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.