25 Oct 2020

Introduction to Workplace Utilization Metrics

The year 2020 has gotten us rethinking office spaces. To have remote employees, to rent office space, to have your own meeting rooms or outsource them… these concepts are all in question.

Even so, some businesses can’t function without office spaces. For those companies who need their own office real estate, why not clean up your usage?

Just like flexible workspaces are now all the rage, for the past three decades collaboration has been hyped up. Collaboration has been such a bit hit that, particularly in the United States, too much collaboration space has been built.

Poor space utilization costs businesses upward of millions of dollars every year. For the most part, office meeting rooms only utilize 45 percent of the room’s capacity. That’s a lot of wasted space and dollars. And even now, talking with our customers we see their office capacity being down to 50%. Translating this to meeting room standards, there’s still some space for space utilization. 

No matter the current and future state, large boardrooms will always be needed as well as smaller huddle spaces. So, how do you find out what your company needs? How do you capitalize on your real estate?

Determining the number and sizes of meeting rooms your company needs requires measurements of your space utilization and occupancy numbers.

Space density

Unbelievably, over 30 percent of the time, meeting rooms are booked for use by a single person—a single occupant. That’s inefficient even when complying with the social distancing guidelines. 

A case study in Japan showed that, before COVID-19, individual offices had a utilization average between 27 to 36 percent on average. More often than not, employees were either away from their desks collaborating with teammates or finding quiet niches to work in. Nowadays, collaboration was replaced with flexibility. A flexible workspace, contrary to a collaborative workplace, has unutilized desks for days or even weeks. 

Space utilization

When we say capitalize on your real estate, believe it or not, we don’t mean every room should be in use 100 percent. In fact, “the optimal level of space utilization for meeting areas should be between 40 to 60 percent.” Anything more than that and your employees will struggle to find available meeting spaces when they need them, and there will be a possibility of covid exposure. 

However, If your utilization rate is below 40 percent, you should consider whether you have too much real estate invested in meeting rooms. It’s likely that you could repurpose some of that poorly utilized space or even switch your offices for smaller ones. 

On a similar note, room utilization may not be a structure or availability problem at all. In one case, a large organization was preparing to increase the number of their large meeting rooms by tenfold. This decision was based on employees reporting a lack of available meeting rooms when they made to book one. Looking further into the issue, the company discovered that the problem was largely because employees would book the meeting room but then fail to use it. In this case, educating the employees on better practices and using a meeting room booking system, rather than restructuring, is the solution to the poor utilization of the meeting rooms.

Space popularity

When you analyze your space utilization, don’t forget to take into account days of the week and peak periods of the day. The usage throughout the week changes based on the day. Sometimes wholes teams are scheduled to work from the office, but often times employees can choose by themselves (leaving Fridays as the least popular option). 

Not to mention, take into account which rooms are most booked and which ones are being used to their capacity. Rooms that are seldom booked or used to less than 30 percent of their capacity could be divided or repurposed, depending on your employees’ needs.

Again, you can try to go off of other company’s statistics, or even the average statistics online, but only learning your company’s own statistics can perfect your workspace.

Measuring your workspace

To measure your workspace’s space density, utilization, and popularity, you’re going to need access to a few factors:

  • How frequently is the room/desk used?
  • What’s the room’s capacity?
  • What’s the average number of attendees invited (or the average number of employees in one office)?
  • How many people show up to the meeting?
  • What times of the day is the room most booked?
  • What days is the room booked the most?

So, how do you collect this data? Investing in a meeting room booking system is a good place to start.

Joan isn’t only a power-efficient, sleek meeting room booking system. It’s a solution that not only assists with booking meeting rooms and making sure the room’s schedule is readily available, but also provides room metrics. With Joan, you can see the popularity of a room—how many times it was booked. Additionally, Joan knows when meetings take place, and how many invitees there were to each meeting.

Additionally, you should also keep track of shared desks, if you have a flexible office. Learning how heavily used shared desks are, you can learn whether or not you need to rearrange your workspace.

Remember, when it comes to booking rooms, and shared desks for that matter, you want an average of 40 to 60 percent space utilization. Anything more and your employees might struggle with availability and their health may be at risk. Once you have the data-gathering tools you need to analyze your bookable spaces, you’ll be a huge step closer to transforming your workspace, saving thousands to millions on underused real estate.