Stack planning is a data visualization process business leaders use to optimize office space around goals relating to growth, downsizing, or synergy between departments. It provides a big-picture overview of your real-estate portfolio, letting you see at a glance which spaces are used or free, where each department is located, and how your total space is allocated. Most importantly, stack planning allows you to determine how individual modifications will affect the whole.
The “stack” is typically displayed as a visual chart with all floors stacked as layers on top of each other. If your office space is found entirely within a single multi-story building, then the stacked layers may directly correspond to the floors of that building. On the other hand, if your office space is scattered around multiple properties, then the layers will simply represent the different spaces, but they need not be interpreted as floors within a single building.
The most common way to display stack planning is via a horizontal stacked bar chart. Each bar represents a floor that is proportionately divided into differently colored sections representing the amount of space taken up by each department or available to be used.
Office space management benefits from stack planning in several key areas, including optimizing space, forecasting and modeling future needs, and tracking the distribution of teams across multiple locations.
In order to use your office space most efficiently, you have to understand what space you have to work with and how it’s currently being used. Stack planning provides a visual overview of your total space, letting you understand the options available.
You’ll be able to see not only which spaces are being used, but which departments are using them. This can be vital information, as certain departments may need to be located near one another. You don’t want to move a department from one floor to another without considering how they interact with the departments around them. Stack planning simplifies this process.
Upon seeing where everything is currently located, you’ll be able to test hypothetical scenarios. You can reorganize, move people or departments around, and see how each change affects the big picture.
You’ll also see how much unused space is available on each floor. It may be that you already have the extra space needed to keep a growing department on the same floor in order to avoid the hassle of moving. And in some cases, you may have more unused space than you realized, possibly allowing you to consolidate your space utilization enough to decrease your real-estate portfolio and lower your overall lease costs.
Managing your office space involves more than reacting to space needs as they arise. Ideally, you should be planning for the future, predicting how much space you’ll ultimately need. You’ll want to maintain enough free space to accommodate expected growth across all departments, while at the same time not wasting your budget on extra space you won’t need for a long time.
Stack planning helps you make these forecasts by modeling how much space each department will need as your company grows. You’ll be able to compare that space demand with your space supply to determine how long your existing space should last and when you should plan on expanding your real-estate portfolio.
It can also assist you with cost planning. By comparing the cost of your current lease with the percentage of unused space, you’ll see how much of your lease budget is being “wasted,” and you may consider reducing your real-estate portfolio accordingly. And you’ll also be able to determine whether it will be more cost efficient in the long run to hang on to that space with the expectation of it being needed soon.
Let’s say 30 percent of the workstations in your office dedicated to sales are underutilized, and you believe you can cut 15 percent of your total sales workstations. Using stack planning, you can visualize how that change would affect your existing floor plan and consider where else your sales department could fit in the building. You’ll be able to determine how viable the plan really is without having to physically make the move to find out (and without having to undo the move if it doesn’t work out).
In some ways, stack planning becomes even more valuable when your people aren’t all located in the same building. Although the “floors” in a stack may not always correspond to the levels in a single building, they nonetheless allow you to visually conceptualize the entirety of space taken up by your workforce, no matter where they may be located.
Perhaps you’ve leased space from a few different buildings in close proximity to each other. Stack planning lets you treat those separate buildings as a single workplace, even though they aren’t physically connected.
Or maybe yours is a hybrid workplace where you need to keep track of remote and in-office employees alike. You can use stack planning to ensure you have enough space available for remote employees to come on site as needed, without letting more space than needed go to waste. Similarly, if you’re transitioning back to on-site work after a period of working remotely, stack planning can visualize the space you’ll need and help make that transition as seamless as possible.
Stack planning is implemented with space management software, such as Tango Space. You start building your stack by inputting all the floor plans for your office space. You can do this manually, and it can be as simple as providing the usable square footage for each floor, or you can upload CAD files for your space and build it out automatically.
With that framework in place, you then describe where each department is located, how many people they contain, and how much square footage they are using. In Tango Space, if you’ve already entered this information previously, Tango can automatically transfer everything over to the stack.
You’ll then be able to see everything at a glance in a single stack, and you can toggle back and forth from individual floor-plan views to the stack view. From there, you’ll be able to test any adjustments you’d like to make, and you’ll see how those changes will affect the whole. In Tango, you’ll also be able to take advantage of artificial intelligence to automatically map out the best plans for space utilization and to forecast your future needs. Give Tango your parameters, and our AI will show you the best configurations that satisfy your needs.
While you have your own great ideas about how best to use your space, leveraging AI ensures you don’t miss any possibilities that could yield more free space or better alignment with your business goals.
Stack planning is just one of the many features Tango Space has to offer. Whether you’re rearranging departments, planning for the future, or just wanting to make the best use of your space, everything you need is in one convenient system. You can visualize your existing space, manage reservations, track how each space is being used, incorporate IoT data, plan for what-if scenarios, forecast for future space requirements, and keep your office space running smoothly.
Want to see what Tango Space can do for your organization?