By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

Every square foot of space a company leases counts against the balance sheet. It’s because of this that utilization and efficiency are such important metrics. Are you using the space you have? Are you using it in the best way possible? There are many different ways to examine space utilization and efficiency, and a stack plan is among the best. The benefits of stack planning allow you to see space at a macro level, to get a real feel for how it’s allocated and used.

The ability to pull up a stack plan and see space throughout facilities at a glance is hugely helpful for facility planning and management. It’s an instant answer to understanding building makeup, as well as allocation by department or personnel. From portfolio management to day-to-day facilities oversight, stack planning is valuable.

What is stack planning?

What exactly is stack planning? It contextualizes space at a high level. It typically shows space allocation by macro variables: location, department, floor, etc. Facility managers can see, at a glance, how much space is allocated to X, Y, and Z. It’s a great way to gauge parts of a whole.

While stack planning doesn’t necessarily account for every individual seat, it instead shows the makeup of an office to promote higher-level decision making. For example, it might not matter what type of desks Marketing uses from a cost standpoint—what matters is that Marketing occupied 22% of all office space. These types of insights are particularly important for lease administration, portfolio management, and higher-level facility management.

What are the benefits of stack planning?

You don’t need to look too hard to see the benefits of implementing stack planning. From a facility perspective, it’s useful for seeing space allocation at a glance. From a portfolio standpoint, it contextualizes space at the company level. Take a look at the prime benefits of stack planning and its role in understanding space:

  1. Holistic facility view. Stack planning is a top-down view of space in facilities, which means it provides the broadest, most holistic representation. The ability to see space breakdowns by building, by floor, and by department makes it easy to understand facility makeup. If 60% of space at Building A is committed to sales, compared to an average of 40% across your other facilities, it may provide insights into the success or setback of this location vs. others. A top-down view of space offers quick context for broader questions.
  2. Departmental stats. Stack plans put departmental space into perspective. How many of the 100 allocated seats is Sales using? What percentage of total available seats does Marketing occupy? Department-level statistics show where, specifically, space occupancy and utilization pan out within your facilities. It’s a great way to contextualize the space as part of a larger whole.
  3. Macro insights. Stack plans are invaluable for portfolio-level management of properties. They provide macro insights at a glance that bring context to facilities and broader business operations. 70% of the product development workforce is at the Sacramento, CA facility. Total space allocation for Sales across all properties is 39%. Insights like these inform greater opportunities and decisions across the company’s portfolio. Stack planning makes them readily available without drilling down into more nuanced figures.
  4. Contextual allocation. The context offered by stack plans makes them an important tool in orchestrating workspaces. Is it conducive for Marketing to occupy 10% of the third floor and 15% of the fifth floor? If IT and Product Development work together regularly, how can you rearrange space to put these departments together on the same floor? Seeing space in the stack plan opens the door to configuring space more efficiently.
  5. Forecasting opportunities. Over time, stack plans make a great reference roadmap. If Marketing occupied 24 seats in 2018, 26 seats in 2019, and 28 seats in 2020, it’s reasonable to expect you’ll need a pair of seats in the year ahead. Likewise, if a company has begun the shift to flex work, you might see incremental decreases in space utilization by department. These changes over time provide valuable insight into lease administration and facility costing.

Stack planning is one of many useful tools in allocating and overseeing space in facilities. It’s a macro tool, which makes it great for broad insights and surface data about the who, what, where, why, and how of space.

See space in context, to better plan occupancy

The contact that a stack plan offers is invaluable in looking at space from a top-down level. It’s about knowing the number of workstations dedicated to a department or seeing the ratio of one space type to another. The stack plan can shed light on which people or departments have more intense space needs vs. which segments of the business use less or demand less. Above all, it’s a gateway to optimizing space utilization and efficiency.

At a time when the workplace is changing, stack planning becomes a valuable asset in planning for better building occupancy. It’s a tool every company should refer to when understanding the space they have and the changing demands of it.

Keep reading: A Crash Course in Stack Planning