Whether your organization has a single office building or hundreds of them, getting the most value from your real estate takes work. With strategic space planning, you can optimize your office space for a variety of goals, including reducing costs, maximizing space utilization, downsizing your real estate portfolio, creating better synergy, and more.
Whatever your goals or your industry, you’ll need to apply modern space management principles to effectively organize your space around the objectives you want to achieve.
Here are seven tips to help you optimize your office space.
While you can technically optimize office space around a goal without understanding the nuances of how it’s being used, a blind approach will almost never lead to the best outcomes. For example, if your goal is to reduce your real estate footprint and downsize your portfolio, you could simply eliminate square footage until you reach your target. But you’ll inevitably eliminate the types of spaces your employees rely on, and you should aim to cut the space your organization needs the least.
There are a wide range of metrics and methods for tracking your space utilization, and all of them have value. The best approach is to utilize IoT sensors to collect anonymized occupancy analytics data you can explore and organize in a centralized system. However, most organizations use a combination of solutions that give limited visibility into utilization, such as badge data, manual walkthroughs (counting bodies in seats/rooms), desk booking software, and a visitor management system.
Whatever your methods, the key is understanding and monitoring how occupants are using the available space right now. Then you can make informed decisions about reorganizing it with minimal disruption to regular operations.
However you intend to optimize your office space, you’ll need to pinpoint spaces that could be used more effectively. If you’re tracking space utilization metrics like occupancy and vacancy rates or analyzing office hoteling data, you’ll be able to identify meeting rooms, offices, workstations, and amenities that rarely get used or don’t have enough occupants to justify its current amount of dedicated space. These spaces represent your best opportunities to reallocate office space, whether you repurpose the entire area or simply reduce its square footage.
Many organizations today are consolidating their office space and subleasing underutilized space. Knowing how much square footage you can offer starts with identifying spaces your employees aren’t using often enough.
Even with an excellent plan, offices often wind up with inadequate space for certain activities or processes. Although space planning and a thoughtful office layout can influence how employees use your space, demand for space tends to change over time and ultimately depends on the cumulative choices employees make. You’ll know you need more of a particular space when it has a high occupancy rate or gets fully booked far in advance. You can also learn about the demand for space by surveying employees.
As you eliminate types of space you don’t need, you’ll have more square footage to allocate toward spaces you do need.
Effective office space optimization requires you to map out “what if” scenarios and problem solve ways to use the space you have to meet your goals. This is typically done in space management software like Tango Space, where you’ll often have CAD integration capabilities, advanced ways to organize your space data, and workflows for implementing your plans.
Scenario plans are also helpful because they enable you to compare potential moves and explore optimization options before actually making changes—so you can predict which decisions would likely lead to the best overall outcomes based on what you’re optimizing for.
On your own, you can probably imagine a few different ways to satisfy your goals and optimize your office space. But even expert consultants can’t ideate every possible configuration—and if you rely on human planning capabilities, you might miss better ways to optimize your office. There could be another approach that would exceed your goals, or have fewer repercussions.
That’s why solutions like Tango Space use artificial intelligence to generate options. You establish the parameters, Tango reveals the most effective options, and you choose the best move for your office.
In the past, office space optimization was typically a matter of trying to pack as many employees as possible into as little space as possible. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, however, most offices aimed for de-densification, giving employees more space between workstations. Still, it’s important to recognize that there are other ways to increase the ratio of employees to workspaces besides cramming more desks into the same space.
Over the last few years, many offices adopted some form of hybrid work, enabling employees to share workstations through an office hoteling system or assigning days they’d work remotely. Employers can adjust the ratio of employees to workstations by modifying their hybrid work model. For example, you might increase the number of days employees can (or have to) work remotely. If you use an assigned schedule, you can alter it so that each workstation is shared by an additional employee throughout the week.
Another method is to change the ratio of private offices to workstations. In many companies, a private office is a privilege given to employees who have reached a certain status. But the value of that status symbol needs to be balanced against the significance of the wasted space. If you’re more concerned about optimizing your space for capacity than privacy, you should convert as many private offices as possible into workstations for multiple people.
Any change you make to your office space is going to impact at least some employees. And while you may be confident that your plan won’t negatively affect anyone, it’s important to give employees frequent opportunities to tell you how they feel about changes—ideally before and after you make them. Including employees in this process will help you address potential frustrations, craft more meaningful rationale, and make decisions employees feel more comfortable with.
Effective space optimization can give your organization a competitive advantage. By reconfiguring the space you have right now, you could avoid buying or renting additional space you don’t need, lower your occupancy costs, and improve employee satisfaction and productivity. Real estate is one of your biggest expenses—so why not do everything you can to make the most of that investment?
Want to see what space management software can do for your organization?