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How to Benchmark Your Office Space Utilization

benchmark space utilization, space utilization, workplace leaders
The Robin Team
Published on

Workplace leaders want to understand how their office utilization metrics compare with other organizations. Are they leading the pack in efficiency or lagging behind competitors? And if they’re laggards, what can they do to move their office utilization metrics forward? 

This blog post will help workplace leaders get better at measuring what matters most to them, their workplace strategy. Benchmarking comes under the umbrella of measurement: it’s a useful business process whereby you compare your organization’s performance in a specific area/metric against the performances of similar companies in order to identify potential gaps in performance that need to be addressed. 

For example, if your employee turnover rate is 20%, do you have a problem? Well, if you benchmark your rate and discover that the average employee turnover rate within your industry is 33%, you’re actually outperforming most of your peers. Benchmarking tells you where you are relative to others.

What is Office Space Utilization?

Before the pandemic, office space utilization was a fairly straightforward equation for most organizations: one person, one assigned desk and chair. The pandemic dismantled that office paradigm. Today’s office is part of a hybrid work ecosystem that seeks to provide flexible, configurable office space solutions to address people’s multiple, evolving needs.

Office space utilization, sometimes called office space occupancy, is a metric that refers to the number of employees in a particular space divided by the capacity of that space, typically expressed in square footage. This metric is integral to understanding how office space is being used, helping workplace leaders and their organizations:

  • Manage costs more efficiently. Office space is typically the second largest business expense, after employee compensation.
  • Improve the employee experience with better office design that’s responsive to people’s needs/preferences.
  • Make data-driven decisions regarding design, office layouts, and real estate portfolios.

Office space utilization refers to the way in which a workspace is used and occupied by employees, equipment, and other resources. It is an important aspect of workplace management that can have a significant impact on productivity, employee satisfaction, and real estate costs.

Effective office space utilization involves optimizing the use of available space to support the needs of employees and the organization. This can include factors like desk space, meeting rooms, and common areas, as well as the way in which employees interact with and utilize these spaces.

There are several metrics that can be used to measure office space utilization, including:

  • Occupancy rate: This measures the percentage of available space that is currently being used by employees.
  • Desk utilization: This measures the percentage of desks that are being used at any given time.
  • Meeting room utilization: This measures the percentage of available meeting rooms that are being used at any given time.
  • Space utilization index: This measures the overall efficiency of a workspace by comparing the total usable area of the workspace to the actual space being used.

Optimizing office space utilization involves a variety of strategies, including:

  • Implementing flexible work arrangements: This can include remote work options or flexible work hours to reduce the number of employees in the office at any given time.
  • Redesigning office space: This may involve reconfiguring workstations or common areas to better support employee needs and improve space utilization.
  • Implementing technology solutions: This can include the use of occupancy sensors or other technology to track space utilization metrics and identify areas of inefficiency.
  • Encouraging collaboration: By encouraging employees to collaborate and work together, organizations can optimize the use of shared spaces and reduce the need for individual workstations.

Effective office space utilization is critical to the success of any organization. By optimizing the use of available space, organizations can reduce real estate costs, improve productivity, and create a more positive and productive work environment for employees.

Benchmarking Office Space Utilization Metrics

There are many sources of CRE industry data to support benchmarking efforts. We’d like to suggest using our Hybrid Work Index, which is the only one of its kind on the market. We track global hybrid trends around weekly desk space utilization, monthly office visit frequency, bounce rates (people coming into the office and not returning for 30 days or more), and other key office utilization metrics. You can deploy our tracking data to benchmark against the metrics you’re monitoring for your organization. 

Benchmarking can be a great tool for analyzing and iterating your workplace strategy. You can’t improve what you don’t measure, and you’ll definitely want to measure, benchmark, and improve your office space utilization. That requires having the relevant data, which Robin can provide.

A benchmarking example. Let’s assume your employees are visiting your office 2.53 times per week in March and your weekly desk utilization (the percentage of available desks being used) is 35%. How do your March metrics compare to other companies? Our global hybrid trends tracker shows that North American companies had an average of 1.56 employee visits per week (for the week of March 6, 2023), with a weekly (desk) utilization rate of 22%. So once you’ve benchmarked your metrics, the results actually look positive (with room for improvement, of course).

Actionable Advice on Office Space Utilization Benchmarks

By equipping your offices with the right balance of dynamic seating options, including bookable workspaces, collaborative spaces, and meeting rooms, companies can improve their office space utilization performance, while also improving their day-to-day workplace experience and productivity. The office and the tools you use to make it accessible to your people should eliminate the friction and hassle of coming in. Robin exists to make the office more accessible.

Why to Benchmark Office Space Utilization for Workplace Planning

Benchmarking your office utilization is important for workplace planning for several reasons:

  1. Identify Areas of Inefficiency: Benchmarking your office space utilization allows you to identify areas of inefficiency and waste in your space usage. This can help you make data-driven decisions about how to optimize your space and improve overall workplace efficiency.
  2. Optimize Space Usage: By benchmarking your office space utilization, you can identify opportunities to optimize space usage and reduce underutilized areas. This can help you save on real estate costs and increase the overall productivity of your workplace.
  3. Improve Employee Satisfaction: A well-designed and optimized office space can have a positive impact on employee satisfaction and well-being. By benchmarking your office space utilization, you can identify areas of improvement that can lead to a more positive and productive workplace.
  4. Support Business Growth: As your business grows and evolves, your space needs may change. Benchmarking your office utilization allows you to monitor and adjust your space usage over time to support your business growth and adapt to changing needs.
  5. Make Informed Decisions: Benchmarking your office space utilization provides you with data-driven insights that can inform workplace planning decisions. This can help you make informed decisions about real estate investments, office design, and workplace policies.

Overall, benchmarking your office space utilization is a critical component of workplace planning. By using data to optimize your space usage, you can create a more productive, efficient, and employee-friendly workplace that supports your business goals.

How Can You Detter Utilize Your Office Space? 

Every organization is different, so what works for X likely won’t work for Z. The answer depends upon what your organization does, how your people want to work, as well as the physical space and assets (furniture, equipment, budget, etc.) you have available to support people. Workplace technology like Robin should also be part of the equation. 

You need to analyze (and keep revisiting) all of these considerations as you develop your workplace strategy and consider your plans for office space management. By the way, it helps to have an experienced, expert workplace partner who not only provides tools, but insights and advice too.

Once your workplace strategy is formalized, you’ll need to continually deploy workplace analytics to see how your strategy is performing. Office utilization will remain an important metric, and you should be benchmarking it, but you’ll also need a holistic view of what’s happening with your workplace, one that only a workplace experience platform can provide you with.

What Are The Best Space Utilization Metrics for Workplaces?

There are several utilization metrics that can be used to measure and improve workplace efficiency. All of these indicators help improve potential plans for office space management. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Occupancy rate: This is the percentage of space that is currently being used by people. It is calculated by dividing the number of people in the space by the total available space.
  2. Desk utilization: This measures how often desks are used throughout the day. It is calculated by dividing the number of people using desks by the total number of desks available.
  3. Meeting room utilization: This measures how often meeting rooms are used. It is calculated by dividing the number of hours meeting rooms are booked by the total number of hours they are available.
  4. Space utilization index: This metric takes into account both occupancy and utilization rates to provide an overall picture of space efficiency. It is calculated by dividing the total occupied space by the total available space.
  5. Walk-through traffic: This measures the frequency and routes of movement throughout the workplace. It can help identify areas of congestion and potential bottlenecks.
  6. Energy use per square foot: This metric measures the amount of energy consumed per unit of space. By reducing energy consumption, workplaces can reduce their environmental footprint and save on energy costs.

Ultimately, the best utilization metrics for your workplace will depend on your specific goals and needs. It may be helpful to consult with a workplace strategist or design professional to identify the most relevant metrics for your organization. Office space management tools can also be of significant use here.

8 Tips for Better Office Space Management

Here are some effective tips for better office space management:

  1. Evaluate your current space: Before making any changes, evaluate your current space to understand how it is being used and identify areas of inefficiency. This can be done through surveys, interviews, and observations.
  2. Prioritize flexibility: Design your office space with flexibility in mind to accommodate changing business needs. This can include modular furniture, movable walls, and adjustable lighting.
  3. Use technology to optimize space: Use technology to manage and optimize space usage. This can include sensors to track occupancy, room booking systems, and space management software.
  4. Encourage collaboration: Create spaces that encourage collaboration and communication among employees. This can include open-plan work areas, breakout spaces, and meeting rooms.
  5. Maximize natural light: Natural light has been shown to increase productivity and overall well-being. Design your space to maximize natural light by removing barriers to windows and using light-colored surfaces to reflect light.
  6. Embrace greenery: Plants have been shown to improve air quality and reduce stress levels. Incorporate greenery into your office space through plants, living walls, or vertical gardens.
  7. Manage clutter: Clutter can decrease productivity and increase stress levels. Encourage employees to keep their workspace tidy and provide ample storage space to minimize clutter.
  8. Incorporate employee feedback: Engage with your employees and incorporate their feedback into your office design. This can help create a more productive and enjoyable workplace.

By implementing these tips, you can create an office space that is optimized for productivity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.

Office Space Management is Critical to Workplace Success

Your company’s real estate isn't just your second-largest expense: it’s also one of your most valuable business resources. Your office and space management system directly impact your company culture, while supporting the productivity, teamwork, and overall experience of your people. You can’t afford to waste it: instead, you should be making the office as easy for your people to access and utilize as possible. Focus on effective space management  in your office and you'll set your teams up for success.

Did you know, for example, that 87% of organizations have already implemented room and desk reservation tools? Those tools are just part of our comprehensive workplace solution.

Start tracking better space utilization metrics with Robin today, for Free.

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Does your office collaboration need a reboot?

Find out if your workplace strategy is a hit or a miss.

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an employee headshotan employee headshotan employee headshotan employee headshot