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Make Every Space Count with Space Management Software

By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
SpaceIQ

What is space management? And why is it important? Space management and utilization is a concept that should be on every organizational leader’s mind. With rent and real estate prices skyrocketing in desirable cities, there’s never been a better time to figure out whether you’re using all the square footage you’re paying for to the best of its abilities. Even if you don’t operate in an expensive region, unused office space represents a massive point of waste that can easily be resolved when you use facility management software. Learn more about common areas of underutilization in office spaces and see what a smart workplace management software platform like SpaceIQ can do for you as you work to make better use of the space you have.

Is Space Management What’s Missing from Your Office?

Empty space is a waste. There may be some circumstances in which the waste is temporary as the available space will be put to use within a defined period of time. But if you have some dead spaces in your office and no plans to add more employees or equipment in the near future, you’re essentially throwing money away every day those spaces go unused.

Some unused offices and spaces are obviously underutilized. Whether it’s an empty private office or a conference room that gets used maybe once or twice a year (and never to its full capacity), these spaces may as well not exist. But they do exist, and you’re paying for them. Identifying these points of underutilization isn’t as much of an issue. The real problem comes from more subtle unused areas. Desks that are occupied only on occasion, conference rooms with motion-detecting lights that seem to have people inside because the lights are always on, reception areas with cozy couches and stacks of magazines that seem vital in theory—these are all spaces that can be deceptively wasteful.

That makes facility management software and facility scheduling software vital to the efficient use of available office space. Subtleties that go unseen are easily detected, recorded and analyzed. You may be surprised by what you find, particularly in these four areas of frequent underutilization.

Private Offices

Getting one’s own office used to be a major hallmark of success at work, but moving up the corporate ladder has different signifiers now than it used to. There may be a few people in an organization who truly need a private office and, in most other cases, the office is a signifier of status. Perhaps that’s why these offices can be so hard to fill. Office equipment manufacturer Herman Miller released a study that revealed private offices remain unoccupied a whopping 77% of the time. What is the use of paying for that square footage if it’s only going to sit empty?

There are so many different reasons why this might be so. The people who are typically considered important enough to merit a private office are usually so high up that they do more than just sit at a desk performing routine tasks. From traveling to conferences to taking advantage of seniority and deciding to work from home or otherwise keeping limited hours in the office, it pays to use space management software to determine who truly uses their private office and who can be satisfied by a desk out on the floor with everyone else. Managers who are particularly engaged with their teams may actually enjoy the change. Herman Miller’s study shows that people actually tend to like working in environments that are more social, having the flexibility to move around. Doing away with private offices for some folks could be a way of introducing mobility to their work lives and allowing for easier collaboration.

Just like disk space management tools that maximize disk space, space management software, also known as facility scheduling software, can ensure space optimization by helping you identify which private offices tend to stay empty the most. The Herman Miller study further indicated that conference room space is rarely used to its full capacity and that smaller collaboration rooms tend to be more popular than large rooms. You could try a strategy of converting some private offices into a meeting or collaborative spaces and using SpaceIQ to track the level of engagement these converted rooms see. If those rooms still remain empty, you may want to consider renting out private offices to solo practitioners or offering those spaces as limited-use private workspaces for employees who need a quiet place to work as they finish an important project. No matter how you try to make use of these private office spaces, A Workplace Management Platform like SpaceIQ will make it easy to determine whether your space utilization solution is actually working out.

Workstations

Individual workstations may be more widely available to a larger percentage of the entire organization, but the fact that these work areas aren’t limited to a select few doesn’t mean their utilization rate tends to be high. In fact, Herman Miller’s study indicates that workstations are occupied only 60% of the time, which is only a 17% improvement on private offices. That makes these spaces well worth watching and analyzing.

If you tend to see a lot of scattering with workstations that are partially occupied, engage with your teams and find out why this is. It could be that there simply aren’t enough team members in a given department to fill out that group’s designated bank of workstations. When this is the case, consolidating existing teams and perhaps reconfiguring the layout of your workstation areas can be helpful in converting those unused workstations into open desks that can be rented out to small companies or startups. You can also take your open desks as a sign that it’s time to reconsider your approach to staffing. With all that space available, why not expand? Ask department heads if they feel they could use some more help. In some cases, underutilization is actually an indication of understaffing. If filling those seats can help defray the cost of the wasted rent you’ve been paying for that space, all the better.

It also pays to take a look at how your employees tend to treat their time in the office. If your organization is one that allows work flexibility for some or all employees, assigned seating may not make sense. Keeping a dedicated desk for a developer who lives two hours away from the office and only comes in for a few hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays doesn’t make much sense. Instead, you can analyze who’s in the office when and make a determination on whether open seating would be a better idea for your organization. Organizations that only offer flexibility for a limited number of employees can either seat the telecommuters separately from everyone else, providing an open-seating workstation area and assigned seating for everyone else or convert to a 100% open arrangement for everyone regardless of flexibility status. Some departments may prefer to sit together but leave one seat open for various team members who may come in on different days.

No matter how you approach the issue, collecting data on which of the workstations in your office are used the most often and which are lonely and waiting to live up to their potential will give you a much better foundation from which to approach the workstation under-utilization issue than simple human observation alone.

Conference and Meeting Rooms

As mentioned above, large conference room spaces are often less important than we tend to think they are. If you aren’t giving large-scale presentations in that room more than once or twice a year, it may be time to rethink how you use that space. First, though, it’s important to collect some data. You may never see people in those rooms, but it could be that teams gather in your large conference room on a regular basis without drawing notice.

You’ll also want to see how many people tend to use these spaces on average. Herman Miller’s study indicated that even when they’re used, fewer people than the full capacity tend to occupy meeting and conference rooms. If the number of people meeting in your largest conference room could easily fit into the smallest with room to spare, some reconfiguring may be in order. Perhaps there’s not enough room to add the workstations you need, but if you move the water cooler and coffee maker into the conference room and turn it into more of a lounge space, you’ll still have a smaller conference room of sufficient space to accommodate everyone who tends to use it. Knowing which spaces are used too much and which aren’t used enough—particularly spaces with a large footprints such as a large conference room—gives you the room to get creative with your space management strategy.

The ability to tell which workstations aren’t getting used in an open seating arrangement can also help you address some employee satisfaction or comfort issues. Perhaps there’s a bank of workstations that are just a little bit too close to the bathroom. It could be that the majority of the people in your offices have tried the standing desk thing and found that they’d rather just sit, leaving your standing desk workstations dramatically underutilized. Pairing the data you collect with a Workplace Management Platform with discussions with or surveys of your employees can help you address the reasons behind under utilization and allow you to create a more comfortable and desirable office environment.

Alternatively, you can use this real estate forecasting information as part of your move management approach. You might have an underutilized conference room in your current space, but if you’re planning a move, there’s no need to make any big changes. However, this can inform your approach to the features your new space should have. No need to pay for another giant space that’s not going to get used.

Break and Reception Spaces

Conventional wisdom holds that an office should have a place for employees to eat their lunches and that there should also be a dedicated space for welcoming guests. However, these spaces may not get used very much and, if you have both an underused employee break space and a reception space that sees guests maybe once or twice a month, you can consider doing away with one or both of these spaces. In fact, if you have underutilized reception areas, break rooms and large conference rooms, you can think about turning the large conference room into a dedicated lounge space in which employees can put their feet up for a minute or guests can sit and wait in comfort without feeling like they’re in a fishbowl.

This may not work for the way you do business and that’s fine. The important thing is that you have the ability to use data as part of your approach to a new space utilization strategy.

Consolidating and Reimagining

Underutilization isn’t always as cut and dry as the categories above imply. There can be little areas here and there that simply don’t justify the money you pay for them. In some cases, it may simply be the cost of doing business, but it’s hard to know exactly how much of that space you have and how much available space you could create without a space management software program to give you an informed high-level view of what’s going on in the space.

One thing to also consider is that the use of lounge-style workspaces is an increasingly common element of the modern workplace. These are often multi-purpose spaces with configurable elements such as movable walls and configurable furniture that can support a variety of work postures. Companies can use these spaces for everything from all-hands meetings to industry presentations. When they’re not in use for group events, these lounge areas serve as causal places employees can sit and work together, eat their lunches or get a quick change of environment as they tease out a complex problem. Going for a multi-purpose approach can flip the issue of underutilization on its head. Consolidate the spaces that are currently unused and make room for a large multipurpose space. If you aren’t using it much, consider opening your doors for non-profits relating to your industry to host educational events or recruitment events for kids. That’s a valuable use of the space even if it isn’t directly contributing to your bottom line.

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Move Management Checklist

By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
SpaceIQ

What does it take to relocate an entire office? Covering every little detail of an office move can seem next to impossible, but the right tools will make move management for facility managers and coordinators simple. This move management checklist provides an important overview of the steps you’ll need to consider and the physical logistics you’ll need to oversee in order to execute a smooth move.

Of course, every organization has different needs and different concerns with any office move, but our checklist covers some of the major points of consideration for any enterprise considering a location change. Whether you’re a startup expanding to your own offices for the first time or an established organization in need of a new headquarters, this checklist will help you get a handle on the scope of your move and the many little things that must be taken care of before you can successfully set up shop in a new office.

Preliminary Move Management Steps: Fact-Finding & Decision Making

At the outset, it’s important to lay a good foundation for the move. Facility managers and coordinators, including high-level management should meet and potentially collaborate with some middle managers to answer some basic questions and identify some important concerns.

  • Develop a high-level process outline: Start by identifying basic goals and a general timeline. What does your organization need from a new space? Do you want to build a new facility, rent a floor of an existing office building or purchase an abandoned warehouse and customize the interior? What’s the ideal square footage? When should you aim to be completely settled into that new space? Consider everything from upcoming product releases to potential schedule delays due to a high tendency toward inclement weather in a particular season.
  • Assemble a winning team: Tap the right people to handle some preliminary fact-finding and keep it close to the vest so unfounded rumors don’t spread through the office like wildfire. Get the right tools on board too—Connect your move management team through SpaceIQ’s move management software and start developing email lists for communication about the move.
  • Analyze the shortcomings of your current space: What is it about your office that makes it difficult for employees to get their work done? Whether it’s insufficient access to electrical outlets or an old-school layout that doesn’t offer enough collaborative space, the things that don’t work now should lay the groundwork for a list of features the new space must have.
  • Determine staffing goals and needs: Businesses that move into a cushy new space often do so because they plan to rapidly expand in the near future, which means that a lot of new faces may come onboard in the near future. When this is the case, it’s important to strategize which departments need the most attention up front and to ensure that each specialized team has enough space in the new office to accommodate incoming employees.
  • Hire a designer: You wouldn’t hire a kindergarten teacher to design your IT infrastructure, so why leave your new office space’s interior design in the hands of a secretary or intern? A designer can help you not only achieve a maximally efficient and comfortable floor plan but also provide insight into durable materials and office upgrades that are standard in the modern workplace. Designers can also help add art and other decorative elements to make the space feel more pleasant and appealing for both employees and visitors, including prospective clients. Space management and office style are both areas that an experienced designer can assist with.
  • Is a move really necessary? Space utilization is an underrated point of consideration. A business that’s happy in its current location but feels pressure to expand due to a cramped feeling in the office could end up making a harmful decision if it ends up moving into a more expensive space. If you don’t have any plans to expand your team any time soon but are feeling like sardines in a can, a utilization analysis will make it easier to determine whether a smarter layout could help your organization feel more comfortable in its current home.

Preparatory Steps: Researching & Laying Groundwork

When you’ve decided that you simply need more space or want to relocate to or build an updated environment to host day-to-day business activities, it’s time to get more specific with your planning.

  • Assess space layout options: Review real estate options or blueprints and come up with a shortlist of finalist candidates. Add floor plans to SpaceIQ and use its Space Planning functions to mock up different furniture layouts and seating arrangements for approval or critique from department heads and other leadership. Use their feedback to further narrow down options.
  • Finalize insurance and provide documentation: Obtain insurance coverage for the new premises. Provide insurance certificate information to landlord or lender if required.
  • Research and get bids from movers: Find reputable moving companies with the fleet and staff capacity to handle a move on a scale that’s appropriate for your needs. Submit requests for proposals (RFP) and review bids. Select a mover and review contracts. Set a firm date and make sure all expectations for fees, services, communication needs and other details are mutually agreed upon.
  • Day-of logistics at both locations: Obtain parking permits, loading dock access, security clearance and any other permissions necessary to allow movers to park trucks and move throughout the building on the day (or days) of the move in both the old and the new location.
  • Vendor management: See which of your current vendor services can be transferred to your new location on the same account. Set a termination date for services that aren’t transferrable and line up new vendors to fill their place in the new location.
  • Inventory management: Take stock of your current furniture, equipment and other supplies, all the way down to the art on the walls. Does any of that stuff belong to your current landlord? Is any of it incompatible with your new office layout concept? Will you need to put anything in storage between move-out and move-in? Take stock of everything, make inventory lists and set specific timelines for new furniture purchases.
  • Draft and refine a move list: Create a move list draft and have it reviewed to be sure nothing’s falling between the cracks. Make sure everything the movers need is detailed on the list and that all the details the moving company needs is outlined in a way that’s acceptable.

Employee Preparation: Keeping Your Team in the Loop & Ready to Work

Whether you’ve kept your team in the dark throughout the whole process or they’ve been involved from the start, some of the important tasks you have to contend with in the run-up to the move deal directly with employee communication.

  • Announcing the move: Conventional wisdom on when to officially announce the move varies, but if you work in a young startup or another organization with a small workforce, it may be difficult or impossible to keep the change a secret. Some organizations choose to wait until a month before the moving date to make the announcement in order to reduce the impact on the team. If the move involves a dramatic change in location to another city or state; however, you’ll want to make the announcement early enough to allow the employees making the move with you to arrange a new living situation, get their kids enrolled in schools and have their own belongings moved.
  • Office layout: Again, your approach to this may vary based on both the size and the culture of your organization, but it’s generally a good idea to show employees some images of the new space as part of the official announcement. This can both get the excitement going and allow individual departments to start discussing seating preferences.
  • Seat assignments: Use SpaceIQ to circulate seating charts and finalize seat assignments. Note that seat assignments can be fraught and it’s certainly a good idea to let department heads or managers take a look at departmental location layouts before the rest of the office starts worrying about whether they’ll be sitting too close to the bathroom or not. Giving individual employees the chance to request a new seat assignment is a good idea as well, though you may not want to let this process continue indefinitely. If your organization is going to assign seats rather than allow employees to seat themselves, departments to work it out on their own or follow an open seating plan, release the assignments with specific instructions for requesting a change and a deadline for both requests and seating chart freezes. This way, each person will have to take responsibility for their assignment according to a specific schedule.
  • Move instructions: Employees should also be supplied with move instructions, including when to turn in security badges for your current premises, when to clear out their desks and how to get onboard in the new office.
  • IT planning: Who will handle logistics such as continuous server operation? Will the IT department need early access to the new office to set up networks and equipment? Make sure there’s a specific plan in place that all applicable employees are aware of and OK with well before moving day.
  • Rules and protocol: Does your new building have a parking attendant with an itchy tow-trigger finger? Are guests expected to sign in at security in the building and again at the reception in your office? Provide your team with a list of both internal and external rules and protocol in the new building. Even if it’s fairly similar or even identical to the rules of your old office, now’s a great time to provide a refresher.
  • Transportation and accessibility: Aside from parking rules and other details that can be covered in an official protocol and policy meeting or email, your team may appreciate getting details on ideal transportation options for the new location, particularly if it’s situated in a completely new area.
  • Packing and unpacking: Who’s going to pack up all your confidential files and expensive tech equipment? Are movers going to take boxes of employees’ desk contents along with other items? Make it clear to your team whether you expect them to participate in packing and whether they should plan to move their personal belongings themselves. You should also know who will be unpacking and setting up all that packed stuff once movers unload their trucks at your new office space. Employees should be clear on this as well.

Completing the Move: Watch Your Planning Play Out, But Stay Engaged

  • Confirm essential office relocation details: Touch base with both your movers and your employees to confirm basic details of the move. Confirm the final move-out date, including the time by which everything must be removed from the old office and the start date in the new office.
  • Take inventory before and after: Even the most honest movers in the world will likely end up misplacing or breaking something at some point in their career. Cross-reference your inventory with your move list before the move and afterward so you can keep track of everything involved in the move, from lamps and boxes of reference books to 3D printers and boxes of server cables.
  • Do a pre- and post-move walkthrough: Take a walk through the new office before movers arrive and take another walk through the old office after the movers have left. Check for anything that’s out of order or whether there are things that either should or shouldn’t be there that aren’t.