What space utilization strategy is right for you?

Sensors aren’t the only—or the best—way to monitor how your office works. Find out which approach to utilization monitoring is best for your business.

March 30, 2017

Deciding on the right utilization monitoring strategy could be what helps your workplace (and your company) stand out from the crowd. When you have deep knowledge about how your space works, you gain a smarter layout, happier people and a better use of resources.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies find their investment backfires. They carry out expensive and unnecessary sensor studies that fail to meet business objectives, provide actionable information or generate savings.

Granted, the confusing landscape of tech-based monitoring tools makes it hard to pick. But don’t get caught up in shiny object syndrome. Your best option for measuring how your people work may be more straightforward than you think.

The key is matching the scope of your solution to your business objectives and implementation realities.

There are four levels of utilization monitoring. Choosing the right one for you will depend on your office’s current state, and knowing what information you need to gather in order to make your desired improvements. A key thing to remember is to walk before you run. Your monitoring techniques will grow along with you as your space strategy matures.

Level 1: Measuring

  • Who it’s for: Companies with offices that have one seat assigned to each person and more traditional environments. It’s ideal if you’re concerned about desk and office vacancy or over-crowding.
  • Tools to consider: The human eye.
  • What it solves for: How many people are around on a given day? At a given time? How much of our space is being used? What spaces are popular versus vacant?

Level 2: Monitoring

  • Who it’s for: Companies that have minimal vacancy in a traditional “names on seats” sense, but also use some level of desk sharing. It’s ideal when one person’s daily use of their space is becoming less important, but growth plans may lead to over-occupancy.
  • Tools to consider: Permanent desk sensors, WiFi triangulation, employee ID badge data.
  • What it solves for: How exactly is our current space being used? If people can work anywhere, where are they actually working? What spaces are being used the most? The least? And thus, what do we need more or less of?

Level 3: Passive manipulation

  • Who it’s for: Companies whose offices are starting to smartly react to people’s encounters with the space. Heating and lighting levels change when someone enters or exits a room, signs outside rooms show if they’re available or not, etc.
  • Tools to consider: Advanced building management systems, beacons, lighting sensors, close collaboration with IT.
  • What it solves for: How can we make our space more seamlessly convenient for our people? What changes can we make, seemingly in the background, to make our people more comfortable? How can we shape our office to anticipate and adapt to their needs, so they don’t have to worry about it?

Level 4: Active manipulation

  • Who it’s for: Companies with connected, dynamic offices. Your people are mobile—both within and outside of the office. They move around the office and use the space that’s best for them at any time, and actively manipulate those environments to best suit their real-time needs.
  • Tools to consider: Real-time location and social network data, mobile applications.
  • What it solves for: How can we empower our people to make the most of their space—and the space around them—at any time? How can they work with office environment to improve their experience, whether they’re in the office or not? Think Nest for your office.

Which level of utilization sounds most like your organization? The “right” approach will change as your workplace strategy evolves. Getting to the right solution right now just requires a bit of organizational self-awareness. Why do you need the data? What can you afford? And how will data be used?

Limit your scope and select the solutions that make sense for your goals and fall in line with your budget. Once you understand how employees actually use the space, you can tailor it to their workday and make a better case for change.