What is Hoteling and Should You be Using it?

Non-traditional desking options are on the rise as companies race to maximize workplace potential. Among them is hoteling, a simple concept that’s easy to implement. But hoteling requires a little foresight to maximize its benefits.

Here’s a look at what desk hoteling is, how it maximizes office space potential, and what types of businesses benefit most from it.


12 Benefits of Wayfinding for Campus Environments

Many companies operate on campuses. They have multiple buildings designated for different purposes, with staff fluttering between them. Akin to anthills and beehives, there’s constant activity on corporate campuses, with everyone working hard to get from one destination to the next quickly and without delay. Consider the many people, destinations, buildings, and routes this involves and it’s not difficult to see the benefits of wayfinding.

For seasoned employees, getting from one place to another on a corporate campus might be a breeze. Even still, these experts can still get tripped up attending a meeting in a room they’ve never been to in a building they rarely visit. Now, think about a new employee or a visitor—someone who’s never been outside of an admin building. For these folks, wayfinding is downright essential.

What is wayfinding?

Wayfinding in a corporate setting is the act of providing context for movements within facilities. It could be as simple as numbering rooms or as robust as an app that offers step-by-step directions for guests who’ve never visited the building before. The purpose of wayfinding is to make navigating easy—whether to find a person, place, or specific type of space. On a campus, this type of system is even more important, since navigable space goes far beyond a single floor or building.

12 benefits of wayfinding software on campuses

Not only does it take time for people to traverse campuses to get from one destination to another, there are more routes to use. Moreover, it’s easier to get lost or lose your bearings going from one building to another. The benefits of implementing a wayfinding system on a corporate campus are invaluable in saving time, improving experience, and even bolstering productivity.

  1. Space location and utilization. Marc needs a standing desk. Roselia prefers a quiet workstation. Emile needs a 12-person conference room in Building X. Wayfinding is the quickest way to connect need with space. It’s a direct route to the best available workspace.
  2. Efficient employee movement. Getting lost on a corporate campus can result in lots of wasted time and lost productivity. Employees avoid detours, reduce backtracking, and shave minutes off their route when the quickest path is right in the palm of their hands.
  3. Improved employee confidence. Wayfinding offers a straightforward path to the destination, to give employees confidence while they navigate new or unfamiliar areas of the campus. This is vital for new employees as they get acclimated.
  4. Welcoming to visitors/guests. Guests need to know exactly where they’re going on a campus. A wayfinding solution instantly improves the visitor experience. Guests won’t need to stop and ask for directions or spend time trying to call or text the person they’re meeting.
  5. Easy directory integration. If Lenore needs to meet with Rajesh, she can locate him via the wayfinding directory and get instant directions to his desk. This is particularly useful in flex spaces, where employee location hinges on personal devices or current bookings.
  6. Robust software integration. Need to book a hotel desk en-route to a building? Wayfinding integrations make space accessible on-the-go. Book the space from the wayfinding app and get instant directions to it.
  7. Employee autonomy. On free-assign campuses, it’s important for employees to own a sense of autonomy. Wayfinding gives them that freedom. Whether they want a quiet workspace, somewhere near the cafeteria, or a desk with a view, exploring is simpler.
  8. Increased productivity. Employees spend less time wandering the campus and more time getting settled into their workspace comfortably. There’s also a certain productivity in understanding your bearings—you’re less out of your element when you know exactly where you are.
  9. Better space utilization. Wayfinding opens the door to spaces employees might not know about or think to use. When they know where these spaces are and how to get to them, they’ll use them, which boosts campus-wide space utilization metrics.
  10. Contextualized campuses. Wayfinding puts the campus in context, no matter how large it is. As they navigate around, employees become more familiar with where spaces are, what utilities they’re near, how to use certain spaces, and what the best routes are.
  11. Improved safety. Intelligent wayfinding systems can account for campus construction, on-site hazards, and other obstructions. They’re smart enough to navigate people around the problem, so they get to where they’re going quickly and safely.
  12. Better traffic flow on campus. Every campus has common areas and high traffic thoroughfares. Like a car’s GPS, smart wayfinding can route and re-route people across campus to avoid pile-ups and bottlenecks in well-traveled areas.

Wayfinding on campuses is essential. Even for those who are intimately familiar with the campus environment, the ability to rely on wayfinding software for routing and quick answers is key in helping the campus environment feel smaller and more personal.

Make navigation simpler

Employees will eventually get to the point where they don’t rely on wayfinding. That said, wayfinding is still a tool available to them for specific uses—booking a desk, finding a person, or locating an asset, for example. Whether they use it daily or only as-needed, wayfinding is the backbone of any corporate campus and the ebb and flow of movement throughout it.

Keep reading: The Five Major Pillars of a Wayfinding Program


Healthcare Space Utilization: Caregiving at Capacity

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

The United States’ healthcare system is a $8.45+ trillion industry—and it’s growing larger by the year. As demand creeps higher for everything from dentistry to oncology, more and more facilities are springing up across the country to meet these needs. In major metropolitan areas with larger populations and around-the-clock need, more facilities aren’t necessarily the solution. Better healthcare space utilization in existing facilities is.

The ability to use existing healthcare facilities better unlocks broad potential for meeting need, without the additional (tremendous) cost of building and staffing new buildings. Tapping into the fullest potential of a hospital or other healthcare facility rests heavily on the ability to orchestrate space around sometimes unpredictable demand. That starts with a fundamental understanding of capability and availability.

What is healthcare space utilization?

Space utilization is the concept of maximizing the utility of available space. If a hospital has 30 emergency room beds and the average occupancy of those beds is 15, it has a 50% utilization rate. And while this might sound poor, healthcare space utilization differs significantly from other types of utilization metrics. The reason? Much of hospital space is allocated on a contingency basis. The hospital may not use 30 emergency beds, but it needs 30 emergency beds based on the local census.

Healthcare space utilization goes beyond looking at usage as a static figure. To truly understand utilization takes a mind for all the variables that factor into demand. How many emergency room cases were there last quarter? Last year? Over the past five years? What’s the average time per bed occupied? What percentage of total beds are emergency beds? These factors and dozens more form the basis for space allocation, and also inform the standard for utilization.

While space utilization may be a measure of how often usable space is occupied, it’s also a measure of space efficiency in context. To gauge an accurate measure of both is an ongoing, ever-difficult task for healthcare facility managers.

The benefits of healthcare space utilization

Good utilization in hospitals and healthcare facilities comes down to contextualizing use within the parameters of the ecosystem. Facility administrators who can keep space allocation and utilization balanced help unlock significant benefits for everyone seeking or administering healthcare:

  • Better access to spaces designed to support specific healthcare
  • Specific, purposeful space planning and organization
  • Smoother administration as the result of predictable facility usage
  • Improved comfort and convenience for patients receiving treatment
  • Better clinician support from well-equipped and accessible facilities

Ultimately, moderating space utilization comes down to ensuring facilities are available when they’re needed, to the people giving and receiving treatment. Emergency bed utilization may only be 50%, but that means there are several available to housing incoming critical patients from a multiple vehicle accident, for example. Even in non-emergent situations, utilization matters. You don’t want patients sitting for hours waiting on radiology to x-ray their broken arm—they need attention ASAP, from facilities that aren’t constantly at their limit.

How does healthcare space utilization software help?

The biggest unknown variable affecting healthcare facilities is demand. You never know when someone is going to need care—even with appointment scheduling. Utilization software helps account for this unknown by measuring the known variables, to make figuring out a buffer easier.

For example, if there are 10 beds in the chemotherapy wing, each with a utilization rate of 90%, it’s an indicator that more beds may be necessary. Similarly, if the utilization rate of four ultrasound rooms is only 20%, it may be an opportunity to repurpose one or more of them. Utilization software provides these figures to unlock the potential these insights provide.

It’s also important to consider utilization software from the perspective of tracking and monitoring trends, and aligning them with the business goals of a healthcare facility. Do you really need to build a new hemodialysis treatment center? Or, can you establish this environment in current facilities by consolidating underutilized space in the greater hematology wing? In this way, there are cost and treatment benefits rooted in decision-making, made possible by space utilization software insights.

Orchestrate a superior approach to patient care

Healthcare space utilization isn’t just about making use of facilities to avoid the prospect of building and staffing. Above anything else, it’s about being able to deliver superior patient care and a healing experience for the people relying on those facilities. Anticipating demand isn’t always easy, which means the path to better space utilization starts through space governance.

In the modern era, healthcare space utilization software is becoming a must-have, crucial part of the facility management approach. It allows hospitals to be agile with their space and adaptable to the needs of the census. Moreover, it allows hospitals to understand how efficient they’re being, so they can explore new opportunities to provide better caregiving solutions. The result is better use of existing facilities, which helps avoid adding even more costs to an $8.45+ trillion industry that’s already the ire of many.

Keep reading: Healthcare Space Planning: Facilitate a Healing Environment


Government Space Utilization: Make the Most of Taxpayer Dollars

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Every major city has government facilities that are, by and large, taxpayer funded. From public libraries to police stations, courthouses to the local DMV—these are facilities we’ll all rely on at some point in time. Taxpayer dollars are what keep them well-maintained and functional. So, when questions of government spending arise, facility waste tends to be one of the first focal points in shoring up a budget. Attention turns to government space utilization.

Space utilization in government facilities is a difficult prospect to get a handle on. These facilities exist to support the public, but there’s no telling when and to what degree people will rely on them. You can’t always predict when there will be a run on books at the local library or when everyone will decide to visit the DMV to renew their license. For government facility managers, space utilization is always a prospect in flux.

Thankfully, modern space utilization software is making it easier to not only maximize utilization in government facilities, but to also optimize it for demand. You might not know when someone will show up to get married at city hall, but you can keep facilities agile enough to adapt.

What is government space utilization?

Space utilization is the prospect of maximizing the use of a particular space vs. its availability. If the space is open for eight hours a day, five days a week, that’s 40 hours of availability. If it’s occupied and in-use for 30 of those hours, utilization is 75%. It is a simple concept, but difficult to practice.

Demand isn’t consistent in government facilities. For example, there’s likely to be much more demand for access to the County Clerk in the spring, when more people apply for marriage certificates. If the waiting room only supports six people, you’ll need to allocate more space for those waiting patiently to apply. During the winter months, you might use this overflow space for something else. Optimizing space utilization stems from understanding demand for it.

Government space utilization comes down to efficiency: both operational and monetarily. Are you making the most of available space in government facilities? Or, are taxpayers footing the bill for unused, unneeded, or ungoverned space? Efficiency metrics will tell you.

The benefits of government space utilization

While cost control is the most prominent benefit of good utilization, it’s far from the only one. Government facilities that capitalize on space efficiently position themselves to offer a variety of benefits to employees and visitors including:

  • Better access to spaces designed to support government functions
  • Specific, purposeful space planning and organization
  • Smoother operations as the result of predictable facility usage
  • Improved comfort and convenience for individuals utilizing space
  • Cost-efficient use of space, which results in lower cost to taxpayers

Utilization emphasizes the practicality of space. Instead of letting some types of spaces sit idle while demand for others grows, utilization metrics illustrate need. In government facilities, the relationship to how often spaces see use and the demands of people using them is crucial. If people aren’t using your space, it means government isn’t meeting the needs of constituents – or worse, they’re paying for unnecessary facilities.

A focus on utilization is a focus on maximizing the usefulness of facilities, while that the same time optimizing cost. From a front-facing constituent standpoint, this is exactly what people expect from them.

How does government space utilization software help?

As mentioned, unpredictability is a big obstacle standing in the way of high utilization levels in government facilities. How do you maximize the availability of a space when demand remains uncertain? For a growing number of municipal building managers, space utilization software is the answer.

Utilization software offers the benefit of both real-time and historical insights. Real-time space utilization metrics allow facility managers to pair immediate demand with space designed to support specific activities, capacities, and locations. Historical data produces patterns and trends, to help make unpredictable demand slightly more identifiable. For example:

  • If two attorneys and their clients need space for arbitration at the courthouse, real-time utilization metrics will show what’s available.
  • If a facility manager wants to know how much space to delegate to a town hall meeting, they can look at previous utilization trends to plan accordingly.

Utilization software makes it possible to maximize space in an ongoing capacity. Government facility managers can learn about the demand and use of space, and work to shape facilities around anticipated expectations. The result are facilities that better-accommodate employees and visitors, while minimizing the cost to taxpayers.

Optimize the capabilities of facilities

More and more, government space utilization isn’t about optimizing one space for one purpose—it’s about optimizing many spaces for many purposes. The trick is to maintain the accessibility and convenience of public-facing facilities. To do this takes reliance on government space utilization software.

From post offices to municipal buildings, it’s possible to optimize space based on capability to address need. The building will remain the same destination for different services, but the way it meets public demand for those services may change. Utilization is now a dynamic metric, and it’s growing ever more important in facilities that need to operate with mind for budget control.

Keep reading: Government Space Planning: Make the Most of Public Facilities


How to Design an Office for Space Utilization

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

The workplace is in the throes of another period of upheaval. As work-from-home becomes a mainstay and flex work the new norm for physical workplaces, the office itself needs to change to accommodate employees better. Specifically, facilities managers need to optimize the workplace for usefulness. The question at-hand is how to design an office for space utilization.

A well-utilized workspace means it’s meeting employee demands. To shape the environment around those demands, facility managers need to understand them. This is easier said than done. It’s not enough to look at what did work or what appears to work. Reinventing the office in a major way means relying on clear and present insights that are data-driven and verifiable.

Here’s how to understand workplace utilization and design around it, to shape a new office that supports employees through the current period of change and beyond.

What is space utilization?

Space utilization is best defined in conjunction with space occupancy. If occupancy is the capacity of a space to accommodate certain people or objects, space utilization is a measure of the degree of use within that space.

For example, if a conference room has occupancy for 10 and only eight people are in it right now, it’s at 80% utilization. A more practical example would be utilization over time. If a hotel desk is available 40 hours per week and is only occupied for 20 hours per week, its utilization rate is 50%. There’s also relative utilization to consider. If Conference Rooms A, B, and C are all available 40 hours per week and see utilization rates of 75%, 80%, and 20% respectively, it’s reasonable to say that Conference Room C’s utilization rate is much lower than the average.

The bottom line on space utilization is that it’s a measure of how much use a space gets. It’s often a reflection of demand, which makes it conducive to observe which spaces see high utilization and model the workplace after them accordingly.

The role of space utilization software

Monitoring and measuring utilization are largely functions of software. Most workplaces have different types of spaces: individual desks, breakout spaces, conference rooms, etc. Utilization software will track how often employees occupy these spaces, for how long, and when. The result is a clear picture of utilization trends. Examples include:

  • Conference rooms see the most use on Thursdays and Fridays
  • Three-person breakout spaces are the most popular flex spaces
  • Hotel desk utilization averages 68% utilization week over week
  • The hours of 10am-1pm see the most room booking activity

Data from room booking software, the IoT, and manual inputs come together to paint a picture of the office as an ecosystem. With information about how employees interact with it, facility managers can better-shape it to their needs, wants, and expectations.

Tips for office space design

The golden rule of office space design is to leverage the data you have. Anecdotal evidence alone won’t tell the whole story. You might think there’s strong demand for hot desks because you see people using them, but what you see might only represent a small percentage of demand. In fact, people may prefer a different type of space altogether—one they don’t have access to because there isn’t enough optionality in the office.

Data provides great insight, but it requires critical thinking to make it actionable. Facility managers need to take insights and put them into practice with context. For example, if there’s demand for more breakout space, you can’t plop it in the middle of a hotel desk cluster—you might risk disrupting a desking concept that works. Instead, use a critical eye to assess space availability and deploy new concepts without disrupting ones that work.

Finally, consider micro and macro scale when making changes to the workplace. For large changes, view the stack plan to better-understand available space and occupancy levels. For space-specific changes, understand the effect on the immediate area of the office. There’s ample opportunity to make change at both levels, but you need to know how your changes affect access to the office and how this will impact utilization rates.

Keep utilization at the forefront of a redesign

The old way of designing offices focused primarily on making use of the space available to you. It was about finding the best way fit people within a space, maximize productivity and minimize friction. Now, the approach has changed to a people-first mindset. It’s not about fitting people into space; it’s about conforming space to fit the people who need it.

Designing with utilization in mind means understanding how employees interact with space and what they expect from it. Then, it’s about using data to shape and allocate space based on those needs. It’s a process that’s more and more data-driven as the workplace becomes more intelligent. Facility managers should use all data available to them to understand utilization and make a concerted effort to create space that aligns with how employees will use it—whether they’re in-office full-time, flexing in and out of spaces, or working remote 90% of the time.

Keep reading: 5 Space Utilization Metrics Every FM Needs to Know


Six Space Utilization Features Every Business Needs

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Every business wants their workplace to be a productive one. But how do you know if it is without digging into the data? Specifically, space utilization features and metrics can shine a light on how productive and efficient a workplace is by showing how in demand certain spaces are and how much employees use them. There’s a lot to glean from looking at utilization.

In fact, there are plentiful opportunities for more efficient and productive business operations in workplaces that achieve strong and consistent space utilization. Getting employees to use spaces with regularity and be productive while in those spaces enables broad benefits for everyone. Here’s a look at why space utilization is such an important variable in the success of business operations.

What is space utilization?

Space utilization is the rate at which space serves a productive role for a business. It’s also a measure of efficiency. If space utilization is low, the business is likely wasting cost and squandering productive opportunities. If utilization is high, there’s implied efficiency in the willingness of employees to use that space to productive ends.

Space utilization is best expressed mathematically. At the building level, it’s occupancy divided by capacity. If there’s 200 people in a building that accommodates up to 275 people, the utilization rate is roughly 72%. At the workspace level, utilization is the number of occupied hours divided by total available hours. If a desk is occupied an average of eight hours a day out of an available 10 hours, it has an 80% utilization rate.

The metrics of utilization get increasingly complex depending on how you look at them. Utilization isn’t a static percentage in agile offices, and there are different types of utilization to consider. What matters is a high utilization rate using the metrics that best-apply to your workspace.

How to identify utilization rates

The simplest way to identify and understand utilization rates is to rely on space utilization software. Dashboards make it easy to aggregate inflows of data and identify trends that signal high or low utilization rates. For example, if the four standing desks in your workplace have an 85% utilization rate against four phone booth pods with a utilization rate of 35%, there’s a clear preference. Software can show these simple insights, as well as trends and outliers that inform decision-making that shapes the workplace.

Space utilization benefits worth exploring

Why is there such an emphasis on utilization? Because there’s an abundance of space utilization benefits that accompany well-purposed space. Here’s a look at six of the biggest benefits companies can expect to see when they prioritize effective use of the workplace:

  1. Better workplace efficiency. Providing employees with space they’ll use not only results in better workplace utilization—it also increases efficiency. Employees are able to find and use workspaces that suit their needs, and do so with ease.
  2. Improved agility and flexibility. A well-moderated utilization rate enables a workplace to stay agile. Whether it’s hoteling or flexing into breakout spaces, appropriate utilization rates break down barriers that might prevent employees from using spaces efficiently.
  3. Reduced workplace friction. When they don’t feel cramped or restricted in the workplace, employee morale goes up. Higher employee morale leads to reduced friction among staff, and better collaboration and productivity.
  4. Lower cost of operation. Better utilization of available workspace saves companies the cost of wasting money on space they don’t need—or under-utilizing space to a point of losing money.
  5. Bottom-line savings and ROI. When the revenue generated by productive employees exceeds the cost of the space they work in, it signals efficiency. Good utilization rates can actually bring down the cost of operation, to generate even stronger bottom-line savings.
  6. Insights into employee needs. Facility managers who understand the context of space utilization have insight into what employees expect from their workplace. This understanding allows them to make changes that ultimately benefit everyone.

These benefits are only privy to businesses that understand and capitalize on efficient space utilization rates. Just because employees use space, doesn’t mean it’s valuable to them. Utilization tells a tale of the spaces they need and want, so facility managers can tailor a workplace that’s supportive and accommodating.

A focus on utilization can improve business efficiency

Space utilization features heavily into an efficient workplace. When employees have the workspaces they need, they’ll use them. When it’s easy to flex in and out of them, they will. It all boils down to understanding the ebb and flow of the workplace and how people interact with it. A clear understanding of interaction becomes the basis for informed improvements that bolster utilization rates.

There’s significant opportunity to increase utilization rates in workplaces big and small. When they do, businesses will reap the benefits associated with more efficient day-to-day operations.

Keep reading: Make Every Space Count with Space Utilization Software


What is Occupancy and Utilization?

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

Occupancy and utilization are two terms every facility manager needs to get familiar with. Not only are the terms themselves important to distinguish, the implications they have portend a significant amount of workplace decision-making. What is occupancy and utilization in the context of the workplace? Individually, they’re two crucial metrics for workplace governance. Together, they’re ingredients in the formula for workplace efficiency.

Here’s a look at occupancy and utilization in the context of the workplace, and the roles they play in engineering productivity, agility, and efficiency.

What is space occupancy?

Space occupancy is the measure of total employees in a workplace at a given time. It’s usually represented against the total capacity, to show occupancy rate. You can also measure space occupancy within the context of square footage, which is most common when facility managers seek to understand utilization.

Generally, space occupancy is a measure of people. It’s one side of the relationship between workspaces and how they’re used.

What is space utilization?

Space utilization is the other side of the workplace equation and represents a measure of usage. It’s represented as the rate at which employees use a particular space. Utilization can be a static measure, as well as a dynamic one. For example, you can measure the utilization of a space right now or over a period of months, weeks, days, or even hours.

Utilization provides insight into efficiency—how well a company is able to capitalize on the cost of the space it’s paying for.

How do you calculate occupancy and utilization?

Both occupancy and utilization have their own formula. It’s important to understand and calculate them both, to benchmark both sides of the workplace equation. Here’s how to calculate them:

  • The formula for space occupancy is occupied square footage divided by unoccupied square footage. If you occupy 20,000 square feet of space out of an available 22,000 square feet, your space occupancy rate is 90%.
  • The formula for space utilization is occupancy divided by capacity. If there are 34 people in a building that supports 50, the space utilization rate is 68%. This also applies at the workspace level, and can become a fluctuating measure in agile offices.

These figures serve important purposes in everything from KPI tracking to data-driven decision-making about the workplace. Each metric applies to different aspects of space management, but more often than not, facility managers will use them in conjunction with one another for a more holistic measure of space efficiency.

How do occupancy and utilization work together?

Occupancy and utilization go hand-in-hand. Occupancy represents the people within a workplace; utilization represents their interaction with those surroundings. Together, it paints a clear picture of a workplace in motion.

Say, for example, your occupancy rate for a particular floor of a building is at 85%. Now, imagine that space utilization on that floor is only 39%. What does that tell you? For starters, it likely signs that people assigned to that floor aren’t working on it. Or, it could signal that there are too many workspaces—or not enough of the type those employees need. On the surface, it’s clear there’s a problem, and further investigation is likely to yield insights.

Now, consider a more complex example. You’ve adopted a flex work arrangement. Occupancy is down to 40% and you’re thinking of downsizing the office. Space utilization rates show 80% for individual workstations, 20% for conference rooms, and 50% for breakout spaces. Using this data, you decide to consolidate facilities to eliminate half of the conference rooms, reduce the number of breakout spaces, and increase the number of hotel workstations in a smaller workspace. Occupancy rises to 60% and utilization balances out among the different workspaces.

There are endless examples of how occupancy and space utilization inform each other. As facility managers delve deeper into these figures, they’ll learn more about how to manipulate them in the context of tangible improvements to the workplace.

How to incorporate these variables into space management

The importance of occupancy and utilization in space management is unparalleled. These two metrics serve as the foundation for setting the parameters of available physical space. Moreover, they inform workplace managers of their options for how to make the most of space in regards to demand for certain types of spaces. In some cases, it’s as simple as realizing the need for more space. In other situations, it means having the ability to make desking decisions based on utilization rates.

Occupancy and utilization are important metrics in their own right, as well as together. They’re easy to track and monitor, and extremely insightful. Facility managers should abide by the trends and patterns they produce, and shape the workplace according to the data. The result is a workplace that’s efficient, accommodating, and comfortable for everyone in it.

Keep reading: Space Management and Planning Software Buyers Guide


How to Maximize Space Utilization

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

Space utilization is one of many metrics facility managers use to gauge the efficiency of the workplace. High utilization is typically associated with efficiency; low utilization indicates inefficiency. There’s a constant push and pull in dynamic workspaces to achieve optimal utilization. Facility managers are always asking themselves how to maximize space utilization.

Thankfully, there’s an abundance of software out there designed to help facilitate maximum space utilization. Some platforms, like a CAFM platform, set the stage of understanding utilization rates based on space and occupancy. Others, like IWMS and digital twins, provide the context for how employees use the workspace. Together, they paint a picture of utilization and opportunities to maximize it.

What is space utilization?

Space utilization meaning stems from interactions with the physical workplace. Specifically, it’s the measure of how well you’re using the workplace for the means of productive operations. A workspace that’s always occupied by a diligent worker has high utilization. A desk that sits unused most days has a poor utilization rate. It comes down to a question: how often do employees use the space in a productive capacity?

How to calculate utilization

Behind its surface definition there’s actually a fair amount of math in understanding space utilization. On a macro scale, utilization is the building’s occupancy divided by its capacity—the result is a broad measure of utilization at the building level. For example, if your building accommodates 500 and you staff 420, your utilization rate is 84%. It’s a measure useful for something like stack planning.

Digging deeper, utilization metrics distill all the way down to the workspace or seat level. Especially in flex environments and agile offices without assigned seating, it’s particularly important to gauge utilization at this level. Here again, the math is simple: you divide the number of hours the space is occupied by the total number of hours it’s available. If Workstation 201 is available 12 hours per day and it’s occupied six hours a day, the utilization rate is 50%.

It’s also important to note that utilization can be a moving target. Workstation 201 might sit occupied for six hours today, 10 hours tomorrow, and 10 hours the day after. Its aggregate average is just over eight and a half hours, for an average utilization rate of about 72%.

No matter how you measure it, utilization rate comes down to a measure of usage against total availability. As such, it’s a great metric for understanding if the costs associated with your workplace are worth it.

How to maximize space utilization

Maximizing space utilization comes down to understanding utilization rates and the drivers behind them. If employees only use a space at a rate of 20%, what factors prevent or dissuade them from using it more? Why does Room A have a much higher utilization rate than Room B, despite their proximity and relativity to each other? Utilization trends tell the story of space usage—it’s up to facility managers to interpret and address discrepancies.

  • Understand the utilization rates associated with a space
  • Benchmark them against other metrics to qualify utilization
  • Investigate low utilization rates to understand them better
  • Make targeted changes to increase the appeal or utility of space
  • Track changes in utilization to gauge employee responsiveness
  • Continue to track utilization and make changes based on demand

Maximizing space utilization is a continuous and iterative process. It comes down to providing employees with the types of spaces they need, and making it easy to access and use those areas.

To make changes, you need data

By now, you’ve realized that utilization metrics rely heavily on workplace data. If you don’t know anything about occupancy rates, you can’t calculate utilization. This is where the IoT and space utilization software come into play.

Sensor data from an office IoT can provide real-time occupancy data to generate important insights. From seat sensors to floor sensors and beyond, streaming data provides real-time, valuable insights into when and how people interact with the space around them. Fed into a digital twin of the workplace, this data paints a contextual picture of utilization.

Space utilization software supports integrations that provide context for occupancy and workplace goings-on. For example, a room booking system tied into the software can provide relevant data about conference room reservations: which rooms, when, how long, and other important metrics that enable utilization insights at macro and specific levels.

Efforts to maximize workplace utilization need data behind them. Without understanding and contextualizing space, any changes or improvements to it aren’t quantifiable or qualifiable—they’re just a shot in the dark.

Utilization is a priority for businesses

Maximizing space utilization is a clear and present priority for businesses because it means one thing: justifying the cost of the workplace. Facilities and their affiliated costs represent the bulk of a business’ overhead (outside of salaries). It’s vital to make sure those costs are offset by productivity and that the workplace more than pays for itself.

Establishing high utilization rates within the building and at the workspace level represents a diligent approach to operations management. It equates to giving workers the space they need and enabling them to be productive within it. High utilization shows continued demand for specific workspace types, which means better efficiency from employees on the balance sheet and from the workplace itself.

Keep reading: How to Choose Space Management Software


Digital Twin for Space Optimization

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

There’s no shortage of software out there to support facility managers as they seek to maximize the potential of the workplace. IWMS and CAFM platforms come to mind first, because they offer the broadest level of support. But even these systems aren’t a silver bullet for optimizing workspaces and floor plans—they merely aid in putting ideas into motion. Today, the most powerful insights come from a digital twin for space optimization.

Digital twins offer an abundance of context for workplace data. Rather than coordinating a floor plan based solely on space or occupancy, digital twins provide facility managers with dynamic data about the space. Sure, the room capacity is 40 people, but did you know that seat sensor data shows the average occupancy rate at just 25 people? It’s these kinds of insights that make digital twin technology instrumental in optimizing workspace design, layout, and function.

Here’s a look at why digital twins are becoming an integral part of workplace planning and how they optimize the efforts of facility managers.

Digital twins add contextual data

Digital twins are as dynamic as the physical spaces and assets they represent. This opens up a whole new segment of contextual information for facility managers. For example, floor sensors in conference rooms can add context to room reservation metrics provided by your booking system:

Booking data shows Conference Room 402 at a utilization rate of 60%, with an average room reservation time of one hour. While this is great information, it’s static. Floor sensor data aggregated by the digital twin might show that, despite an average one-hour booking time, employees typically only remain in the room for 45 minutes. There’s a period of roughly 15 minutes of dead space, when the room shows occupied but there’s no one in it. The real utilization rate is closer to 45%.

In this example, context from the digital twin can help the facility manager optimize the room booking process. Instead of 30-minute booking increments, employees can now book in 15-minute increments. The expectation is that utilization will rise.

How to turn IoT data into action

There’s an abundance of smart sensors in workplaces today. Many of them are always-on, constantly streaming data. A digital twin is instrumental in harnessing and aggregating this data, to make it actionable. This is especially important as the network of devices grows and becomes more robust. Consider the impact of IoT automation through a digital twin:

Conference Room 402 has A/V capabilities, which make it the de-facto space for presentations. Employees often complain about not being able to reserve the room because it’s in such high demand. Floor sensor data puts occupancy at roughly 80% each day. However, the light sensor only registers 50%, which means only half of occupants turn off the lights to present. The facility manager adds a question to the room reservation system: “Do you need to present anything?” If the answer is no, the booking system excludes Conference Room 402, to leave it more accessible to those who need A/V capabilities.

In this example, IoT data comes together to paint an even broader picture of space utilization. It allows facility managers to intervene in a tactful way, instead of jumping to conclusions—such as investing in additional expensive A/V equipment.

Space optimization with digital twin technology

Space optimization is the key to getting more out of leased space. With digital twins to provide context for data points, it becomes possible to optimize in strategic ways, with the goal of enabling better interaction with space. Based on digital twin data, FMs might choose to:

  • Expand or consolidate the total amount of office space
  • Adopt a new desking arrangement or booking system
  • Grant or restrict access to certain spaces by certain groups
  • Change the floor plan for a particular space

It all comes down to what the data shows and the context a digital twin provides. In many cases, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to improving space utilization. The benefit of a digital twin is that facility managers can sandbox their ideas to see what works, what doesn’t, and what the best outcome is for optimizing space.

Digital twins can support IWMS, CAFM

At this point, every facility manager needs to use cloud-based space planning software to orchestrate their workplace—the benefits are too great not to. But we’re moving into a new digital age where digital twins can provide even more context and support to these systems when it comes to space optimization. Where IWMS and CAFM provide tools for spatial management, digital twins provide the context for how employees use that space.

Space management software, a growing IoT, and a well-managed digital twin are the trifecta of technologies for space optimization. Bringing them together unlocks powerful opportunities for any business when it comes to managing and making the most of space.

Keep reading: How to Use Digital Twin Software