What are the three basic elements of space management? Effective space planning, effective implementation, and effective tracking to make continual improvements.
When facility managers (FMs) use the right tools to maximize these components of space management, they can increase both cost-effectiveness and productivity in the office. Following these three elements can even lead to happier workers.
In the following article, we will explore the three basic elements of space management in the office. We also review how FMs can maximize them to create better workspaces.
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Space management refers to how people use a facility, and how facility managers and companies optimize it to create a more cost-effective and productive environment. It involves accurately assessing a current space, including how employees are currently using it. FMs can then take this data to continually improve space utilization, which is the way space is divvied up.
Assuming they are following space management best practices, FMs can use space management to make a workspace that better supports workers and helps organizations meet their goals and targets. Using a space management program is typically the best way to streamline this process.
One of the primary benefits of space management is that FMs can use it to reduce the amount of physical space their organization needs while still maintaining the same occupancy levels. This can lead to cost savings on corporate real estate, while also inherently improving sustainability.
Effective space planning can also make using an office space much easier. When the right software manages administrative tasks like room and desk booking, employees will waste less time on unnecessary things. And FMs can use space management to make improvements to the office layout that can actually improve productivity and employee experience.
Namely, the more people are able to sit and interact with the right teams and people, the more they’ll be able to stay on task and optimally engaged.
Finally, note that in some industries, the three basic elements of space management refers to speed control, lane positions, and other tools used to avoid vehicle collisions.
In the world of work; however, space management squarely focuses on how people use the physical office.
The main roles and responsibilities of a FM have always been to keep their facilities running smoothly. This is while also giving employees any and all tools they need to do their best work.
So not surprisingly, space management is at the heart of facilities management; the better a FM optimizes their physical space, the more they optimize the work that employees can do there.
As we’ll cover below, different workplace structures and strategies will have different roads to better optimization.
That said, there are certain key components of space management planning to always follow.
Specifically, space management strategies should adhere to the following three basic elements of space management.
Effective space management begins with effective planning.
FMs should collaborate with other departments as well as with employees to determine specific goals and to plan their physical space accordingly.
This planning process will look different depending on the work environment type the company is using or planning to use—namely traditional offices, open offices, activity-based work (ABW), agile working, office neighborhoods, and/or other bookable spaces.
For example, the need for bookable desks and rooms can add a greater level of complexity to space management. And activity-based work needs a wider variety of available workspaces.
Moreover, many companies are now embracing flexible working in general, and hybrid working in particular. FMs managing hybrid teams will need to think outside-the-office when it comes to space planning. This is because many of their workers will be remote at least part of the time. But they will still need access to all the same tools as their in-office coworkers.
This can be particularly challenging in companies following the pioneer hybrid work model in particular. This is where the majority (if not all) workers will be remote for much of the time.
For hybrid office pioneers, the ‘office’ is really a revolving-door workplace where workers come and go, mostly for collaboration. For these organizations, tools like IoT sensors and free addressing often make sense.
Ultimately, in order to reach their office space management potential, FMs will have to carefully parse their workspace reality and goals.
The following tools can help in their decision making:
Like the name suggests, scenario planning lets FMs anticipate the likely effects of different scenarios before actually enacting them.
In the office, scenario planning is particularly useful for testing out new floor plans and layouts before committing to new reconfigurations.
Like Bernard Morrissey, Chief Officer for Real Estate and Facilities at K&L Gates, says of his organization’s use of scenario planning, “…it’s so helpful to create virtual versions of our floor plans in Scenarios, and play around with a few different options, especially when we’re planning big office reshuffles.”
Stack Plans can also give a high-level view of the office to help FMs better optimize their space.
Here, the ‘stack’ is a visual representation of floor plans that gives a complete picture of current space utilization.
FMs can use stack planning to get a better sense of whether space is being wasted. They can also use it to see if the right teams are sitting together and/or near the tools and spaces they need.
It can also help with move management, which we’ll cover further below.
The second basic element of space management is the work of actually implementing new layouts, office designs, and strategies, always using the right tools and technology.
Remember that the goal of space management is to create a more engaging and productive workspace. In order to accomplish this in increasingly complex offices, FMs have to ensure they are using the right technology, which typically comes in the form of an Integrated Workplace Management System, or IWMS.
When this IWMS manages all aspects of using and managing the office, it can make life—and work—easier for everyone on the team.
Specifically, FMs should seek out space management software and an IWMS with the following capabilities:
As we’ve covered, flexible and hybrid spaces require bookable desks and other bookable workstations.
While in theory, sign-in sheets may be able to handle these bookings, the reality is that employees need to be able to check into and out of desks in real time, which can quickly become challenging.
The best software will therefore be able to streamline hot desking, hoteling, reverse hoteling, and every flexible seating arrangement in between.
Similarly, easy room booking is also critical to implementing better space management.
After a FM has completed a space inventory and decided how many meeting rooms and other collaborative areas are needed, these spaces need to be accessible to everyone.
Room booking systems can also benefit from meeting room digital signage. Zoom meeting calendar integrations are important as well, especially when dealing with a hybrid workforce.
What happens when a request comes in from the 10th floor, while you’re on the 1st?
Like Scott Moitoza, Senior Director of Real-Estate and Facilities at Procore says, “(u)nless you have the right system in place, sending requests to facilities can be a tedious process for employees.”
That’s why FM should choose an IWMS that includes request management software that is easily accessible from anywhere.
“Being able to submit and track facility requests quickly—just by typing /request into Slack—has been a game-changer for everyone in our company,” says Scott.
In an ideal world, workers could be assigned desks once, and never have to move again.
The real world, of course, is much messier, and FMs are regularly tasked with managing both big and small moves.
They should therefore look for space management software that makes move management simple, like they’ve done at 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,” says Sean Germano, Project Manager Design & Construction at Dropbox.
Workers need to be able to easily navigate their office themselves. But also, they need to see how everyone else is navigating it, too.
In other words, workers need visibility. It affects how well they’re able to access resources and connect with people when necessary.
That’s why wayfinding, which comprises all the tools that help people navigate their space, is so critical. This is especially true for visitors and for mostly remote workers who use the office infrequently.
FMs may also want to consider an interactive map like Visual Directory that gives a complete, real-time window into how the office is being used, when, and by whom.
Finally, the interesting fact about modern space management is that for many organizations, people will rarely all be using the office at the same time anymore.
That’s why any space management tools need to be available and accessible in real time, from anywhere.
This requires that this software be available on a mobile app.
It should also be able to integrate with Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and/or whatever other collaboration tools a team is already using.
This generally means that the software should also be cloud-based, typically provided as integrated ‘software as a service’ (SaaS).
The third and final element of space management is continually evaluating space utilization, in order to improve it.
If they are not already, FMs should start collecting analytic data about their space. Then, they can begin to build a picture of how it is really being used.
They can then use this real-time data to make upgrades and adjustments as necessary.
This process can be streamlined when insight data is provided by portfolio reports, which can provide critical real estate data such as cost per employee, occupancy, and operational costs.
Like Scott Moitoza at Procore says, “I manage all of our leases with OfficeSpace … And I use the real estate reports to quickly view accurate costs for each of Procore’s offices and understand why some locations are more expensive than others.”
Space management is important for the workplace because it can help companies save money and stay flexible. This is while also helping employees to be more productive and engaged.
In other words, good space management can make a better, more streamlined and future-proof workplace.
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Photos: jeffbergen, Daniel McCullough, Karolina Grabowska, Andrea Piacquadio