Space Utilization: What it Is & Its Benefits

Reading Time: 4 minutes

More and more companies are trying to find ways to make use of every bit of real estate they have in their building. Employees are spending more time away from desks and working remotely as a way of lowering overhead and making more use of the workforce without requiring the office space.

That said, remote work might save space, but it doesn’t always provide an agile work environment. We’re looking at how space utilization relates to productivity and time management.

What is Space Utilization?

The basic definition of space utilization is your building’s occupancy divided by its capacity. This gives you a percentage of how much of the space in your office that you’re using versus how much is sitting idle.

Where many businesses struggle is determining the proper space utilization. How much can we divide up our space, how much space do we need to give each individual, and how will this impact our productivity? These are the questions that office managers ask themselves when thinking about office space utilization.

There is something called JLL’s 3-30-300 rule. This means that for every square foot of space, the business pays 3 dollars on utilities, $30 on rent, and $300 on the payroll. Of course, these are not concrete numbers, but you can use this as a platform to determine how much you spend per square foot.

What Types of Businesses Need to Measure Space Utilization?

Any business that operates with a traditional office setting needs to think about space utilization and how it impacts productivity. A well-designed workplace helps workers be more productive, happy, and social.

While many employers may design against a social working environment, these trends have changed quite a bit over time. In today’s workplace, the design of the office has a lot more to do with concentration and collaboration.

Overall, a well-designed office makes it easier for employees to get their job done, work with others, and stick around the company longer.

Why Is Space Utilization Important?

Space utilization is a critical task for office managers because you need to make the most of the real estate you have available. The average work station is only around 40 square feet, which means you can do a lot with a large office.

It’s essential to make the most out of every square inch so you can have a productive environment, but it’s a lot more than trying to squeeze as many people into a bunch of cubicles. Space utilization is about combining the elements of design and functionality, so they work in perfect harmony.

Lastly, some employees may have more collaboration with others, while some may work independently throughout the day.

As a leader in the workplace, it’s your job to determine how to break up these workstations into sections that work well together. For this reason, focusing entirely on the size of the workstation is not as important as focusing on the function.

Best Practices for Space Utilization Efficiency

Now let’s talk about some practical situations where we can improve space utilization in the workplace. There are some things you can do right away that will have an impact on your productivity and morale. Some of these tasks may require more effort and planning, but they’ll also have a significant effect on the workplace.

1. Adopt Activity-Based Working

In an activity-based working situation, there wouldn’t be any desks or cubicles; instead, each department may have its own area where the members of that business role can congregate, share work, and hold meetings.

No single employee has a dedicated workstation so they can sit where they want and work however they like. This type of working promotes freedom and positivity in the workplace. It also encourages collaboration and relationships, which helps improve morale.

2. Use IoT Sensors

We live in a world where we measure every little click, eyeball, and movement at all times. You can do this in your office as well. Measure the space in the office for utilization purposes to make sure you’re making the most out of every square foot.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t always mean putting more people, desks, chairs, or anything into the office. It simply means finding the right people, giving them the right space to work, and allowing them to do their job in a way that is comfortable and effective for them.

Occupancy sensors collect data to show you the most underutilized areas in your office. When you find out what departments aren’t making the most of their space, you can find a way to swap people around and make positive changes to the environment.

Learn more about the role of sensors in planning your space.

3. Accept Feedback

Who better to get input from than the people who inhabit this environment every day. Your employees and fellow team members will give you everything you need to know to improve your space utilization.

Go around and have employees fill out an anonymous survey based on their department. This feedback will help you determine where you need to make changes and how each department views their productivity.

You may find that one department of the office believes that everything is fine and they are happy working in space office cubicles. Another department may find it more beneficial to work in an open environment with couches and work from home opportunities. You’ll never know if you don’t open up the dialogue and ask for feedback.

A proper working environment is essential for productivity and morale in 2020 and beyond. Space utilization software helps you create a better workplace while also making the most of your overhead dollars.

Read our e-book on how you can reduce costs through space optimization.

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