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Accurate planning requires using a consistent set of ratios and definitions for metrics, capacities and space measurements. This consistency helps us put our resources where they matter most, as we measure long-term planning targets and understand how we might adapt our space for short-term needs.

Capacity definition

A seat is any place work is done. IBM employees may use a phone room. They may use a seat in a conference room. Or they may take a seat in an open lounge setting.

Some seats are better than others for all-day tasks. Weighted capacity further defines what spaces might be used for longer periods. These spaces are always ergonomic, but not every ergonomic seat is a weighted capacity. While a meeting space may have 6 ergonomic seats, not every seat should be occupied long-term.

workpoint definition

Space measurement

Usable square feet—the way we measure space—has always varied from region to region and country to country. There are even some cities with their own unique way of measuring space.

Target metrics throughout the global design guidelines are measured in usable square feet (USF) per seat. Dependent on region, this measurement will be in square meters (SQM) or square feet (SQF).

To ensure we’re comparing consistent variables or metrics across our portfolio, IBM uses net usable or plannable area to develop programming, also known as space budgets, within the SOR.

Net usable area excludes:

  • Vertical penetrations associated with the building, such as shafts or elevators
  • Building infrastructure, such as mechanical rooms, janitorial closets and network infrastructure related to the building like the footprint of columns
  • Elevator lobbies
  • Any semipublic or public areas, such as building lobbies or shared corridors
  • Restrooms provided by the landlord
sample floor plan depicting space measurement

A simple question to check for net usable space is "could I put a seat here?" If the answer is yes, it’s most likely part of the net usable square footage.