The FM Professional

Facilities reporting: how to leverage the right data to create a better workplace

Kayla Giles
December 14th, 2022

Facilities reporting is key to creating the right workplace in our new normal. 

As companies embrace more dynamic workplaces and a wide variety of hybrid schedules, it’s more important than ever to have a clear understanding of what’s actually happening in the physical workplace. And this clear understanding can only come from clear, accessible workplace reports and analytics

In this article, we explore facilities reporting and what makes a good facility management report. We’ll also cover the types of metrics facility managers (FMs) can track. This is along with three key reports they should be leveraging. 

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What is facilities reporting?

Like the name suggests, facilities reporting is a breakdown of how different aspects of a facility are performing. A critical FM responsibility, creating detailed reports of the workplace and the building that houses it can help to improve workplace experience and employee engagement. 

And of course, good reporting can help to keep costs in check. It can ensure that the physical work environment is supporting a company’s long-term business objectives. 

Thanks to space management software (often a CMMS or IWMS) and sometimes occupancy sensors, FMs today are able to collect a vast array of useful data about the workplace. 

But simply collecting data alone isn’t enough. This data must be presented to key decision makers in actionable, easy-to-digest reports. In turn, decision makers can use these reports to make better and better-informed choices for their reporting facilities. 

A good facility management report

Reporting requirements will vary depending on who will be accessing a facility management report. First and foremost, these reports need to be accessible to the stakeholders who will be using them. 

Facility management maintenance includes both preventative and predictive maintenance. This means FMs need to arm themselves with the robust reports pulled from workplace management software and any IoT sensors. When FMs compile this data for internal department use (i.e.: for fellow FMs), it’s ok to lean into jargon. And you might not need to break down certain data points. 

But the goal of facilities reporting is often to keep leadership and decision makers (i.e.: non-facility managers) up to speed. As such, those writing reports should be writing most reports in succinct, every-day language, with clear analysis and explanations. 

And, critically, most reports should include recommendations, highlighting opportunities to improve resources, offices, and facility planning.  

Yes, pretty graphics and catchy headlines are great. 

But a main goal of a good facility management report will be to show how improving the physical workplace can improve the work being done there. 

This will often include recommendations for ways to right-size the real estate portfolio to lock in cost (and environmental) savings. It may also provide insights gleaned from office scenario and stack planning. This is in addition to recommendations for work environment types that might better serve employees. 

Like we’ve covered, most companies now understand the importance of collecting workplace data. 

But on average, people only actually analyze 12% of organizational data

Facilities reporting is the bridge between data and decisions. It helps ensure that even the most advanced workplace analytics provide truly actionable insights. 

Like Chris Hodges reminds us in FM Link, “data is everywhere; but we’ve been so captivated by our ability to collect vast quantities of the stuff that we often lose sight of what we’ve set out to accomplish — improve performance.”

“One of the biggest challenges facing facility managers is distinguishing what data is important, and what to do with it once we’ve determined which metrics bring value.”

Chris Hodges, FM Link
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Metrics and KPIs: Understand the difference

Before jumping into how to make a facility report, it’s important to understand the relationship between metrics and KPIs.

A metric is simply a data point. It’s a piece of information that people can collect in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes. 

For example, average space utilization is a metric an FM might track. 

Meanwhile, key performance indicators (KPIs) are specific metrics that are continually tracked. This is in order to show how well an organization is meeting its goals and objectives. They’re the metrics that are most important to success, helping determine where to direct money and resources. 

For example, expected space utilization versus actual space utilization, tracked over time by building and/or by floor, is a KPI a company might track if they’re looking to improve their corporate real estate optimization (and/or reduce their carbon emissions along with other sustainability initiatives).

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The metrics FMs should track

Performance data is not all equal. As such, ‘industry standard’ KPIs for facility management are less important than determining what is right for your company.  And, like we’ve covered, different departments will have different requirements from the reporting process. 

The metrics you track can change over time, too, just as your business goals and workplace strategies change over time. 

That’s why determining the right parameters to track depends on your overall goal. Is your company trying to right-size their real estate portfolio or enhance employee engagement? Or doing their initial due diligence in collecting workplace data in order to make informed, data-driven decisions? Answering these questions will point you in the direction of all the other questions you can and should be asking of your data. 

Finally, since facilities reports are the vehicle FMs can use to keep track of their own facility checklist, most will have their own custom metrics to track as well. 

“KPIs form the bridge between the tactical level at which most metrics are gathered, and the strategic level where the most important performance indicators are defined.” 

Chris Hodges

9 Common metrics tracked in facilities reporting:

  1. Average space utilization on a daily or hourly basis
  2. Peak utilization
  3. Occupancy rates by floor 
  4. Popularity of different types of workspaces and/or collaboration spaces
  5. Booking demand
  6. Desk utilization daily, hourly, and by desk type
  7. Frequency of facilities requests
  8. Cost per employee
  9. Operational costs
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Three reports FMs should leverage

All the right metrics are meaningless if they’re not compiled into meaningful reports. 

Specifically, FMs will likely need to create and leverage reports in the following three areas:

  1. Workplace reports that highlight how space is being used in real time, including metrics like cost per employee and occupational costs. This type of data is often gleaned from room booking and desk booking software, office neighborhood software, and workplace IoT
  2. Occupancy and allocation reports that highlight desk and room utilization. These reports can improve strategic space management in particular, highlighting areas where space needs to be improved or expanded to keep up with demand. 
  3. Budget reports that combine real estate costs with occupancy and headcount planning metrics. Reports that combine lease costs with average utilization, for example, can highlight how and where to rightsize your global portfolio, dramatically improving real estate portfolio management.

Finally, it’s important to note that the complexity of facilities reporting is directly related to the complexity of the office. 

In other words, as dynamic, hybrid offices become the norm, FMs will need dynamic reports to keep pace. 

“The dimensions of how people are using the office have changed dramatically,” says Kathleen Williams, Senior Product Manager at OfficeSpace.  “Without advanced workplace analytics tools and good reporting, people won’t have a good idea of how to see what’s actually happening in their workplace.” 

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How to create a facilities report

Like Hodges notes, “a great report is a mix of science and art.” Data needs to be interpreted and presented in an accessible way. And it needs to tell a story about how good facility management and space planning is helping to create better business outcomes. 

To create these types of actionable reports, FMs have two main options. 

They can pour over hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of data points in endless spreadsheets, and manually pull out the information they need. Unsurprisingly, this type of process is time consuming at best (and prone to mistakes and oversights at worst). 

Using facility management software

Or, FMs can use facility management software instead. Ideally cloud-based, this type of software can synthesize the right data into accessible reports. It dramatically simplifies the reporting process and prevents downtime.   

OfficeSpace clients, for example, can leverage out-of-the-box reports. They can also work with their Client Success Manager to ensure they’re able to measure, monitor, and optimize their workplace data in the right way for their needs. 

Beyond this, FMs will need to create reporting dashboards and a schedule that works with their goals. And in general, the more data the better. 

“As a rule of thumb, I’d say the bigger the decision and the higher the stakes, the more you’re going to need more confidence in your data,” says Williams. 

That’s why one OfficeSpace client approached their return to the office as a big data experiment. Prior to the pandemic, the company didn’t offer bookable, flexible seating. So as they embraced a new hot desking strategy, the FM team knew they weren’t starting out with enough data to make long-term space decisions. Instead, they asked employees to book out seats for six months in advance. FMs have been tracking expected use versus actual use. They will be using this data to compile more accurate reporting and suggestions for their leadership team.  

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Facilities reporting FAQs

How do you write a facility management report?

To write a facility management report, you need to collect appropriate metrics over a given period of time. And then present these metrics in a way that is accessible to the people who will be using the data. Ideally, analytics, and dashboards available within facility management software will simplify this process. 

Who should a facility manager report to?

Who a facility manager reports to will be largely dependent on the structure of their organization. In smaller organizations, they may report directly to leadership and/or ELT teams. In larger organizations, they may report to a Facilities Head, an Operations Manager or Director, or a similar position. Note that an increasing number of organizations have started to outsource facility management services, which will impact facilities reporting.  

What are examples of facility services?

Facility services is a broad term that covers a wide array of services necessary to keep a workplace and/or a physical facility operating. This can include building management, space planning and management, lease/portfolio management, predictive and preventive maintenance, scenario and stack planning, HVAC and building maintenance, procurement, and emergency and contingency planning.  As more companies switch to hybrid work, facility services may also include supporting and optimizing a wide variety of flexible working scenarios. 

What is the function of a facility management report?

The function of a facility management report is to provide the reader with a top level overview of specific areas of a workplace and/or physical environment. These reports will typically be tailored to showcase the data most important to the reader. They also typically include recommendations for future improvements. 

What is the importance of reporting in healthcare?

Reporting in care hospitals, long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations can help ensure patient safety and outcomes, along with ensuring the organization stays on budget. Hybrid workplace software for biotech and pharma can help improve this process. 

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Photos: LaylaBird, courtneyk, AleksandarNakic, Koh Sze Kiat, TommL, andresr