Workplace by the Numbers: How to Calculate Office Space and Meeting Room Utilization
It happens once a week. Every Sunday you receive a notification alerting you of your “Screen Time” or “Digital Wellbeing” from the past week. This brief report outlines a few key metrics around your phone (or device) usage compared to past weeks.
For many users, this functionality acts as a wake-up call.
“I looked at my social media for ___ hours last week??!! What am I doing with my life??”
Something along those lines.
It’s difficult to possess the level of self-awareness to really know how you interact with a device you use all day, every day, making this small report rather staggering despite receiving it on a weekly basis.
In general, people like to think they know themselves and how they interact with the world around them. However, in reviewing behavioral data, it’s evident there’s a difference between how people think they act and how they actually act.
The workplace is no different. Employees tend to think they’re using their office in one way when really, they’re using it completely differently. This is where calculating office space and meeting room usage comes into fact-check for us.
A quick hypothetical:
Employee’s self-report of their office usage:
- Conference rooms are never available when I need them!
- I absolutely need my own desk. I do all my work there!
- I use the office golf simulator every day!
Utilization report of actual office usage:
- The busiest time for meetings is Wednesdays between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (which is when everyone tries to schedule their meetings).
- Employees are at their desks only 40% of the day on average with some using their desks only 10% of a normal workday.
- The $18K golf simulator is the most underutilized space in the office
While important to consider their input, employees aren’t always the most reliable source to understand workplace space usage. Office space utilization data acts as a wake-up call for office managers to know if they’re wasting office space, investing in the wrong kind of work stations or reaching a capacity boiling point.
There are key performance indicators all office managers should monitor in order to stay informed on whether or not they’re maximizing their office space utilization. We’ll outline how to calculate each of these metrics and what they illuminate in terms of workplace efficiency.
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1. Usage: Does your office have enough meeting space?
Imagine every conference room in your office was booked every hour of every day creating a perfect Tetris puzzle of neatly stacked schedules. 100 percent utilization. Impossible right? We’ve found that for most offices, ideal utilization occurs when meeting spaces are booked 40-60% of the time.
This percentage of utilization represents core business hours when people are scheduling their meetings during the workday. More than 40-60% could mean the only meeting slot available is on Friday at 4 PM or it could mean not having the flexibility to hop in a room for an ad-hoc conversation since all rooms are booked.
Measuring your own office usage lets you know whether you’re in that sweet spot, or veering towards an unmanageable standard. Office space usage is calculated for a period of time by dividing the total number of reserved meeting room hours by the total potential hours within the work day or work week (assuming an 8 hour work day and 40 hour work week).
A closer look:
Calculating and monitoring office space usage is key to help correctly time an office move, expansion or transition into a more elastic work model. Tracking how the utilization changes over time in comparison to the target utilization rate of 40-60% is incredibly helpful when it comes to anticipating how office size needs to respond to a growing or shrinking headcount, for example.
2. Density: When is the office busiest?
You can look around your office and depending on the time of day, meeting rooms could be jam-packed with sprint reviews, brainstorms and interviews or…. absolutely void of all life. Monitoring traffic or meeting density in the office helps calls out scheduling bottlenecks throughout the week and times of day when colleagues find it more difficult to find a meeting room, and when resources are plentiful. This data is calculated by taking the utilization data and breaking it down by the hour throughout the week.
Understanding whether your office is truly cramped for space, or if some schedule adjustments -- such as meeting days, times or locations -- might help alleviate some of the calendar crunch. Maybe recurring meetings are clogging up the calendar? Monitoring meeting space traffic helps inform when change management tactics like policies or guidelines could save you from expanding to a new space too early.
3. Fit: Are spaces and events well matched?
Are people reserving the right space for their meetings? Or just any space? Calculate meeting fit by comparing the capacity of the space with the number of invitees who either indicated they’d be attended or never explicitly declined the meeting invite. For example, the chart below helps you understand if meetings are being booked in the appropriate spaces based on the size of the room and the number of attendees.
Calculating meeting fit can also help you understand whether or not you have the right combination of spaces that your employees need. Are two people meetings consistently being held in large conference rooms? Maybe you need more ad-hoc break out spaces, or two-person pods to accommodate for the excess of low attendee meetings. Or, maybe you need to establish a policy for meeting room scheduling to teach employees what type of meetings are appropriate for the specific spaces in your office.
4. Popularity: Which spaces in the office are most popular?
Breaking down which spaces in the office are booked most frequently makes it clear which spaces are employees ‘favorites’ and which tend to go underutilized. Calculate meeting space popularity by tracking the number of meetings per room over the course of a certain amount of time. Factor in the occupancy rate and capacity utilization rate of the room to add more nuances to your popularity analysis.
Of course, it’s helpful to know which spaces your employees tend to use but the real informative insights come once you look into what kind of rooms tend to be most popular. What kind of equipment is in the most popular rooms? What type of room is the most popular: Brainstorm? Conference room? Huddle zone? Once you analyze the popularity of your meeting spaces, employee preference speaks for itself and you know where to invest your office spend.
As surprising as they may be, numbers don’t lie. Office space utilization calculations can act as a wake-up call for any for anyone thinking about their company's workplace experience to really understand how employees work in the office, not how they think they work or may appear to be working.
Of course, there are other insights to calculate and analyze besides usage, density, fit and popularity. Want to dig into more office data? You can with Robin. Get started with a free trial here.