By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
In many ways, office environments are like their own ecosystems. There’s a natural flow to how things move and change in the space, and the environment tends to grow and change over time. This is a process that can happen on its own without anyone pulling strings. Leave a group of people together for long enough and they’ll develop some sort of system, right? True though that may be, those systems that spring up organically in the workplace aren’t always effective or efficient, and an unplanned, unmanaged office isn’t likely to magically transform into a well-organized oasis of productivity. If you want to really make sure the space allocation of your real estate and space inventory are as productive and functional as possible, you’ll need to make use of a strategic plan with some Space Management and Planning techniques.
Understanding Space Management and Planning
Before you can make use of a space usage strategy with a floor plan, of course, you need to understand what that strategy is and how it can work for you and your departments. Space Management and Planning is a part of Facility Management (FM), which is a professional field that covers everything having to do with the physical premises a business occupies. Facilities Management includes not only office space usage but also industrial and manufacturing spaces, including factories, laboratories, loading docks, retail space, mailrooms, outdoor test facilities, and more. FM can also encompass physical assets such as technology, office supplies, furniture, and manufacturing equipment.
While many industries and offices have dedicated FM staff, some businesses aren’t yet big enough to employ these kinds of professionals’ full time, relying instead on an office manager or human resources staff member to take on FM duties that include Space Management and Planning. Whether the professional carrying out Space Management and Planning duties is an FM specialist or someone else, their focus, while performing these duties, will be on the use of the physical space in the office rather than other elements of FM.
For example, the question of where to seat a specific department within an office space is a Space Management duty. Conceptualizing different seating arrangements and setting them up as potential scenarios would be part of Space Planning. There’s a subtle difference between the two, which is why it’s best to lump them into the same category: Space Management and Planning. This facility management function gives businesses the ability to control how their office environments function from a physical standpoint. While this can seem like a purely practical task at first glance, there’s actually an art to Space Management and Planning that, if performed correctly, can result in major gains in employee satisfaction and, by extension, productivity.
Strategic space management and planning offers a business a certain amount of flexibility and collaboration while improving overall productivity. During the space management and planning process, critical decisions regarding the use, layout, appearance, filing options and standardization should all be considered.
First, determine what the space will be used for. For example, will there be meeting rooms or cubicles? Establishing the space’s primary function is the first step that a business should take concerning space management. The layout should complement the overall use of the space, and this included the functionality of the space regarding the furniture layout.
The design may be something that doesn’t seem important when looking at the overall picture, but studies have shown that a well-designed space can increase productivity and success in the workplace and can boost the employee’s overall mood. A well-designed space also has the ability to adapt and evolve with the occupants, and they will feel comfortable at ease in such an environment.
Filing and record keeping are important aspects of any business, regardless of the filing system that is being used. Some businesses may require a larger area for storage, filing, and supplies. Determine the goal and needs of the business to determine how much space will be needed. Always taking into consideration the future growth of the company and the forecasted needs of the space. Technology and equipment requirements should be considered as well, especially since most companies utilize digital record keeping.
Finally, the business should determine how the space will look. Will they be standard cubicles or furniture that are all matching and cohesive? Should the look and design and the layout of each room remain similar or does each room require a different layout with a distinctive design to establish its use?
The Link Between Employee Satisfaction, Office Environment and Productivity
Why does it matter whether your office environment feels comfortable and inviting for employees? Their job is to show up and get the job done, right? If you’re like most modern business leaders, this line of thinking may sound a little old-fashioned and unwise, and there’s good reason for that. Employee satisfaction is becoming a major part of the way successful companies do business. Concepts of corporate culture and attracting “talent” rather than “human resources” are replacing the old-fashioned one-size-fits-all approach to crafting a workplace. Cubicle farms are being replaced by open, airy workspaces with communal meeting spaces, lounge areas, and ergonomic workstations. While this kind of humanity-focused approach might have sent chills down the spine of 20th-century middle managers, effective organizational leaders in this century know that treating employees as valuable team members is a smart system that reaps incredible rewards.
This isn’t just common sense; multiple studies have shown that office environment and employee satisfaction are linked and that, in turn, employee satisfaction has a dramatic positive impact on productivity. In that sense, a cushy workplace isn’t just a good plan for attracting top talent. It’s a way to ensure that once you have that talent on your team, you get the best possible return on your investment. Space Management and Planning is an essential component in this equation—it’s impossible to know how well your space is working if you don’t actively manage and analyze it. Planning, too, is imperative as it allows FM staff and other management to anticipate employee satisfaction needs and curate the best workspace possible. Ultimately, Space Management and Planning is an effective means of taking control of your workspace and shaping it to fit not only the organization’s needs but also the needs of the employees.
What Employee Satisfaction Means for Growth
Space Management and Planning has an essential role to play in the cultivation of a satisfied, productive workforce. Productive employees lead to better work output, which, in turn, allows your business leadership to strategize new avenues for growth. But that’s just the short-term picture. As your growth efforts pay off, your satisfied employees will stay put and continue to provide loyal service to your organization. They’ll grow from junior-level employees into managers who themselves can bring on a new generation of satisfied talent that continue the cycle and set your business up for long-term expansion and success.
How does Space Management and Planning factor in? Those satisfied employees will only stay happy with their work environment if you can expand in the right ways and in a timely manner. No one likes going from having a cushy workspace to feeling cramped and distracted by an influx of new coworkers. Because Space Management and Planning is not only an anticipatory strategy but also a continuous management process, you’ll be able to avoid making growth seem like a burden to long-time team members. Plus, smart Space Management and Planning helps integrate new employees into the office in a seamless way, so the satisfaction points start racking up from the moment the new hire walks through your doors on his or her first day. Being able to keep all these plates spinning can be tough, but a CAFM program like SpaceIQ makes it easy, resulting in a more satisfied, more productive workforce that drives growth and success like never before.
Key Benefits of Space Management and Planning in a Growth Industry
Employee satisfaction isn’t the only benefit of an effective Space Management and Planning strategy, though it certainly is important. Still, a happy, productive workforce can only take you so far. Satisfied, hardworking employees are a good recipe for growth achievement, but that alone isn’t enough to ensure your FM strategy works in your favor as your business aims for growth or experiences the potential for growing pains. A successful business can make beneficial use of Space Management and Planning in a variety of different ways, all of which will ultimately assist with or even facilitate growth.
Once the sown seeds of growth start to bear fruit, you’ll need to stay on the ball to ensure your office is just as efficient as it ever was. As mentioned above, sudden employee volume increases can cause literal and metaphorical headaches for everyone in the office. If you’re playing your Space Management and Planning cards correctly, though, you’ll have anticipated your growth-related needs, and you will be one step ahead of the need to expand into a larger office or even open satellite offices to accommodate employees from different parts of the world. This kind of expansion opens the door to new types of growth, including international business opportunities that require some local know-how.
If you’re planning to stay put in your current premises but renovate or expand while keeping the business going, Space Management and Planning strategies can make it easier for employees to feel the smallest possible amount of disturbance as work crews do their thing. Power tools aren’t exactly conducive to focus and productivity, but if you’re managing and planning your space in the right ways, you can shuffle teams around to move them away from construction noise and traffic and even plan group retreats on the days when construction will be carried out closest to the main office space.
Before all that work even begins, though, and even after it finishes, you can use Space Management and Planning techniques to allow for spontaneous employee collaboration. This kind of agile workplace strategy is a fantastic way to give your team the time, space, and equipment they need to do their best work. Individual desks, even in an open workspace, can make focused collaboration difficult. Opening up your space and allowing employees to check out conference rooms when they need it is part of the Space Management and Planning approach, and it can have serious beneficial outcomes for your business success and growth potential.
The Benefits of Facilities Management
There are two different types of facility management. These types include in-house facilities management and outsourced facility management. If the business plans to outsource their facility management tasks, they can receive specialized expertise, strategic focus, and even resourcing saving costs. However, the business will have less control over the process and managers will still have to ensure that expectations have been established, and performance, rules, and reporting and payment are established in the beginning so that the business continues to run efficiently.
Facilities management is just one more important aspect of Space management and planning that will help ensure the functionality and efficiency of the environment, the integration of people, systems, and technology and all of the processes involved.
Facilities management covers two critical areas including space and infrastructure, as well as the people and organization. Space and infrastructure include the planning, design, construction, lease, occupancy, maintenance, and cleaning of the organization or business. The people and organization aspect covers accounting, human resources, and even hospitality. Together they represent the built infrastructure and the people that are employed.
Space management and planning combined with facility management can improve communication and sustainability, and can improve real estate and property management, business continuity, leadership and strategy factors, and technology.
In many business environments, the space allocation and needs are likely to change frequently. The moves and layout changes are often overseen by the facilities management department, and they employ a computer aided design in helping them meet the proper needs of the business while complying with requirements that are related to the current office layout including signage, ventilation, and temperature control.
Incorporating Space Management and Planning Strategies into Your Business
The question, then, is how to make Space Management and Planning part of your business approach in a way that makes sense for a modern office environment. One thing is important as you implement a Space Management and Planning program: Look to the future, not the past. In many ways, Space Management and Planning is not a new idea, though this strategy does tend to be part of many modern businesses, particularly those with an agile cultural focus. As part of the Facility Management field, Space Management and Planning have been part of business strategies for decades. Businesses have always needed a way to keep track of their physical assets and plan for a future when their current facilities are no longer large enough to support their workforce and equipment needs.
While it is possible to monitor and maintain this sort of information through analog means such as printed spreadsheets, blueprints, charts and handwritten lists, this is not a very efficient way to use a strategy that’s all about efficiency. These legacy solutions may have been effective in slow-paced offices of the past, but today’s rapidly changing business environment calls for a more adaptable solution. Computer programs are a much better means of tracking data associated with Space Management and Planning, including big-picture space utilization data and micro-scale factors such as how many open seats there currently are for new employees to come in and occupy.
Requirements for Space Management
Regarding space management for business, the future is just as important as the past and present. CAFM (Computer Aided Facility Management) software can help a business set up a reference date to view so that they can analyze the space utilization from any moment in time. The CAFM software sets this reference date as well as an end date and it can help a business gain insight into space usage and vacancies and can help a business determine if certain spaces need to merge or change completely.
In terms of space sharing, a business is seeking efficiency. Therefore, a shared space that is flexible is very common. Shared spaces need good space allocation, and this space allocation can be determined based on the percentage of space that is used which can also allow a business to connect several departments in one space without having to utilize any temporary spaces. Shared space management also allows the business to run detailed utilization analyses, back charge reports, and graphical visualization to ensure that the space database remains consistent.
As businesses grow or downsize, the space they need may change. In this case, scenario planning can help a business determine and analyze different scenarios based on the space they may need. Scenario planning allows a business to validate these scenarios without disrupting the space management processes.
Other Considerations for Space Management and Planning
If a business wants to manage their growth effectively then they will need to ensure that all resources are being used properly and the processes are being used to cover every aspect of the business. These processes include monitoring and management systems to make sure everything is being maintained and remains in working order and a system in which the business can effectively measure their performance data against the processes they are using.
A business should then take the time to discuss any under-utilized spaces that may be vacant. If the business chooses to reduce under-utilized spaces, then they will see an improvement in their bottom line. Why pay for space that isn’t being used? Analytics are important when helping to determine the percentage of under-utilized space and finding a solution to this type of problem.
A business using a spreadsheet for space analysis may be facing more headaches than needed. The Strategic Position and Action Evaluation will help create a business strategy that is appropriate for the business. The Space Metrix management tool is often used to help analyze a company and help in determining a strategy formulation that will work to a company’s competitive position.
Strategic Positioning and Planning
Strategic positioning is involved with space management and planning. Planning applies to all aspects including the economics and finance of a business to their quality management, organizational management, marketing, services, and production.
The business should strategize to determine what the specific goals are so they can proceed with strategic planning, tactical planning, and operational planning that can ultimately lead to the growth of the business. Forecasting will help determine the future needs of the business. Planning takes all external and internal values of the business to forecast future needs, strategize plans for improvement, and manage all production processes and financial resources as the business faces growth and other changes.
Space Inventory Techniques
Space inventory is important to the growth of a business because it provides an accurate database of space information and can be used as a vital decision support tool. Inventory, utilization, and planning are all factors when reflecting on the status of the buildings and the use of the space that is currently available.
To develop a space inventory strategy the business should develop background data about the location including the building and departments. Find the gross area for each floor and other building performance statistics. Document each room in the building, whether individual or shared rooms and then come up with a report based on the analytics of the space inventory that has been taken.
Space allocation standards primary purpose is to establish certain size guidelines concerning assigning the available space within a facility and aids in promoting employee productivity so that the workspace is functional, and efficient, with flexible space allocation options.
Effective space inventory means optimizing the connections that occur between the workers and the space that they occupy and use. Effective use of space inventory can increase productivity and is a critical resource that can increase effectiveness and even time management. When space inventory is maintained, managed, and monitored it is also easy to determine if additional space will be required, or a new construction or renovation is needed to facilitate and support a growing business.
Space Planning and Management Software
Space planning software allows the business to take control of the physical inventory space that is available within a facility. The best way to reduce costs is by ensuring that you are utilizing as much as the space as possible. Any vacancies within the facility should be eliminated and accuracy, visibility, and availability of the space data should be granted to generate reports and floor plans to determine future growth and sustainability.
Space management software offers the business a solution in which they can run reports and track information concerning the available inventory space and occupancy of the facility.
Visual Space Planning
Visual space planning refers to the graphs that are included with the reports so that a facilities manager can assess the current space allocations. These reports also help the facilities manager determine solutions to further optimize the space and improve efficiency.
Visual space planning can also help determine what machines will be needed and where the best location for them would be in order maintain workplace efficiency. The layout of the facility is examined and then the space can be departmentalized. Quantitive and visual aspects of the space inventory are considered when the final space inventory plan is finally finished.
One aspect of visual space planning that should be considered for an office type setting is the location of the printers and other machines that are going to be used on a daily basis. How far do the workers have to travel in order to utilize these machines? How many machines will be needed so there is no wait during higher traffic times of the business day? All these factors, if not taken into proper consideration during the visual space planning phase, can negatively affect workplace morale and productivity.
During the visual space planning process, the future needs and growth of the business should also be considered. Again, the facility should have the ability to adapt and evolve to fit any circumstances without incurring a loss of revenue or work hours due to unforeseen renovations or new construction that must be done.
Strategic Planning and Move Management
Strategic planning and move management enables a facility to move all of their space inventory data to one single system so that is easier to access and provides an effective way to share the information and reports. Strategic planning is also useful in determining the facilities future space inventory needs so that accommodation plans and allocation plans can be generated.
Move management programs can help track, schedule, reserve, and report on the progress of the move and then real time data can be generated to explain how the space is used on a daily basis.
How SpaceIQ Can Help
SpaceIQ offers a user-friendly, modern way to make Space Management and Planning a cost-efficient part of your business strategy. Whether you need help planning and executing a move or you want to find a better way to track your space utilization data, SpaceIQ has the tools you need to make quick work of planning and management at every stage of growth. Our Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) platform offers a range of different tools to help you conceptualize the ideal space utilization setup for your organization.
From our seating scenarios tool to the employee and meeting room finder, SpaceIQ’s powerful Space Management and Planning capabilities make life easier across all management tiers and throughout multiple growth stages. Whether you’re a startup moving out of incubator space into your own offices or an established industry leader looking for the next generation of FM tools to empower growth and keep employees satisfied, SpaceIQ has just what you need. Features such as Slack integration, HTML-only browser capability, and one-click portfolio tracking make our software seamless and easy to use for employees in every department. SpaceIQ can even give employees a feeling of empowerment by plugging them into the system and giving them the ability to check out workspace or even participate in the planning phase of office design. Our Scenario Planning tools give FM professionals the power to share potential seating arrangements and layouts with the entire office so everyone can weigh in on what they think of your Space Planning ideas.
Space Management and Planning is just one facet of what our software can do. Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) is the next-generation solution to the workplace design issues that growing businesses face in the here and now. Give SpaceIQ a try and see how we can help you grow in leaps and bounds with the assistance of some savvy Space Management and Planning strategy.