By Devon Maresco
From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Room 202 will be a conference space. It’s closed for cleaning from noon to 1 p.m., then open as a quiet workspace until 5 p.m., with space for three employees with Level II access or above. On paper, this might look like a schedule of workspace availability. In the broader sense, it’s a great illustration of space governance.
Space governance is the act of identifying and managing distinct areas within the workplace to ensure they meet the needs of employees. Most facilities managers engage in this practice regularly, but being cognizant of what you’re doing can inform you on how to do it better. That means creating purposeful spaces and managing them accordingly.
Define and understand your spaces
It’s important to look at your workplace on a scale. You can look at a stack plan and see how many total seats you have across the building, floor, or department; or, you can look at the specific location and dimensions of a space to determine the best uses for it. This gives every identified space full context within facilities and paves the way for space management.
What is space management? Different from space governance, space management involves overseeing the activities that happen within that space. Is it a conference room? Quiet workplace? Hoteling station? Space management dictates the space’s purpose; space governance dictates how it’s used. For example:
- Space management is what determines Room 202 is a conference room
- Space governance is the act of restricting access to Room 202 to Level III employees
This distinction becomes more and more important as workplaces become more dynamic. Like in the example above, when a space serves many purposes, the need for more robust space governance becomes essential. Good governance depends on asking a few important questions.
Who needs space and what do they need it for?
Space management and space governance start with identifying need. It’s impossible to find utility in a space without knowing who will use it and what they’ll use it for. Understanding need is the first part of strategic workspace planning. There are several ways to gauge this need.
From a quantifiable standpoint, facilities managers can look at workplace data to determine which types of workspaces see the most use, by whom, when, and for how long. This provides irrefutable evidence into specific types of workspace demand. The other (less scientific) way of realizing demand for space is to poll employees to learn what their preferences are for certain workspaces.
Imbue the space with purpose and utility
With demand at the forefront of decision-making, companies can engage is space management activities to better-define the purpose of areas in the workplace. This means specifically designating certain spaces for certain activities, with mind for where they’re located and who will use them. This is also where space management and space governance need to intersect.
Look at the total potential for a space. Recognize the many different opportunities the space offers; then, use space governance to dictate how to make the most of its potential. How often will the application of that space change? Who has access? How will you govern it to ensure maximum utilization? The strategy for space governance needs to align with the strategy for space management. Execution needs to match purpose.
Rely on software to actively govern spaces
The secret to effective space governance in today’s agile workplaces is software infrastructure for managing it. Space planning software offers options for both management and governance—for example, the ability to designate a hotel desk, then manage bookings for it. Without a software system that’s as agile as the workplace itself, it becomes difficult to govern spaces in a capacity that makes them accessible.
- Designate hotel desks and manage hotel bookings
- Govern the changeover from one space type to another
- Restrict access to certain spaces through access control
- Link wayfinding software to space governance controls
- Create automations that facilitate seamless space utilization
Software offers so many points of support for agile space governance—from support ticketing to keep spaces viable, to on/off availability for space reservations.
Remember that spaces are dynamic
Space governance used to be about simpler concepts. Now, it’s about managing multiple variables that are always in flux, to provide a space that employees need, when they need it. A workspace might go through multiple transitions in a day, and change its identity with each interaction. It’s up to facility managers to marry traditional space management concepts with new-age space governance techniques, to facilitate a workplace that’s as dynamic as employees need it to be.
Keep reading: Space Planning Software Buyers and Info Guide