By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
SpaceIQ

When a business looks to cut costs, executives study profit and loss statements and budgets to see which line items to reduce or slash entirely. Real estate has routinely been left out of this process because it was looked at as a fixed cost—typically a five- to 10-year commitment. Now, businesses are employing real estate forecasting and analytics to determine how well their workplaces perform—and how their staff’s productivity fares in the current space.

You can attack line-item costs all day long and make a lot of minor improvements. But the real opportunity is reducing the overall footprint by improving total cost per person—your workspace effectiveness. How? Measure internally, benchmark against high-performing peers/competitors, predict trends, and base your strategies on the analytics.

Not Everyone Needs a Seat at the Table

In the past, businesses regularly reviewed cost per seat rather than cost per person. That’s changing. A 2016 study showed that 43% of employed Americans worked remotely at least part of the time—and that number is increasing. Employers don’t need a permanent desk for every member of their team.

It’s easy to see how frequently each desk is used. Some companies use location tracking via an employees-only app or sensors to know who’s working in the office on any given day. Using an app or sensor will also tell you the length of time an employee spends in the office. A quick note: this is not Big Brother at work. Though work time can be tracked, systems are better used to gauge occupancy rate in both the short- and long-terms. Data can show under- and overutilization of office space, and whether it’s time for a move or redesign. Knowing cost per person, per space when your lease expires can show whether to re-sign or find a new location.

Multifunctional Spaces = More Productive Spaces

No two employees work the same way and no two projects require the same type of energy or creativity. Understanding how your employees work helps increase understanding of your space needs. In companies where teams are regularly collaborating on bigger projects, swapping some individual desk space for meeting rooms with whiteboards and projectors may be better use of the space. Similarly, in more creative fields, your team may find it enjoyable to work in a lounge-type space with couches.

It’s Too Cold In Here

Ever sat in an office that required a parka in August? Climate control and electricity are keys to cutting real estate costs. Sensors offer a hands-off approach on how heating, cooling, and electric bills can be better managed. Sensor technology tracks age of HVAC components and their overall efficiency. Information also can help determine if lighting timers are a good investment.

Collect Data the Right Way

Integral to the success of this analysis of the data points mentioned above is how you’re collecting it. Using sensors, apps, and timers might require a larger monetary outlay, but these options also free up time for managers and executives to do more work. Spreadsheets and manual tracking were the norm, but technology now can do the work for you. Consider it a boost to your productivity.