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The ultimate guide to space management

Managing your space well doesn’t have to be difficult. But to be successful you need the right processes and tools.

Office space management isn’t a new practice. But lately, it’s gotten a lot more attention. Why?

Workplaces are changing to keep up with employee needs. Many companies have adopted more flexible work models since the start of the pandemic, requiring employees to be on-site fewer than five days a week. Whether you adopt a hybrid workplace or not, space management is key to nurturing a great workplace experience and ensuring your space is used efficiently. 

Managing your space well doesn’t have to be difficult. But to be successful you need the right processes and tools. We’ll go over it all below. But first, let’s define space management.

What is space management?

Space management involves auditing, tracking, and managing your company’s physical space. Think floor planning, meeting room design, and desk arrangements.

While this may sound simple in concept, it can actually be more complex in practice. For example, you may oversee many spaces for your company such as different floors, buildings, parking lots, or locations. These spaces may serve different purposes and have unique requirements.

There are a lot of considerations when it comes to managing all your spaces, and it can feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to go it alone! 

By understanding the benefits of space management, incorporating effective space management tools, and following our step-by-step guide, you can build a space that improves your organization and employees will love. 

The benefits of space management

No one enjoys working in a space that is crowded, mismanaged, or thoughtlessly designed. Your employees have high expectations for the office. They want a space that is collaborative, productive, and welcoming. 

Managing your office space is key to encouraging employees to return to the workplace and feel happy once they’re there. Let’s explore a few other benefits of effective space management.

1. Major cost reduction

Rent and office furniture can be a major expenditure for businesses if the space is poorly planned. Space management can help you design a space that is the right size and has the necessary amount of furniture for your employees. With less unused space and fewer desks, you’ll save on overhead costs.

2. Better productivity

A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. The same is true about the office. A well-managed workplace, without excess clutter and wasted spaces, allows employees to come in and be more productive. 

3. Constant improvements

A not-so-obvious benefit of office space management is the ability for constant improvement. Rather than designing your office just one time, space management plans actually force you to consistently look for ways you can improve your space to fit your employees’ changing needs. Office space management tools will come in handy if you’re looking for data on how your space is used (more on that below).

4. Higher adaptability

Workplace regulations and policies change all the time. One day you might be hosting an all-hands event at your office, and the next day only 10 people may be allowed in the building. A space management plan will help you to keep up with changes and be ready to evolve your workplace when you need to.

5. Save workplace admins time 

With the right space management tools, you can save your team time and energy. They’ll no longer have to manually assign desks or move around furniture last minute. With better predictability and office space planning tools, they can focus their attention on the workplace experience and safety. 

6. Thriving company culture

Company culture is made of all the interactions that happen at the workplace. Your workplace is the home to team bonding events, happy hours, and collaboration. These interactions are key to building a thriving and connected workplace. Having the right space to hold these important moments will go a long way in making your employees feel connected to your company’s culture.

4 helpful space management tools 

To build a space that meets your business and employee needs, you need the right tools. Space management software will help you collect data to ensure your space is efficiently being used and supports your employees. This software can also help you identify trends and preferences in how people use your workplace.

For example, are your single-person pods always booked while your 8-person meeting rooms are always empty? Well, you might need to invest in more pods or convert your larger meeting room into smaller spaces. When you understand how people use your space, you can improve it to suit their needs.

Here are four tools you can use to understand how people use your workplace:

1. An employee and visitor sign-in system

In order to plan your space, you first need to know who’s coming in and how often. Maybe your sales teams are coming in the most and need quiet spaces to conduct calls. Or maybe your marketing team is coming in the most and needs bigger meeting rooms with plenty of seating and whiteboards. 

On average, how many people come to the office each day? With that data, you’ll be able to ensure there are enough of the right working spaces to accommodate your employees. 

You’ll also need to know which teams are the most likely to have frequent visitors in the workplace. With a visitor management system, you can collect information on how many visitors are entering your workplace and how often. Consider if your space allows visitors to comfortably check-in for the day and how your employees can greet and guide visitors through the office. 

2. Meeting room booking software

A common challenge employees face in the office is booking the right meeting room for their needs. A room booking solution can help your employees easily find and book available rooms suited for the kind of project they’re working on. 

Bonus: With room booking software, you’ll be able to view analytics on room usage, such as how often each space is booked. You’ll also be able to see how many booked rooms are no-shows and free up that space for someone else to use. 

3. Hot desk booking software

The next most coveted workplace resources are desks and workstations. Assigning desks manually can be a pain. Plus, many companies are adopting more flexible seating models, like hot-desking and office hoteling. To make the most of your flexible seating space and understand which desks employees prefer, use desk booking software. This will allow your employees to see all available desks and book their desks on the days they’re coming into the office. 

Also, consider what kinds of desks and amenities your employees need to be productive. Some employees prefer standing desks while others might want a corner desk with dual monitors. When you’re designing your space, you might want to consider how you integrate desk amenities throughout the office.  

4. Space planning software

Last but not least, you’ll need a space planning tool. These tools can range from simple “drag and drop” floor planning to advanced 3D modeling. Floorplanner and Sketchup are a few great options to consider. A space planning tool will give you a birds-eye view of your workplace so you can explore layout options before making changes to your space. 

You should also consider density tracking sensors to test new space options. They’ll give you a complete view of who’s in your space and how they use it. You’ll learn foot traffic patterns, the places where people tend to gather, and where folks like to work. 

The space management process: step by step

Now that you’ve gotten an overview of some of the essential office space management tools, let’s dive into a step-by-step process on how to get started managing your space.

1. Assess your space

Start by taking inventory of your space. As you do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many square feet of space do you have in total?
  • What’s your workplace’s total capacity? What’s the capacity of each individual space? For example, your total capacity may be 200 people and your kitchen’s capacity may be 45 people. 
  • What is the function of each of your spaces today? Does your cafeteria double as your all-hands space?
  • What technologies does each space have?

Take a critical eye to the space itself and think about what’s realistically possible. While you might not be able to knock down a bunch of walls in your first year of space planning, you may be able to add tables with wheels to your kitchen space so they can be easily moved in and out or swap out lighting features to fit specific moods. 

2. Invest in the right tools

You’ve read about a few key tools in the section above. Now consider how you integrate space management tools with other workplace tools to provide a seamless, flexible working experience for your employees. As you plan out your physical office space, think through how tools can complement the environment for employees and enhance your understanding of space use. 

3. Survey your employees

Not sure how to make your workplace somewhere employees want to work? Ask them! Before you make any decisions, send out a survey to understand employee preferences. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What draws you to work on-site?
  • What space types do you need to be productive while on-site?
  • What spaces do you use the most? How about the least?
  • What do you enjoy most about being in the workplace? Least?

The results of the survey should reveal the space types employees need and desire. Survey employees on a regular basis—at least once a quarter—to ensure you have an up-to-date understanding of their needs.

4. Outline and measure your goals

When you’re ready to start designing your space, create tangible key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your success. For example, your goal might be to remove closed offices and instead add more creative meeting rooms to increase collaboration or attendance. How will you measure the success of that effort? By measuring employee attendance or taking a pulse on employee collaboration.

5. Monitor and improve

A great workspace takes regular maintenance. Once you’ve set up your workplace, be sure to use all of your tools to gather data and make improvements. Collect regular feedback from employees about how the changes are affecting their work experience, and cross-check their feedback with your KPIs. Smart and effective workplace design is a living, breathing process. 

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Great workspaces aren’t formed by accident. By getting organized, using office space management tools like the ones above, and asking the right questions, you can understand how people use your space and improve it.

Want to learn more about how to make the most of your workplace? Download our ebook, Space management tips to help your people thrive in a hybrid workplace.

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Maria Akhter
Author Bio Maria Akhter

Maria is a content marketing manager at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, her passions include exploring the outdoors, checking out local farmers' markets, and drinking way too much coffee.