What is space utilisation and how can it help?
The changing face of the workplace, which is influenced by technological advances, changing working preferences, and the commercial need to reduce property costs means that the traditional office space often no longer suits the needs and desires of either employers or employees.
This is endorsed by research carried out by Gartner Group, which reports that 40% of all office desks are vacant during any standard business day and PWC, which reports that 74% of employees under the age of 24 reject the traditional style of office.
There are three megatrends that are influencing how the workplace is being used today (Hudson).
Technology: This relates to technological factors such as connectivity, automation, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data, which all are having a dramatic impact on the way we work today and will work in the future.
Political, social and economic: As our world becomes smaller and more connected whilst at the same time increasingly unstable, employees are demanding that their employers demonstrate a clear commitment to social responsibility.
Changing attitudes to work: We now have more generations in the workplace than ever before and with that comes greater and more varied demands from employees on their employers. With the youngest generations demanding connectivity, flexibility and mobility, as well as different leadership styles, employers are having to demonstrate they can play to all of these needs and desires in order to retain their top talent.
These influencing factors lead to a need to use office space more efficiently and the traditional open plan office with rows of desks, managerial offices and large meeting rooms are rapidly being replaced with more flexible and agile working spaces.
So how can you be sure that you’re creating an office space that is future-proofed and will meet the needs and desires of your business and employees today as well as tomorrow?
The answer is to carry out qualitative and quantitative space utilisation research, which can then be used to inform your office design. This evidence-based design will enable you to ensure that you are creating an office space that is not only fit for purpose but also based on credible research which will highlight exactly where your office space is underperforming and where utilisation and efficiency measures can be improved. It’s also essential to ensure that you carry out on-going or regular utilisation studies to measure how the space is used over time. This latter part is often overlooked by many companies and consequently, can have a negative impact on the final utilisation of the space.
A space utilisation audit gathers a combination of quantitative and qualitative data based on how the space is currently being used. The space utilisation audit will analyse the space utilisation across the entire property including reception areas, main office space, meeting rooms, breakout areas, refreshment areas, facilities, and stores. The audit will take into account not only how the space is used but how and when it isn’t used, so for example how many times meeting rooms are booked but the meeting doesn’t go ahead. The audit will also look at department flow, management styles and the relationships between each department.
The output is as detailed report that will inform your future decisions on how best to create an office space that will be utilised to its fullest potential.
We would always recommend that you don’t base your workplace design decisions on space utilisation audits alone. In addition, make sure you engage your leadership teams and employees, asking how they use the space today and how they wish to in the future. Also make sure that you take into account external industry benchmarking, reporting and advice and run pilot programmes to test your intentions before fully implementing them.
Committing to regular space utilisation audits to inform your office design will ensure that you achieve your overarching office design objectives based on factual evidence rather than gut feel or desire. The end result will be your entire property being utilised more effectively and efficiently, reduced operational costs and reduced need to re-arrange your office space as your company continues to grow and adapt. Your employees will be more collaborative, productive and satisfied.
As space planning experts, our team can take care of you space utilisation audits and evidence-based office designs, give us a call today.
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