By Christopher Burke, CEO, Brickendon
In my experience, there are two primary challenges when it comes to managing and running office space. The first is the universal need to have the space for staff to work effectively and happily and that you can be proud to have as the home for your business. For some this may mean space to inspire and impress clients and for others, it may be dictated by location and connectivity.
The second challenge for businesses is to ensure that their (typically) expensive office can remain economically efficient whilst they help employees to embrace flexible and remote working, potentially leaving expensive floorspace unused for prolonged periods.
Whether we like them or not, co-working spaces are changing the way we think about how and where we work – even if they are yet to set the stock market alight. But, what can businesses learn from them? Yes, they can offer plenty of interior design cues and the valuable lesson that staff like nice kitchens with free coffee, but the most interesting thing is the value of using technology and realtime data to get a better economic performance from your office floorspace – even when embracing a flexible workforce.
The average desk in a London office costs more than £8,000 a year, so not filling that space properly can feel like pouring money down the drain. Moving to a co-working space is an option, but more businesses are realising that they should be looking towards technology and data to make the most of the space they already have, before de-camping to a co-working environment.
Know your space to use it better
The key is to know how your workspace is being used. To address this, businesses need to equip themselves with detailed Management Information (MI) about desk and meeting room utilisation – the same kind of data that co-working companies use to keep rooms booked, spaces filled and workers happy and productive.
Firstly, by embracing flexible working, you can allow the use of your office space to be demand and employee driven. If this is managed digitally through a software system such as HotDeskPlus, businesses can quickly capture space usage or redundancy trends. Over the medium and long-term, this data can also provide rich insights into workforce dynamics such as the volumes of staff who prefer fixed spaces working with consistent groups of people, versus those who prefer to work from different spaces.
Organisations can then use this information to make informed decisions about the makeup of their real estate and potentially the direction of their business based on real, hard data.
How to make your space work for you
Small changes can go a long way. But using real data makes it easier to justify changes that can make a big difference. Merging large areas of empty desks into meeting rooms or break-out areas, splitting large meeting rooms into smaller ones, or removing, renting, or selling off surplus space all have the potential to save, or make, significant amounts of money.
However, it isn’t just about the money – it is widely accepted that happy employees, whose workplaces meet their needs, make for better, more productive workers.
Shrinking or changing workspace layouts can seem daunting, with the added worry of people not having space when the office may be at full capacity. These fears can be easily allayed by using a workplace management system that enables employees to reserve everything from desks and meeting rooms to bike and car park spaces.
And of course, if demand begins to out-strip supply, you’ll have live data at hand to make the right changes you need.
Using workspace management to transform your business
In an environment where businesses are coming under increased pressure from all sides to reduce costs, optimising your workspace with the help of a specialised tool is a no brainer. It has been proven to increase desk utilisation by almost 60% and reduce real-estate costs by as much as 55%. In a recent case study, the detailed MI provided evidence for the closure of 11 properties, significantly reducing the client’s real-estate spend.
Implemented correctly, a workspace management system has the potential to transform the way businesses use their real estate. Whether it provides evidence for an immediate reduction in the real-estate footprint, a repurposing of the unused space or simply to aid decisions about where future growth should be targeted, the potential is huge.