Keeping up with the ever-evolving workplace culture, technology, and space configurations can be a challenge, at times. Technology marches ahead exponentially and workplace dynamics are constantly mirroring many of the changes in society. Not to be outdone, offices are also being revamped to cater to the needs of new generation workers and their preferences, promoting greater efficiency, collaboration, and productivity. But, how can a business or organization make changes which aren’t too intrusive or alienating to a workforce, yet still maximize square footage and overall workflow?
Prior to developing a space management strategy, enterprises must first get a handle on existing people and places and how it’s affecting overall productivity and success. Are some portions of your workspace regularly left unused? Are you unable to provide and evaluate immediate, real-time space management metrics? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, it may be time to reevaluate your space utilization strategy.
When formulating your new strategy, collaborate with your workforce and management teams to answer these 5 questions:
1) How is Data Currently Collected, Evaluated, and Utilized?
When used and evaluated properly, derived metrics sketch out the big picture, offering management teams valuable information regarding space utilization, business assets, and processes. Unfortunately, many workplace managers are tasked with collecting data from multiple sources, leaving room for error and making it difficult to get a bird’s-eye view of what is happening in real time. How can you identify what can be improved upon and how, if you don’t have the information needed to support these changes?
To insure a space management strategy based on the most accurate data, ask yourself the following:
- What tools are we currently using to accumulate data?
- Once gathered, how are we using it?
- Are spreadsheets still a part of our everyday process?
Once you’ve answered these three basic questions, it’s time to examine your organizational processes on a deeper level.
2) How Dynamic Are Our Current Space Management Processes?
Change is the only constant in the modern day workplace. Businesses progress, employees move on, and new hires take their place. Because of this movement, organizations are in an ever-evolving state, requiring a certain level of flexibility and fluidity.
- When new hires come onboard or a team member needs to relocate to another department, who coordinates these events?
- How seamless is your current process?
- What data is your enterprise using to orchestrate these changes and how are you monitoring their effectiveness?
Many workplace leaders, architects, and designers are still relying on antiquated methods, such as spreadsheets, to collect and analyze their data. Your programming and forecasting software should be robust enough to merge disparate data into one centralized location. This, coupled with cloud-computing capabilities, ensures business decisions are made based on the most accurate, real-time data.
3) What Does Our Current Space Utilization Look Like?
Without a comprehensive understanding of your current situation, it becomes exponentially more difficult to plan for where you want to be. Historically, workspace designers allocated 250 square feet for each employee. Workplace innovations, however, have broken down traditional office barriers, allowing employees to work from virtually anywhere. As a result, organizations are seeing an increase in misallocated and underused spaces. Organizational and individual needs aren’t being met, which trickles down to every facet of the business. Employee productivity and wellness suffers, while businesses are seeing an increase in operational costs.
4) How Fluid and Flexible Is Our Current Office Design?
Enterprises meeting growth goals are often tempted to increase their square footage to match this progress. Workplace leaders caution against this strategy, however, instead encouraging an office redesign, with flexibility in mind. As you evaluate your space management strategy, focus on mobility, flexibility, and diversification. Coordinate with employees and HR to identify what business tools and workspace needs are still lacking, and reconfigure your space accordingly. Remember, the only constant in business is change. An office space built for flexibility is best equipped to handle the ever-evolving needs that come with this change.
5) What Workplace Culture Do We Want to Build and What Image Do We Want to Convey to the Public?
Whether we care to admit it or not, our office space tells a story. For employees, it conveys a message regarding company culture, organizational goals, and where the workforce fits into the equation. On the customer side, it’s a great tool for communicating the business’ vision and mission. When considering a new space management strategy, take a moment to define the enterprise’s short and long-term goals. What culture and behaviors do you want to foster? When a new client walks in the door, what lasting impression do you want to make?
Recent studies regarding workforce engagement indicate empowered employees are more loyal and productive, outperforming unengaged employees by a staggering 202%. Facilities Managers and designers are encouraged to collaborate with those who stand to gain (or lose) the most from this new management strategy. Find out which processes are in need of an overhaul, what business tools they are lacking, and what current strategies they feel should remain untouched (and why). Your organization’s two greatest investments are the workforce and the workspace. Unleash the true potential in both and everything else will fall into place.
Adjustments to an existing system which is successfully operating may seem risky or without merit. But, when framed with solid data and understanding of how streamlined work flow will change the dynamics of a business or organization, space management decisions become an easy sell. Not all businesses operate the same and not all spaces should be configured and used in the same ways.
Space management is the tool which maximizes potential and overall success, regardless of your space and business model. The consequences of not managing these variables can become disastrous, often leading to the eventual undermining and destruction of successful businesses. No matter the type of business, space management and workplace harmony are keys to a robust bottom line. And the benefits of implementing such systems far outweigh the alternatives.