Four ways to monitor employees to determine your ideal space utilization strategy

Determining how much office space you need can be a daunting task during the real estate process. Office build-outs continue to change as employees become more mobile, open plan concepts become more desirable, and companies take a closer look at how to enable employee productivity using the work environment.

Before identifying your overall footprint, it is a valuable exercise to determine what space plan is best for you as each plan dramatically changes the amount of square footage needed per employee. Should you choose an activity based open plan with fully assigned workstations, a hybrid mobility with a mix of assigned and unassigned workstations, or a full mobility plan with fully unassigned workstations? Should you build in a large conference rooms or multiple collaboration rooms that take up less square footage? Should you considering keeping spaces mobile so they can be utilized as workstations at one time but meeting areas at another time? All options can be successful if chosen correctly. So how do you choose? The following are four ways to monitor your employee activity to inform how to build out your office space to meet your employees’ needs.

  1. Measuring: This method is great for companies who currently utilize a space plan with fully assigned workstations. Monitoring relies on the human eye to identify how many employees are around on a given day and time. It is an easy way to tell which spaces are being used and which aren’t but can possibly be re-purposed into other uses.
  2. Monitoring: This method is valuable for companies with a current hybrid mobility space plan. Monitoring captures hard data via desk sensors or employee badge scanning to evaluate which employees utilize their assigned desk space and what non-assigned areas of the office are used the most, and by whom.
  3. Passive manipulation: This method is used by companies who want to smartly react to people’s encounters with space to make spaces more comfortable and convenient for employees. Passive manipulation uses advanced building management systems and sensors to change the heating and lighting levels of spaces once people enter and exit them. The management systems capture data to also evaluate how much space is being used and when.
  4. Active manipulation: This method is great for companies with a high percentage of mobile employees who tend to move around the office, use whatever space is best for them at any time, and actively manipulate those environments to best suit their real-time needs. Active manipulation uses real-time location analysis via social networks and mobile applications to evaluate how employees use the space and how it can better suit them.

All levels of monitoring can provide valuable insight to ensure your company provides its employees with a build-out that is best for the type of work they execute. However, it’s important to evaluate the right monitoring approach for your company before you begin. If you’re a start-up, chances are you don’t have the capital to invest in high technology to capture data, nor may you want to as it’s likely your office needs will change as you grow. If you’re a mature company, investing in data solutions could pay off. 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.

Matthew Coxhead

Author: Matthew Coxhead

Matthew Coxhead is an Executive Vice President at the JLL Phoenix office, where he specializes in representing tenants in office leasing transactions. Through his relationships with corporations both locally and nationally, he guides his clients through their most important real estate decisions.

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