When it comes to office management, it's important to have the right metrics in place to help you make the best decisions for your business. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the most important space utilization metrics and explain how they can be used in decision making.
Capacity is a central metric to facilities and office managers alike, providing oversight of how many employees can feasibly use the work environment at any given time. Whereas occupancy indicates the degree to which the total space is being used. Occupancy therefore is a simple calculation; actual number of people divided by maximum amount of people (capacity). For example, if capacity is 1000 employees, and the actual number of employees in the office is 450, the occupancy is 40%. It is useful to monitor and analyse occupancy trends to make informed decisions about actual space requirements, especially for hybrid offices.
Average Peak Utilisation can be extracted from analysing the occupancy trends as mentioned above. This metric can be determined by calculating the mean percentage of usage peaks in a given time period. This calculation can be configured based on the parameters that make sense for your business, but an example of how one might determine this is to analyse the highest occupancy percentage each week in Q1, add the percentages together and divide by 12 [weeks]. In this example, if the Average Peak Utilisation is 68% and this further reduces quarter on quarter, as many offices are experiencing, re-examination of the commercial real estate requirements may be required, and savings could in-turn be realised by a move to a smaller office.
This method can also be used to calculate the average lowest utilization of the space. It would be useful to consider comparing the hours within the day and the days of the week the peaks and troughs are occurring, as rearranging the ‘in-office’ schedule for teams may be required.
Offices who are shifting to hybrid working arrangements often choose one of two approaches: allocate a pool of hot-desks and workstations that can be used by any employee who chooses to come into the office or allocate these reservable resources per department. Regardless, space popularity should be monitored to ensure a smoothly functioning hybrid office.
In the first instance, where there is no departmental division, the office or facilities manager should pay attention to the trends of which assets are being utilised more frequently than others. If there is a significant discrepancy in usage, consider which features are available on the desks being chosen over others, the frequency of use by certain teams or combinations of colleagues, and other environmental factors such as proximity to other spaces, lighting, etc. This evaluation can be strengthened by conducting employee surveys, which can ultimately assist space planning and decision making when purchasing office resources.
In a hot desking space divided by department, function, or team, discrepancies may be identified over time based on the group’s needs for meeting face-to-face, technical/resource needs, or social dynamic. The same space popularity considerations mentioned above should be considered even with departmental division, however the office/facilities manager should monitor the occupancy levels per department, coordinate with department leaders, and potentially reallocate based on occupancy trends as required.
Traditionally, the cost per person metric could be calculated by comparing the office lease cost per square foot/meter to the space allocated to each staff member (the density of the space varies tremendously between businesses and sectors). However, this calculation requires an additional step for a hybrid office; to calculate this broadly, the office/facilities manager will need to multiply the traditional cost per person by the occupancy percentage. For example, if the average cost per employee per month is $800, and the occupancy is 65%, the actual cost for the employee’s office space is $520 per month, leaving the remaining $280 as a sunk cost. This is an important metric to consider when making decision around space purchasing and hybrid working arrangements.
Lastly, with all type of flexible office arrangements, there can be any number of configurations of permanent desk allocations to hot desks. A more traditional office may opt to have 80% of their employees allocated to their own desk and make 20% of hot desks available to remote employees, compared to a completely hybrid office which may have 95% hot desks to 5% allocated (for front desk receptionists for example). Regardless of the arrangement, adding a check-in process to desks can allow the office/facilities manager to have oversight over the success of arrangement. For example, if more than half of the employees who are permanently assigned a desk are opting to work from home 2 days a week or more, it may be reasonable to increase the ratio of hot desks compared to assigned desks or consider desk sharing for those with alternate schedules.
From the experience of the team at OfficeMaps, a global workspace management software provider, these are the top metrics/tips for space utilization you should consider when transitioning to a hybrid arrangement. This being said, it also may be worth considering:
OfficeMap’s Professional plan includes the reporting functionality to extrapolate these metrics and create custom reports. With space utilization metric being more important and challenging to monitor than ever, OfficeMaps is dedicated to building the tools required to make this whole process easier.
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