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Office Utilization Insights: What Are They? And Why Do They Matter?

The Robin Team
Published on

The pre-pandemic concept of “the modern workplace” was once centered around people coming together five days a week in a sleek office building either downtown or in some suburban office park. That concept has completely changed for most companies. In fact, the modern workplace has never been more flexible and complex than it is right now.

Today’s organizations typically navigate a diverse mix of working models, including hybrid work, in-office work, and remote working, as well as different types of workspaces, which might include open-plan offices with hot desking and/or hoteling, home offices, or office cubicles as dedicated workstations. While people can be productive from almost anywhere, nearly everyone accepts the vital importance of the office to support people's coming together for the 4 C's:

  • Collaboration
  • Connection
  • Creativity
  • Culture-building

Managing workplace flexibility in an efficient and consistent manner, which is foundational for unlocking the value of the 4 C's, creates its own complex challenge for business leaders, who must constantly take in feedback and evolve their workplace strategies (including working models and floor plans) based on data-fueled insights.

When your organization has fragmented processes, apps, and data silos across multiple systems, the job of workplace leaders in optimizing their workplace/assets to unlock the 4 C's becomes mission impossible.

Keeping tabs on your workplace analytics helps inform decisions and empowers you to confidently plan.

Office Utilization Rates and Data Insights Drive Improvement

In order to make informed decisions about your commercial real estate and how your spaces are being used (i.e., your workplace strategy), you need real-time data you can trust, data that comes from a single source of truth (i.e., via a workplace platform).

It's time for office stakeholders to optimize their workspaces through the effective use of workplace data. In this post, we'll discuss how to collect workplace data across locations and systems so you can make smarter decisions about your office spaces. Doing this well requires smart investments in processes and technology tools, as well as capabilities around translating data-fueled insights into actions that improve your workspace utilization.

Understanding Office Space Utilization Metrics

Let’s begin by defining some foundational terminology. Data is information, while insight is relevant and useful analysis that’s based on information. Data supports insight, and insight supports “smart” decision-making (i.e., actionable insights). Data, by itself, is useless without an underlying context and strategy to make sense of it.

Utilization data can be collected in various ways, though most likely from workplace technology platforms, occupancy sensors, and/or employee surveys. Having the capability in place to collect and leverage workplace data is foundational for the success of any workplace strategy.

Office utilization insights refer to the data and analysis around how office space is used by your organization over time. These insights are derived from collecting data and monitoring various important metrics or key performance indicators/KPIs such as: 

  • Office utilization rates
  • Total floor space
  • frequency of office use (whether by the entire organization, by specific teams/functions, or by individuals), 
  • peak and low usage times (e.g., Friday’s occupancy might be 15% in the summer, while Wednesday's occupancy levels might be around 50%),
  • and the activities conducted in different areas of the office. 

By collecting and leveraging office utilization insights, workplace leaders can, through a process of iteration and optimization, create a more efficient and cost-effective office environment that ultimately leads to improved employee productivity, enhanced employee experience, and long-term talent retention.

Are teams sitting on the top floor with the best views? Or are people spread out across the building?

5 Benefits of Effectively Leveraging Office Utilization Insights

The significance of office utilization insights cuts across multiple areas where business value gets created, especially in optimizing workspaces and improving employee experience. Let’s examine some of those value-creating areas:

1. Space Optimization/Office Design

Office utilization insights can help you identify underutilized space and reallocate valuable office space to more popular uses. Once you’ve identified areas of your office that are seldom used, you can reconfigure the office layout and office design to create more usable space and better accommodate your people’s actual usage patterns.

For instance, you might have the wrong mix of meeting rooms for your organization’s needs. If you have four big conference rooms that can hold more than twelve people, but their utilization rate is 25%, you could probably reduce their number by half and reallocate the underutilized spaces to another use.

If your occupancy for smaller meeting spaces (four people or less per conference room) was 90% and you lacked enough smaller meeting spaces on some days, you could reconfigure one of those bigger meeting rooms into two or three smaller rooms, helping solve a problem and improving your office space utilization metrics.

2. Cost Savings: How Much Space Do You Really Need?

Why would you pay the overhead and carrying costs of underutilized office spaces that aren’t generating value and being used by your people? By optimizing corporate real estate through the use of office utilization insights, organizations and facility managers can drive cost-efficiency by reducing utility costs, rent/leasing costs, as well as maintenance costs related to office space.

In addition, optimizing your office space footprint, guided by office utilization insights, could give you the benefit of avoiding additional real estate costs, even as you grow your headcount, by making the best possible use of your existing workspace.

3. Intentional Design: Enhancing Productivity and Collaboration with Office Layout

When you use office utilization insights to tailor your workspace to accommodate your employees' evolving needs, that practice enhances employee productivity, increases people’s comfort, and reduces stress. In fact, the proximity of people in a given space can improve productivity. Just take a look at some of the data:

  • A Northwestern University study shows that sitting near a high-performing employee can make someone better at their job. The researchers found that when an employee sat within 25 feet of a high performer, that proximity -- independent of all other factors -- boosted job performance by 15%.
  • According to the National Library of Medicine, layout characteristics such as the percentage of floor space dedicated to shared services and amenities and the visibility across different spaces are associated with knowledge sharing.
  • Research by Harvard Business Review found that 90% of in-person interactions occur at people's desks. What's more? People on the same floor  were 6 times more likely to interact with their teammates and 9 times more likely to interact with different departments.

Seating arrangements and office layout planning aren't arbitrary decisions, they can have a major impact on bigger business performance. When you collect data from. office bookings you can better understand desk utilization, meeting room usage and other key pieces of information that  

It's not just a hunch, in-person work has a positive impact on performance.

4. Employee Satisfaction

We live in a world where flexible working arrangements are the norm rather than the exception. Office utilization insights can be leveraged to support that flexibility, giving office leaders real-time information about exactly how employees prefer to use the office. 

When employees see that their needs are being met over time and that their voices are being heard through the data, they respond with higher engagement and productivity. In addition, office utilization insights can help create an office environment that supports a healthy work-life balance by offering spaces that accommodate different working styles.

Offering a mix of spaces for collaboration, focused work, socializing/relaxing, and more helps employees find the space they need to support their work style. This creates a superior workplace experience that promotes in-office occupancy and full utilization rates.

5. Future Planning

When you can better understand your current office usage and measure space utilization, you have the foundation to plan your future workplace growth. You can use insights to pinpoint utilization trends that might lead to longer-term adjustments of your office footprint. Maybe you need more space, so decide to expand into a new floor. Maybe you need less space and decide to sub-let space to a third party, generating additional business revenue while continuing to meet the needs of your people.

In short, identifying trends in space usage can guide your organization’s long-term strategic decision-making regarding office space and the square footage it needs.

Keep an eye on future resource needs with data that enables to to predict coming needs.

Data-driven Decisions  Lead to Better Office Days

As we’ve seen above, office utilization insights play a critical role in optimizing workspace efficiency and driving better employee experiences by providing valuable data on how office spaces are being used. These insights allow organizations to eliminate underutilized areas, better allocate resources, and ensure that high-demand areas are adequately resourced.

By aligning office layouts with actual usage patterns, companies can lower overhead costs, make efficient use of real estate, and avoid unnecessary expenditures on additional space. An enhanced understanding of space usage, one provided by office utilization insights, also helps leaders create a work environment that boosts productivity, facilitates collaboration (and the other 3 C's of connection, creativity, and culture), and improves employee experience.

Ultimately, office utilization insights are indispensable for creating a cost-effective, efficient, and people-centered workspace that drives organizational success.

Robin provides the office utilization data you need to succeed. We can also assist you in implementing workspace changes to improve collaboration and productivity.

Two people walking and talking in an office

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Does your office collaboration need a reboot?

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

office map
an employee headshotan employee headshotan employee headshotan employee headshot