Optimizing workplace space is a challenge for most businesses. New ways of working, increased mobility and new lease accounting rules (IFRS 16) are only adding to the challenge.

Globally, companies underutilize an average of 30-40% of their office space on a typical working day. The potential for improvement and cost savings is therefore huge. Think rent, energy, and services.

How to monitor workplace space KPIs and benchmark performance

But that’s not all: The real estate 3-30-300 rule of thumb suggests that a company’s typical costs per square foot per year are $3 for utilities, $30 for rent and $300 for payroll. This means that a 1% gain in employee productivity has a far greater financial impact than a rent reduction or increase in energy efficiency of the same percentage. Optimizing workplace effectiveness is therefore key and companies should make it a focus area when defining workplace space KPIs. Let’s look at best practices to achieve this.

Get the basics rights: up-to-date space inventory

The first thing you will need is an accurate, up-to-date inventory of all your spaces. Achieving this may seem like a daunting task, but it has become much easier through the integration of CAD drawings (and increasingly BIM models) into facilities management software (CAFM/IWMS). Advanced space management software transforms drawings into spatial data. As a result, workplace professionals now have quick access to interactive and dynamic floor plans. An additional benefit is that these maps can easily be shared and updated by FM teams – no CAD training or licenses required.

Equally important is that you define and measure space according to a space standard, such as the European standard EN 15221-6. Because without standardization, comparisons are unreliable and benchmarking impossible.

Define workplace space KPIs to drive improvement

Next, you will need to define KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). When looking for the best KPIs, keep in mind your objectives and the degree of agility in your workplace. Traditional workplace space ratios such as gross/usable space, cost/m² or m²/desk can provide a baseline measurement and give you some leverage in contract negotiations, but their usefulness in driving change is limited. Cheaper space may not be easily available after all and squeezing more desks into your existing space could prove counterproductive.

The reality today is that desks are not being used all day, every day, and most people – occasionally or frequently – work from different locations. In this context, replacing dedicated workstations with a mix of shared spaces that workers use as needed (aka ABW: Activity Based  Working) can cut costs much more effectively than squeezing in more assigned desks. In an agile environment, it is important to keep tabs on occupancy and look at the cost of space per person. Employee satisfaction is another key metric to monitor.

Capture data and calculate ratios

Once you know your workplace space KPIs, you can figure out which data you need and how you are going to capture it. To gain the right insights, you will most likely need to collect and correlate data from different sources:

  • Human resources (employee data, survey results)
  • Software (building performance, spatial data, reservations)
  • Sensors and mobile devices (real-time occupancy and comfort data, instant user feedback)

Keeping track of this (big) data on a spreadsheet is virtually impossible. IoT-enabled IWMS allows you to automate:

  • Real-time data capture into a single platform
  • Calculation of ratios (e.g. mean occupancy, peak utilization and frequency of peaks)
  • Visualization on floor plans and dashboards.

Benchmark and improve space performance

To evaluate ratios calculated by the software, reference points are needed. If you manage a large building portfolio, you can do internal benchmarking to detect pain points and opportunities for improvement. Or you could benefit from advisory expertise to help you develop your workplace strategy, define KPIs and provide a more global frame of reference. Keep in mind there is no ‘one size fits all’ and objectives may depend on your:

  • Workplace concept
  • Industry (working style and degree of agility)
  • Types of space (offices or specialized premises)
  • Buildings (new or renovated)

Workplace experts can also help you define a scheduled plan of action and provide support for change management.

MCS Solutions combines advisory expertise, IWMS software and smart technologies to optimize the workplace, for the benefit of the workers and the business. Contact us if you would like to know more.