87% of corporate real estate teams listed optimizing their organization’s workspace portfolio as a primary goal in 2022. Further, 65% of CRE teams want to reduce real estate costs, and 65% want to improve space data accuracy. With the proliferation of flexible and hybrid work, workspaces need to support a more diverse range of activities, presenting a unique challenge to corporate real estate teams. How can they best understand the amount and types of space that their organization needs?
Determining the right mix of spaces can lead to significant savings and greatly improve the employee experience. Conversely, missing the mark can make implementing hybrid work extremely challenging, with pricey space inefficiencies and frustration among employees and leaders. To make sound decisions, corporate real estate teams must collect data about how their organization uses their workspaces.
Traditionally, CRE teams have focused on occupancy metrics, which measure how a company plans to use its space. Commonly tracked occupancy metrics include:
- Capacity, the total number of seats in a workspace.
- Vacancy percentage, the total number of unassigned seats divided by capacity.
- Design density, the total square footage of the workspace divided by the number of seats.
What all of these metrics have in common is that they measure a plan—in calculating these metrics, CRE teams are considering how the space is designed, but not how the spaces will actually be used. While occupancy data has historically been useful, particularly for more conventional office spaces, hybrid work necessitates understanding how organizations actually use their space, not just how much space exists.
As such, tracking utilization data is key for organizations adopting flexible work models. 69% of organizations have revisited their workplace design since 2020. Hybrid work has challenged the traditional model of what an office space looks like, moving from more individual “me” spaces to more communal “we” spaces designed to support collaboration. Accurately measuring the utilization patterns of these new spaces will allow CRE teams to assess the performance of each type of workspace. Teams can then use this data to inform real estate decisions to generate financial savings and improve the employee experience. Utilization data is particularly valuable for organizations that have high levels of flexibility, and thus high levels of variability in their demand for space.
Utilization data is usually captured at the building level, looking at either the number of people using a space at a particular time, or the amount of time that a space is occupied. Often, organizations can track utilization through infrastructure that is already in place. Five common sources of utilization data are:
- Badge swipes
- Visual observation
- WiFi and network analysis
- Ceiling mounted area sensors
- Threshold sensors
Collecting utilization data allows CRE teams to optimize their organization’s workspace portfolio and improve the employee experience. Understanding how different type spaces are used by employees can inform CRE teams’ decisions of which spaces should be kept and which spaces can potentially be reduced. As such, utilization data can help inform future occupancy metrics decisions and enable CRE teams to confidently make real estate decisions to drive significant financial savings.