Everybody knows that the role of the office has shifted dramatically since the global pandemic began in early 2020. Workplace strategies have evolved to accommodate hybrid work while ensuring continued in-office connection, collaboration, and culture-building (i.e., the 3 Cs). The office will always be an essential locus for enabling those 3 Cs.
Getting space management right is an essential part of making the most of any commercial real estate (CRE), whether you’re a tenant or the owner of an enterprise CRE portfolio. For companies, CRE is typically their second highest business expense after only salaries and compensation.
Hybrid work, with its flexible schedules and shifting workplaces, has meant the office environment is no longer the default workplace. For property management teams, this is a major problem. Leaders in CRE are actively trying to protect their real estate portfolio and that means getting people back into office spaces. One of the primary factors in filling those empty buildings is better space management, let's explore.
Getting from Here to There with CRE
Fortunately for workplace leaders and CRE owners alike, having the right workplace experience platform in place can help your organization better accommodate hybrid work and your workplace strategy, while filling your company's physical space. The right workplace platform also enables you to understand exactly how your workspaces are being used today, so you can better address the needs of your stakeholders today and in the future.
Think of your workplace and office space management strategy as a map of where you want to go. Your workplace experience platform and office space management solutions are your vehicle’s dashboard pulling in and sharing all the relevant, real-time data you need to support your tenants and their people in getting from here to there.
Ultimately, your space optimization and management solutions give you visibility into what’s happening in your office spaces so you can better understand how to improve space utilization.
Defining Office Space Management in CRE
Empty or partially-occupied offices reduce the value of CRE and mean that property owners must work with tenants to better utilize spaces and save money. Empty offices and parking spaces are also employee experience killers that can cause talent retention challenges.
Strategic space management, then, is about continually monitoring and improving how tenants (and their people) are using a space, while also considering future space needs. When coupled with a workplace experience platform, space management can dramatically improve employee experience, people’s productivity, and the value/optimization of any CRE portfolio.
Good space management typically enables spaces to support multiple work environments, allowing spaces for collaboration, immersion, socializing, and more. A space management solution also includes a data-driven component that allows facilities managers or CRE teams to monitor and adjust their strategic plan for supporting tenants and their people.
5 Benefits of Space Management Tools for CRE
Space management offers a number of massive benefits: it can reduce costs, optimize spaces, and help build better (and more flexible) workplaces for tenants. Here are some key office space planning and management benefits:
1. Simplifies Portfolio Management and Lease Management
One of the most important priorities for CRE owners and managers is their ongoing relationships with tenants. As with any business, CRE leaders have a responsibility to add value to their customers, the people who pay for their spaces. When tenants do well, so do CRE owners.
When it comes to developing engagement strategies for tenants, workplace experience platforms help by providing actionable insights property owners can easily share with tenants. Getting into a regular practice of sharing analytics and utilization insights can not only help tenants increase their office utilization and engagement (and boost employee experience) but also helps foster stronger CRE owner and tenant relationships.
2. Improved Facility Planning
Space management software is always at the heart of good facility planning. Whether that planning is done by a full-time Facilities Manager or a CRE manager, or assigned to someone else, space management software becomes a critically important tool for doing the job of facility planning right.
The goal of facility planning is to not only recognize opportunities for efficiency, but to anticipate them as well. With the right space planning software, you can identify trends in utilization and then better plan for your needs moving forward. When facility managers have access to space usage data they can make more data-driven decisions around future space allocation and real estate management.
3. Cost Savings and Sustainability
The most important responsibility for any CRE manager is to ensure that the rent gets paid on time. No matter the size of your CRE portfolio, having all of your space data in one place, coming from a single, easy-to-use platform, makes managing your portfolio and lease costs easier. When you can share real time data and help your tenants, they become loyal tenants who pay the rent on time.
The right space management system can help your reduce real estate costs by giving you insight into what spaces aren't being used and empowering you to repurpose them. When you leverage space management software, you can get accurate space data for more strategic space planning.
4. Supports Flexible and Hybrid Working
Tenants need to make their people’s experience of coming into the office as simple and streamlined as possible. Making it easy to reserve office space and navigate around the office is an essential part of effective space management.
For example, workplace design firm Gensler found that most employees they surveyed perceived a lack of sufficient meeting rooms for their needs, yet only 42% of available meeting room space was actually being utilized. That’s problematic, both the mistaken perception and the space underutilization.
The best workplace experience platforms offer mobile apps that enable people to easily locate available office space (desks and meeting rooms) and book right from their phones. When using the Robin platform, for instance, employees are 2.5x more likely to come into the office. Workplace management software can improve the use of your physical spaces and ultimately positively impact your bottom line.
5. Future-Proofing Your Organization
A survey by global business consultancy EY found that 92% of CRE owners consider data analytics the single most important feature they want from their technology. Yet, only 35% of them have adopted or developed tools that provide data analytics – a massive gap of almost 60% between “want” and “have.”
Having access to timely, relevant data around what workspaces are being utilized (or not), the busiest times for in-office activities, and correlations between bookings and in-office events offers workplace leaders the action-oriented insights they need to create spaces that will actually be used. Leaders can use incoming data to help make real-time, responsive adjustments to workplace strategy and space management ensuring the continued success of their office space.
Space Management Software for Better Property Management
How can a CRE or facilities manager reap the benefits described above? The simple answer is space management software combined with the right workplace experience platform. This tech synergy helps CRE managers better own physical space, understand tenant occupancy rates and provide tenants with the data/analytics they need to engage their people.
Space planning software enables a CRE manager to monitor and control the physical inventory of space that’s available within a building/facility. The only way to optimize CRE value is by utilizing as much of the space as possible.
Space utilization data can be analyzed and shared to generate reports and floor plans that help tenants. Such data collection also supports planning and future growth. In the end, effective space management software boosts the value of your CRE portfolio and improves your tenant relationships.
What doesn’t work is managing your CRE portfolio with a shelf-full of three-ring binders that nobody wants to read or with Excel spreadsheets that are relics of the 1990s. Today’s CRE professionals require software that offers strategic space management tools to serve their needs and those of their tenants.
To learn even more, read The Role of Workplace Experience Platforms for CRE.