart lighting is quite popular for both new buildings and renovations, because it helps reduce environmental impact and save money on power. The lights have motion sensors that detect occupancy and control the lights throughout the day. Often the solutions have a back end that can collect utilization data.

Desk sensors: Tracking utilization using sensors installed in each space (desk, room, breakout space, etc.) provides precise results at an anonymous level. A deeper understanding of how teams are working can be achieved by pairing the utilization data with allocation data.

For more information about technology used to collect utilization data, get your copy of this informative guide to Measuring Workplace Utilization.

Workplace management software

Even before you begin the process of moving to an agile work environment, implementing workplace management software helps you earn the trust of your business units and also helps you gather the data you need to make the move. Having accurate data also allows you to build a compelling business case for transitioning to an agile work environment.

The right workplace management tool gives you access to all of your workplace data in one place, and makes it simple for your workplace team to manage. Look for these important features that support not only the workplace team but also employees in the agile work environment:

  • Easy-to-use interactive wayfinding on touch screen kiosks and on employees’ mobile devices
  • Streamlined data collection and communication for stress-free management of the move to a new environment
  • Integration with many sources of occupancy tracking data
  • Analytics including visual dashboards, interactive charts, and floor plans that make it easy to monitor and analyze your workplace utilization

Here is the difficult part: the workplace management software solutions on the market differ significantly in their scope, design, technology, and ease of implementation. These factors can greatly affect the value you can expect to gain from using the tool, as well as how quickly you can realize better space utilization and ultimately millions in cost savings with an agile work environment.

To learn more about the key features of workplace management software that are proven to drive results, get your free copy of our informative guide 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.