Guides and Whitepapers

Measuring Actual Use of Space

Guides for Workplace Strategy and Management

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2 Why Measure Actual Use of Space Space planning is an ongoing process. Organizations continually need to adjust their workspace to meet changing market and economic conditions. The advent of the mobile workforce is the catalyst which allows many, if not most, employees to effectively "work from anywhere" making their workspace a static, underutilized liability for the organization. Studies by the International Facilities Management Association show that the cost of providing a workspace to an employee ranges between $8,000 and $14,000 per year. If the average utilization for each space is 50%, then the company is wasting $4,000 to $7,000 per year for each workspace! Multiply that times the number of workspaces and the potential savings are in the millions or tens of millions of dollars. Divesting underutilized real estate is a major business issue that can be addressed following a study for measuring how space is actually used. When leases come due organizations need to understand how they actually use space to determine if they should renew the lease, move, or consolidate. In many facilities, there is a "feeling" that there are too many unused workspaces during the work day, even though all workspaces are allocated to a department or to individuals. Many studies show that the utilization of the average workplace is less than 50%. The problem is that the unused workspace changes from day to day. Another major business issue that can be addressed following an actual use study is adding more employees without adding to facilities. The problem is a need to add people to a location that cannot physically house them. This can arise as organizations grow or when facilities are consolidated. A common scenario is the need to add people to a location in the absence of a budget for additional facilities. These two issues are resolved by leveraging the mobile workforce through implementation of an alternative workplace environment (AWS) that includes desk sharing. Tracking Inventory versus Managing Workspaces Most facility and real estate managers maintain an inventory of workspaces. These lists (spreadsheets, architect drawings, CAFM systems, etc.) are useful to track how many workspaces are in a building, the size (square footage) of each workspace, and how each workspace is allocated (by department or individual). The missing piece of data in all these systems is how often the workspaces are actually used. Adding this key data creates an invaluable tool for managing, versus simply tracking, the workspaces.

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