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How to Use Office Utilization Reports

employees in an office with an overlay of reporting on office data
The Robin Team
Published on

As business leaders across industries know, a data-driven company culture pays off. Data insights help drive innovation, boost productivity, and enhance both employee satisfaction and customer experiences, to name a few.

After embracing a data-forward approach to improve various parts of their business, more workplace leaders are doing so to optimize their office plans. After all, office design and space planning are key to ensuring a modern workplace experience and productive work environment. 

Even as more people return to the office, offices are getting smaller. According to Robin’s The Office Space Report 2023, 80% of offices have downsized since the pandemic, and 75% of businesses plan to reduce their office spaces in 2024. This shift likely haunts the 80% of executives who made their return-to-office decisions based on intuition, according to CNBC. In fact, they say they would have taken a different approach if they better understood office attendance and amenity usage.

Making smart decisions about addressing these and related trends while enabling employees to work effectively is where office space utilization analysis and reports come into play.

Make everything frictionless for employees when they make their way into the office, from booking desks to coordinating in-person days.

What is an Office Utilization Report?

An effective office space utilization report summarizes how office space and resources are being used, by whom, and how often. Office utilization insights help surface when the office is under-occupied and over capacity and whether resources are being used optimally. A number of employees may struggle to focus in crowded spaces. On the other hand, under-occupied offices might limit collaboration. To make matters worse, the company is paying for unused space.

Simply put, office space utilization refers to how well an organization’s workspace is being used to support employee productivity and business goals. In turn, they empower workplace leaders to make changes that optimize office space management and the employee experience while reducing real estate costs – an important, ongoing task in today’s continually evolving workplace.

A good office space utilization report presents this data and important metrics clearly and visually via charts and graphs rather than simply providing it in raw form—such as in a. CSV file. By analyzing this information, IT and facility managers quickly arrive at valuable, actionable insights that empower them to optimize office space utilization. Such understanding helps shape decisions on everything from real estate portfolios and office design to hybrid workplaces and resource booking policies.

Office utilization reports help you better understand how your office, and it's resources, are actually being used.

How to Measure Office Space Utilization

Arriving at a comprehensive view of office space utilization requires data from multiple sources. To measure office utilization, organizations can track occupancy rates per square foot, meeting room schedules, conference room usage, room booking usage, and desk utilization, to name a few.

Whether data measuring office space utilization is gathered via occupancy sensors, thermal sensors, workplace analytics tools, space management software, and/or employee surveys, organizations typically monitor the following office space utilization metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Office space utilization rates by floor and by department, by day and at average peak
  • Office attendee rate (by the entire organization, specific teams/functions, and/or by individuals – both employees and visitors)
  • Office resource utilization rates (for example, desk and room bookings)
  • Office retention rate by location and space
  • Frequency of office use, including point-in-time and peak occupancy trends
  • Peak and low usage times (such as by day and time of year by space)
  • Activities conducted by office space and square footage

By tracking office space utilization data and relevant metrics, comprehensive reports that deliver a solid view into what is happening within the workspace can be generated. That means understanding everything from attendance, resource usage, and attrition to how private spaces, open spaces, and shared spaces are used and by whom.

While a good workplace analytics tool will crunch all these numbers behind the scenes, it can help to understand what’s behind these office space utilization metrics. For instance, office space utilization rate is a number of employees ÷ total workplace capacity, while the occupancy rate is the total space occupied ÷ total space available. The first gives a sense of space utilization, and the second provides insight into whether your workspace is too empty or too crowded.

Workplace stakeholders should be regularly reviewing their office utilization reports so they can make data-driven decisions about the office.

Say your office can accommodate 1,000 but only 400 employees on average are on site. Your office space utilization  is 40%. If your office space spans 5,000 square feet but employees spend time in just half that space, the occupancy rate for that square footage is 50%. This provides a view into how much space is left empty compared to total occupied space.

The office space utilization rate is the baseline for understanding office space usage and utilization by square footage. Layering the additional space utilization metrics on top of it, you get a far better sense of where you can make changes and improvements.

What to Do With Your Office Data 

So how do you turn this data into action? By visualizing timely, accurate office space utilization metrics, you can spot utilization trends and identify ways to improve the work environment and office space management. Detailed, relevant data and utilization metrics on actual usage of the office and resources form the foundation for facilities managers and space planners to make data-driven decisions about workplace strategy, such as:

  • Automatically releasing conference rooms that are booked but not used
  • Consolidating or repurposing underused areas – or increasing density in underutilized space to optimize occupancy levels
  • Encouraging more use of underused collaborative spaces
  • Expanding certain areas or resources based on high usage
  • Better equipping departments or roles that meet frequently
  • Budgeting for future real estate needs based on growing space usage
  • Optimizing real estate costs by square footage and occupancy rate

Let’s dive deeper into three specific examples.

Better accommodate employee preferences

By understanding which office areas and resources are used the most – from floors to rooms and desks – you can equip your spaces appropriately in line with occupancy rates. Let’s assume you’ve set up each office floor to balance personal workspaces with meeting rooms. Through your office utilization report, you see that certain floors are used more frequently and, simultaneously, that most meetings take place on those floors. You also see that meeting rooms without video conferencing equipment typically are used far less than those equipped with it.  

In response, you could choose to reserve that floor for meetings and reconfigure other floors to accommodate more desks and workstations instead. With space divided in this way, you can better serve a range of employee requirements. At the same time, to boost the occupancy rate, you could equip more meeting rooms with video conferencing equipment – or repurpose underutilized meeting rooms.

When you're in the office, sitting near other people is critical. If you're on floor 2 and your team is on floor 1 then you may as well be in different countries.

Optimize the hybrid workplace

If, like many businesses, yours is a hybrid workplace, you know employees use the office and its resources some days but not others. But knowing precisely when usage peaks and ebbs by space is key to optimizing workplace utilization and in office work productivity. Continuing with the meeting room theme above, imagine that your office utilization report shows most meetings happen on Tuesday and Thursday and that desk check-ins are low on those days.

That insight might trigger you to update your hybrid work schedule so that employees overlap on Tuesdays and Thursdays, making it easier for more people to collaborate in person. Taking such a step to encourage collaboration is a smart move considering that in-person collaboration yields more business breakthroughs than collaboration amongst far-flung participants, according to research published in the Journal Nature in November 2023.

Or, to provide maximum flexibility, you could provide scheduling software that allows employees to see which days and times the office resources and space they need are available. 

You might also choose to replace some percentage of existing desk spaces with more meeting room spaces. Or you could update office layouts with modular options like moveable walls and portable furniture so employees can configure spaces as needed on the fly. At the same time, you could save money by closing off underused floors on “down” days.

Boost resource usage

Let’s say your office experiences a fairly high cancellation rate for its conference room bookings. While spaces get booked, they go unused – a wasteful and costly problem. By looking at related data from the office utilization report – such as workplace utilization by day, department, and individual – facilities managers can get to the bottom of the issue.

Armed with this data, they can speak to the relevant departments and individuals to better understand the reason for cancellations and, potentially, improvements. After making changes in response – such as equipping the rooms with newer technology and more seating options – facilities managers can monitor space utilization reports to see if the cancellation rate drops as a result.

Create a Better Office Based on Office Space Utilization

Optimizing usable office space and resources in the modern workplace is key to driving collaboration, fueling productivity, and realizing cost savings. Fortunately, space utilization metrics and reports provide the data and insights needed to reconfigure office design, address resource issues, and even reshape work policies and real estate decisions to support people in doing their best work most efficiently.

It's not just data but the way that data is presented that helps offices act on trends in the analytics.

Whether to confirm you are on the right track or to course correct, office space utilization reports are the guidance system you need to create a workplace experience that helps both your employees and business thrive. Employees notice when their office space accommodates their needs, often leading to more in-office time and greater levels of engagement and employee satisfaction. Plus, by determining how to use your current space and resources most efficiently – and understanding future needs – your organization can save money on its real estate investments as it best serves employees.

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