The space planning evolution: know the who, where and when to make the most of your buildings

Effective space planning helps you reduce costs and focus on employee wellbeing

Did you know that, on average, 30% of an organization’s space sits vacant on a typical working day? Another interesting fact: research has found that 77% of the time private offices are unoccupied. Given that real estate is often the second highest cost for an organization, those kind of numbers – and the money they represent – should make any organization stop and think about their space. That’s why today’s building professionals know that “space” is the next frontier in adding value to an organization. Why? IoT, of course.

Where we started

Obviously, “space” has always been at the heart of an organization’s real estate portfolio. Yet previously, if you were responsible for space, you (probably) knew how much you had to work with, who was (maybe) using it, and what it was (potentially) used for. On top of that, your information, limited though it might have been, was still difficult to pull together. It required a lot of manual analysis and spreadsheets. And it ran the risk of being out of date by the time you got it.

Not anymore. 

It’s not just hype to say that IoT is fundamentally changing the ways that buildings operate. The desire for smarter buildings – and the insights they contain – exists because these smart buildings allow building owners and operators to truly optimize their facilities. That’s also why facility management and space planning have evolved alongside the Internet of Things. It’s the search for ways to repurpose that unused space!

For space planning teams, this IoT evolution opens up whole new avenues of innovation. As sensors come down in price and introduce new capabilities, IoT delivers the insights for better space management, in near real time. For example, now an organization can capture badge or WI-FI data, occupancy counts or people presence. It  could also triangulate of both thermal and motion sensing to improve accuracy of passive infrared sensors.

By using a common IoT platform, all this data can be quickly collected and analyzed. That means organizations have the insights they need to understand how a space is being used, when it is being used and who is using it. These insights help minimize shortages and surpluses, and strategically use space to meet evolving business needs, reduce costs and stay competitive.

How to make the most of that unused space 

Let’s go back to that 30% of unused space. With the utilization insights gained from IoT, a space planner now knows how to capitalize on that 30% vacancy in their office. For example, utilization trends highlight when employees are coming to and from the office. That information then opens up the opportunity for space sharing, which then allows an organization to reduce or restack the number of spaces available yet still ensure that employees have a spot when they are in the building. You may even  discover that you can terminate an expiring lease should the space no longer be required.

And then there are the employees

We’ve talked about how IoT-driven space planning benefits an organization. But it’s good for employees, too. That’s because effective space management  reflects the changing nature of “work.” It acknowledges that the way in which people do their jobs has changed dramatically in recent years. Research show that almost 60% of the workforce is now mobile and traveling for work. So by necessity, it is often not the traditional “office space.” especially as companies are increasingly adopting more flexible “work from home” policies or less traditional hours. By focusing on utilization and employee wellbeing, ultimately IoT-enabled space planning delivers the right space, at the right time for the right purpose.

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