Guides and Whitepapers

Measuring Actual Use of Space

Guides for Workplace Strategy and Management

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6 Company B (needs to add employees) Company B houses 5,000 employees in a corporate campus environment comprised of six buildings. The campus is full and there is no plan or budget to build more facilities. However, there is a business need to add 500 additional employees to this location. The company needs to know how it can add employees without adding to facilities. A study using six months worth of security entry data showed that the average utilization of all six buildings was 72%. The peak utilization was the same, leading this organization to think initially that it had virtually no mobile workers. But the study also revealed that roughly 650 employees utilized their workspace less than 50% of the time... in fact, the average utilization for these people was 23%. Consequently the company determined that it needed only 165 desks to house the 650 newly found mobile workers. This freed up nearly 500 desks, which are now available for new employees. 

 This may seem like its cutting it close, but other factors come into play. The remaining 3,900 employees who use their desk more than 50% of the time were found to actually use their workspaces 80% of the time, meaning that on any given day over 700 workspaces are going unused. By using a workplace management system, this organization can easily accommodate the growth of 500 people initially and many hundreds more before reaching full capacity. 

 How to determine Actual Use of Space
 The traditional process for measuring space utilization is to perform a manual walk through of the space and record human presence, or "signs of life" (e.g. jacket on chair). This process is often referred to as bed checking. Bed checks are thought to be inexpensive and relatively accurate. In fact, they are neither. Bed checks are labor intensive, not only for the collection of the data by having people walk around the facilities (a very time consuming and nearly impossible task in a large facility), but also for the people who take the huge amount of data collected and manually enter, or consolidate, it in a computer system. This might be feasible for a one-time shot, but to sustain this effort on an ongoing basis is unrealistic. Bed checks are inaccurate because they need to take place at a specific moment in time for the entire facility. If the room occupant steps away from his or her workspace, or is attending a meeting, the workspace can be mis-classified as unused. The same goes for a person who works offsite in the morning and comes into the office in the afternoon. It's very easy to "see" when a workspace is is nearly impossible to "see" when it is not being used that day. 

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