Strategic space management is one of the most important duties of corporate real estate (CRE) teams. Anyone responsible for managing an organization’s real estate portfolio should also be using long term strategies to improve how well their physical space is meeting the needs of all stakeholders.
Moreover, when commercial and corporate real estate managers use the right software to oversee their portfolios, they can also create a more informed workplace strategy. One that is more sustainable and cost-effective. And that helps improve the hybrid workplace and the employee experience, too.
Ultimately, while space management is often considered to be the sole domain of facility management (FMs), real estate teams today are also often expected to leverage technology to improve their portfolio management as well.
In the following article, we explore how CRE managers can provide and optimize strategic space management in their portfolios. We also review five key benefits of using the right software to do so.
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Strategic space management is about continually improving how people are using a current space, while staying mindful of—and preparing for—future space needs.
Effective space management in an office space can lead to improved space utilization. It can also help management teams better handle issues like move management, asset management, and space allocation.
And when an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) enhances decision making, managers can dramatically improve their real estate portfolio management. This leads to space management that is truly ‘strategic.’
With the right IWMS, the real estate management process can include everything that makes available space more streamlined and optimized. Such as supporting a wider variety of work environment types and making it easier to maintain social distancing. It can also provide interactive floor plans that make it easier for everyone to navigate the office.
In short, strategic space management encompasses all the data-driven and forward-thinking initiatives that all planners—whether FMs or commercial and corporate real estate teams—use to improve the physical spaces they’re responsible for. It’s the master plan for supporting organizations and their occupants now and well and into the future.
The key to strategic space management is having accurate, real-time data about how people are currently using space. It’s only with robust data that real estate teams can make informed decisions to improve property management.
Specifically, real estate managers need access to good space management reports and analytics that include space utilization data. This typically will include portfolio reports, along with occupancy data and more insights into how people are using their space.
Being able to identify how space is currently used can provide a clearer understanding of how much space you actually need. This, in turn, provides opportunities to continually optimize your space management strategy.
“We needed more accountability, better data, and accurate reporting to keep up with Shopify’s rapid growth.”Alicia Murrell, Workplace Experience Manager at Shopify
“We needed more accountability, better data, and accurate reporting to keep up with Shopify’s rapid growth.”
And the only way to accurately do this is with facilities management software that makes it easy to follow space management best practices and the three basic elements of space management (i.e.: space planning, implementation, and space tracking).
It’s critical that anyone managing CRE also has access to the right strategic space management software.
For example, this software is what helps companies like Shopify optimize their real estate portfolios.
“Before we launched OfficeSpace internally, we didn’t have visibility into who sat where, and there was no way to track when people moved,” says Alicia Murrell, Workplace Experience Manager at Shopify. “We needed more accountability, better data, and accurate reporting to keep up with Shopify’s rapid growth.”
Moreover, when implemented with the right technologies, space management software can be part of the same IWMS that provides a host of other benefits to the office. This includes desk booking and meeting room booking, hot desking and other forms of flexible working, request management, lease management, and improved wayfinding. In short, it provides a shortcut to both better strategic space management and a better office.
Specifically, real estate teams and CRE managers can expect to reap the following five benefits from choosing space management software to optimize their space inventory.
Of course, the first duty for any real estate manager is to get the rent paid on time. And whether you’re managing one small business leasing one small room, or responsible for enterprise facility management and suite of rental buildings, having all your documents, dates and data in one place makes it much easier to manage your portfolio and even normalize lease costs.
Ultimately, a good lease management system is one that is cloud-based. Also, one that will integrate with your space planning software, saving you both time and money.
Facility planning almost always comes down to improving space utilization. And improving space utilization always comes down to choosing the right IWMS. The same software that improves space management today will also inherently improve space management tomorrow. For example, good headcount planning for the future can only happen when CRE managers have accurate space metrics. This includes things like cost per employees, and vacancy and occupancy rates.
Good space management software is always at the heart of good facility planning. Whether that planning is done by a full time FM or a real estate manager, or it’s assigned by someone else on the team to save money. In fact, this software becomes critically essential in any scenario where a real estate manager or other employee is responsible for FM duties like scenario planning or restacking the workplace.
Every organization would like to save money, and most are now also concerned with environmental sustainability. Choosing the right strategic space management software can dramatically lead to both.
Specifically, when an IWMS is integrated with IoT sensors and, preferably, a badge system, you can create a building that only uses resources when people actually need them. Why keep the lights on and temperature up for an empty workspace or office?
Creating a smart building IoT is ultimately a great strategy for real estate, as it allows you to collect—and use—much more data related to occupancy and the way people use the space they’re in.
Plus, with the right software, you may be able to eliminate or consolidate the role of FM into existing real estate management or other positions—again, saving the price of another full time employee.
Real estate managers need to keep their building occupants happy. This is complicated by the growing popularity of a hybrid work schedule and the rise in the hybrid workforce. Without the traditional 9-to-5 schedule to follow, it’s much more difficult for CRE professionals to keep track of who needs the office, when.
That’s why it’s critical to use an IWMS that allows you to leverage the right occupancy data. Data that will help with strategic space planning for both the return to the office. Not to mention for any of the hybrid workplace models that are emerging.
Using this same software will also make it easy to embrace flexible seating trends like agile working or free addressing. In particular, by eliminating assigned seats, a free address workplace can improve space standards—and lead to much happier occupants, too.
“At Dropbox, we use Move Manager to handle quick, one-off moves that happen almost daily—smaller reshuffles, seating new hires, terminations—and to orchestrate large-scale moves that involve in-depth planning and a variety of stakeholders.”Sean Germano, Project Manager Design & Construction, Dropbox
“At Dropbox, we use Move Manager to handle quick, one-off moves that happen almost daily—smaller reshuffles, seating new hires, terminations—and to orchestrate large-scale moves that involve in-depth planning and a variety of stakeholders.”
Last but certainly not least, strategic space management can help to create a pleasant atmosphere. And thus a better workplace experience for occupants.
Providing an energy-friendly building and keeping the right technology easily accessible to occupants are things that all generations in the workplace will appreciate.
Plus, the right strategic software and planning makes change management so much easier. Whether that’s new hires, office moves, department changes, or complete company reorganization.
In short, the workplace is always changing. And space management is the last place where you want to be playing catch-up. The tools and technologies that go hand-in-hand with strategic space planning will also enable CRE professionals and FMs to plan better.
This is how you avoid issues like not having enough space or not being able to organize effectively. It’s also how you keep building occupants—i.e.: employees—happy and productive. This can also help to improve attraction and retention, so critical now in the era of the Great Resignation.
Gone are the days of trying to manage corporate real estate in a big binder or bloated Excel doc. Today’s CRE professionals need software to continually provide the best possible strategic space management to their clients and organizations.
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Photos: Karolina Grabowska, Andrea Piacquadio, energepic.com