By Reagan Nickl
Customer Success Senior Manager
Every good business measures itself against a variety of important metrics that help management understand improvement opportunities or areas of concern. While data tends to focus on financials or operations (customers, orders, sales, etc.), many successful businesses are leveraging space utilization metrics.
Making the right space management decisions is important for plotting future success. To fuel future growth, companies should measure themselves against the right benchmarks. Here are five space utilization metrics every facility manager (FM) should know:
1. Capacity and occupancy
Capacity and occupancy dictate how many people a space supports and how many people are using it at a given point in time. A collaborative space may have a capacity of 10, but only four people occupying it right now. Tomorrow, eight people might use it. Capacity never changes; occupancy does.
Measuring capacity gives FMs a sense of how many people can feasibly use a workspace at any given time. Looking at the total capacity of all workspaces determines overall workplace capacity, which is useful for other metrics like utilization. Meanwhile, looking at occupancy trends—by the hour, day of the week, or over a longer period of time—shows usage trends. Capacity and occupancy are the core building blocks for most space utilization metrics.
2. Overall/space-specific utilization
Overall office space utilization is a simple equation: Number of employees divided by total workplace capacity. If you have 75 employees in a space designed for 100, you’re utilization is 75%. This metric doesn’t show space efficiency, but does paint a clear picture of the workspace as a whole.
There’s more opportunity to glean information from space-specific metrics. These can include point-in-time trends, peak usage data, areas of underutilization, and workstation occupancy calculations. Understanding total workplace utilization and individual workspace use drives greater efficiency and productivity.
Density is a more granular utilization metric—one that’s useful in looking at departments, floors, and business segments. Density data shows when a group has outgrown its space or when business demands outstrip available workspace types.
Marketing has 20 people. Utilization statistics show their demand for conference rooms is exceedingly high—as many as 14 department members may be in project meetings at any given time. But Marketing only has access to two conference rooms with a total capacity of 10 seats. This is an example of density benchmarking at work. It shows not just demand for space, but demand for specific space by a specific group for a specific purpose.
4. Cost per head/seat
Utilization is more than balancing the number of employees and types of workspaces offered. It’s also about cost control and creating a floor plan that accommodates everyone—without hampering the balance sheet.
Calculating cost per head/seat breaks the fixed lease down to a granular figure that helps FMs understand the cost of housing employees within available space. This data helps project the cost of facility growth, model productivity of a workspace, and highlight inefficiencies in particular desking arrangements. Everything in business comes back to numbers, which makes cost per head an essential utilization metric for quantifying the workplace.
5. Mobility ratios
The workplace is far from static. Accounting for workforce mobility is important in measuring true space utilization. How many remote workers do you have? How many part-time vs. full-time employees are on the payroll? How many visitors do you average on a day or week? These people may not need a desk every day, but they impact utilization.
Measuring the variable demands of a mobile workforce is separate from general utilization and occupancy metrics. Your workplace may have 100 seats and 75 regularly occupied desks (75% utilization), but what about those 25 part-time and remote employees? Can your workplace function at 100% total capacity in the unlikely event that everyone in the office at the same time? Moreover, if you can support 100% capacity, do you really want to?
Factoring in mobility ratios—different groups with variable desking needs—is an important extension in understanding total workplace utilization.
Data tells the whole space utilization story
Good data and space utilization analysis are critical for better decision-making. For FMs and their superiors, these metrics emphasize the workplace’s role and impact on business success. The more utilization data points, the more insights workplace managers can use to improve operations and further business goals.
Keep reading: Six core pillars of office space planning.