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Space management: what it is and how to use it to create a workplace your people will love

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

Space management is not 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 both below. But first, let’s define space management.

So, what is space management?

Space management involves auditing, tracking, and managing your company’s physical space. 

This is simple enough in concept but can be more complex in practice. For example, you may oversee multiple spaces for your company. This may include several floors, buildings, or locations. These spaces may serve different purposes and have unique requirements. 

That said, managing your space comes with plenty of benefits. In the next section, we’ll take a look at some of the ways space management can have a positive impact on your organization. 

The benefits of space management

Managing your space well is key to encouraging employees to come back to the workplace. It can mean the difference between an empty workplace and a lively one. Let’s take a look at some of the other benefits of space management:

  • Spot trends in how employees use your space so you can make improvements to underutilized spaces and reduce crowding of popular ones
  • Help employees find the space they need to do heads-down and collaborative work
  • Create a space where company culture can thrive
  • Build a workplace that can flex to meet employees’ changing needs
  • Save workplace admins time by using space management tools that reduce manual work 
  • Right-size your company’s real estate investments 

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should practice space management. Even minor changes can improve your workplace experience. To build a better workplace for your employees, you need the right tools. Let’s take a look at the tools you’ll need in the next section.

4 tools you need to manage your space

To build a space that meets business and employee needs, you need data. Using space management tools will ensure your space is used efficiently and supports your employees. These tools will help you spot preferences and trends in how people use your workplace. 

Real-time and historical records will help you spot usage patterns, justify space expenditures, and improve the workplace experience for employees. 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 so you can better manage your space. 

1 – An employee and visitor sign-in system

In order to plan your space, you need to know who’s coming in and how often. It’s also important to know which teams are most likely to have visitors in the workplace. You can collect this information using your visitor management solution. You can break this data down even further to understand which teams are in the workplace most often. Resourcing and preferences in space types can vary by team. This data will help you plan ahead to have enough space and resources for these teams. 

2 – Meeting room booking software

A common challenge employees face with meeting rooms is booking the right meeting rooms for their needs. Use a room booking solution to help employees easily find and book available rooms. 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

Assigning desks manually can be a pain.  Manual desk booking also means it’s unclear which desks need to be sanitized, which may put employees off of using them. To make the most of your flexible seating space, use your desk booking solution to understand which desks employees prefer most. You’ll be able to see how many times each desk is booked, when they’re booked, and who booked them. With this information, you can reconfigure your desk setup so it’s tailored to your people’s preferences. You can also ensure that every desk someone books will be clean and ready for use.

4 – Space planning software

To improve your workplace, you need a space planning tool. These tools can range from simple “drag and drop” floor planning to advanced 3D modeling. Choose what works best for your needs. Floorplanner and SketchUp are a couple of options. 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 use destiny tracking sensors as you 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 they like to do different types of work. With this density data, you can observe areas where people gather.

Before you make improvements to your workplace, you need to understand the current state of your space. In the next section, we’ll take a look at some questions you should ask before you dive in.

Questions to ask before you make changes to your space

To get a complete look at your workplace and the areas that need to be improved, be sure you have answers to these questions:

  • How many square feet of space do you have in total?
  • How many square feet does each individual space have? For example, how many square feet does the kitchen have? How about each of your meeting rooms?
  • 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? This may not always be obvious. For example, your lobby may serve as a huddle space or informal meeting space
  • What technologies does each space have today?

Track this information somewhere. You’ll need to refer to it often when you begin planning changes to your space. A spreadsheet or project management tool (e.g., Asana) works great.  

You should also survey your employees to learn how they use the workplace, their needs, and the types of spaces they’d like to have access to. 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?
  • Which spaces do you use least? Why?
  • Which spaces do you use most? Why?
  • 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.

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

What 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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Tiffany Fowell
Author Bio Tiffany Fowell