By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

One of the clear and present challenges facilities managers face during the COVID-19 pandemic is one of cost management. How can facility management reduce costs at a time when social distancing hampers space utilization? For most companies, the answer lies in space optimization. It’s a concept that’s easier talked about than implemented.

To optimize available space in a way that justifies cost, facilities managers need to explore alternative desking solutions and new forms of workplace management. This means free assigned workstations and agile workspaces, backed by practices like hoteling and shift delegation. At the center of it all is FM software. But these are only the ingredients for smarter facilities management. Here are a few concepts workplace managers can execute to reduce cost without putting drag on employees.

Consider cost of ownership for each workspace

Social distancing has thrown many workspaces into disarray. To reduce the cost of managing and maintaining space, understand exactly what that space costs to operate. What is the raw cost per square footage? What is the cost per head in your office? Calculate these new figures for context on workplace costs and the opportunities that exist to reduce them.

For example, you might realize that your 10-person conference room now costs more to operate as a six-person conference room. Would changing it to a six-person hoteling area justify the cost of ownership? Likewise, you might recognize the potential for a completely free assigned workplace as the means to accommodate fewer in-house workers, instead of wasting cost on static space that would otherwise go unused. It’s only possible to understand these options in the context of total cost of ownership for each space.

Adopt and adapt to free assign and flex spaces

Social distancing is quickly heralding the death of static office workspaces. The reason? Traditional desking is a 1:1 ratio, limiting the capabilities of a given workspace. A space with independent desking can’t conform to the needs of a group, for example, which limits the type of work employees can do in that space. As social distancing further limits occupancy, static workspaces face obsolescence.

Free assign and flex spaces are the future. The ability to transform a space to meet the needs of employees, rather than force them to conform to the space, ushers in more prospects for space utilization. Better utilization over a variety of desking concepts makes these agile workspaces more cost-effective.

Use software to maximize facilities

For a data-driven, quantitative approach to cost reduction, look no further than facility management software. Software allows facilities managers to manage space within the context of need, which goes hand-in-hand with the adoption of free assign and flex workspaces. Use software to gauge metrics like occupancy rate and utilization in the context of cost per head and the new cost of square footage. Then, use these insights to power more cost-effective decisions about how to use and manage space.

Software is also the foundation for cost-saving initiatives related to facilities upkeep. Create recurring tasks for space sanitization. Set up support ticketing to keep workspaces tended and functional. Use daily, weekly, and monthly reports to recognize and address hidden costs. Software illuminates cost reduction opportunities in workplaces emphasizing bottom-line savings during the pandemic.

Create a frictionless experience

Think about every workspace as an incubator for work. The more conducive it is to employees and their needs, the better the ROI. This is why a frictionless workplace experience is so important. The quicker you can get your employees to settle and back to work, the better their productivity is and the higher the ROI of that specific space.

Manage every workspace as an individual incubator and identify obstacles and points of friction that may grate on employees. This is where hoteling comes in handy, as well as wayfinding software that includes real-time occupancy updates. Facilities managers need to flex employees into spaces, accommodate their needs, provide sanitization services, and turn around a workspace fluidly. Address points of friction to generate cost savings via better space management.

Plan long-term, for the new norm

Facilities costs aren’t tied to COVID-19. In fact, there are strong indicators commercial real estate (CRE) is entering an expensive period, which means more companies will need to look at space from a cost standpoint. As they do, the question becomes, “are we justifying the cost of our space?” The answer lies in how well it’s optimized.

Free assign and flex spaces will define the future of workplace management, while hoteling and agile teams set the tone in facilities. Companies that master these concepts today will succeed in the future, as CRE trends blossom and space becomes even more expensive. Reducing facilities management costs today means more opportunities to capitalize on space in the future.

Keep reading: How to choose the best facility management software