Space management is a hot topic these days. Because of flexible work, rising real estate costs, new technologies, and other factors, there’s a sea change in how organizations approach their spaces. Businesses are rethinking how many desks and workspaces they need. Higher ed institutions are reassessing technologies in their spaces needed for project-based learning. And companies from manufacturing to healthcare and beyond are re-examining how their spaces can ― and should — be used.
But what exactly does space management encompass ― and how can your organization get the most value from it? Here’s a complete look at the how, what, and why of space management.
Why You Need a Space Management Strategy
At its core, space management involves tracking, understanding, and optimizing the usage of your space. It’s a simple idea, but without a space management system in place, your organization can quickly become overwhelmed. A good system can help you answer questions like:
- What workspaces in our office are used the most?
- Where do our employees like to collaborate?
- Are there enough study spaces for our students?
- What spaces can be converted for multiple uses?
- How much of our space is unused or underutilized?
- What will our space needs look like in the future?
The Benefits of Space Management
Office Space Management
With real estate typically the second highest expense for an organization and an estimated 40% of workspaces sitting empty during the workday, businesses pay a steep price for underutilized spaces. An office space management system gives visibility into how spaces are being used so you can make better business decisions in the long term.
And then there’s the people piece. Great workplace space management makes for an improved user experience because:
- Employees can locate and book the desks and workspaces they need to get work done
- Collaboration is smoother when people meet in the right places, with the right resources
- Office visitors receive white-glove treatment for curated customer experiences
- You prevent scheduling mishaps like double bookings, phantom meetings, and rooms that aren’t ready for use
Campus Space Management
Today’s higher education institutions also face enormous challenges. Aging facilities, changing student expectations, and outdated learning spaces (think massive lecture halls or inflexible furniture) put pressure on colleges to overhaul their spaces.
Space management systems can help. For example, Wake Forest University follows a decentralized model where each department controls its own buildings and spaces. But when the university implemented a space management system, they boosted communication and collaboration while still allowing each group to manage their spaces. Check out the short video below to see more:
Who Is Responsible for Space Management?
In short, anyone who has control over where people work or gather in a workplace or campus is responsible for space management at their organization. Roles include:
- Operations/administrative coordinator
- Service manager
- Director of conference center/events
- Director of campus life
- Director of IT/IT project manager
- Registrar/associate registrar/assistant registrar
- Facility manager/property manager/real estate manager
- Director of facilities
- Business executive
- Facilities managers/engineers
- Warehouse managers
- Space manager/coordinators
- Space planners
A Workplace Space Management Example
What does space management look like in practice? Check out a day in the life of an employee whose organization uses a workplace space management system to create safe, flexible employee experiences. (Click the image to see the full infographic.)
The Biggest Space Management Challenges
Making the most of your physical and virtual spaces requires significant planning and effort. Here are some of the key space management challenges to be aware of in the office environment.
- Figuring out how much space you really need. If your organization has implemented a flexible work model, you might think reducing existing space is a no-brainer. On the other hand, if you’ve recently expanded your workforce, you might assume that you’ll need more workspace. But there are lots of other factors to consider, such as employee preference, health and safety concerns, visitor management, and more.
- Attracting new talent to the workplace. In today’s changing workforce, do you really know what employees want out of your organization’s spaces? Surveys show employees, especially younger ones, want a workplace that’s dynamic and engaging. But configuring spaces to meet those expectations can be challenging.
- Getting buy-in for your space management model. Did you know that 11% of all mental health issues connected to work are due to changes at the workplace, according to a recent NHS report? Helping people adjust as you modernize your office space is vital to employee health and well-being.
Tools and Technology for Managing Space
Space management software can address many of the above challenges — and bring about many of the above benefits. It does so through technology including:
Office hoteling and hot desking tools
Make it easy to book the right place, at the right time, for the right people. Software for desk hoteling, ― also known as hot desking, workspace management, or personal space management — lets users easily locate and reserve workspaces.
Meeting room booking and event management
Meeting and conference room scheduling doesn’t have to be complicated. With room reservation software, people can quickly set up meetings, make changes to reservations, and stay up to date on meeting communications through daily event reports and change alerts.
Space utilization and analysis
Space utilization data is critical for making the best use of your workplace and campus spaces. Track, understand, and optimize your operations, then import your facility management information and integrate with maintenance and HVAC to automate heating and cooling for energy and money savings.
Mobile space management
We live in a mobile world. Mobile space management software means your people can book spaces on the go, get automated notifications sent to mobile devices when reservations are updated or cancelled, and check in on the spot.
What Else Should You Know? An FAQ
Is space planning the same as space management?
Space management and space planning are related, but they are not exactly the same. Space planning is the process of figuring out how to best lay out physical space in buildings and structures. Think retailers determining how to display inventory, businesses updating floor plans for better space allocation, or large campuses determining how optimize maintenance efforts and gain efficiencies across their assets and buildings.
What about facilities management?
Definitions vary, but facilities management has to do with your physical space inventory, such as maintaining your organization's buildings and equipment. A facility manager uses FM software to create a work order, repair an asset, or perform another maintenance task. Space management, on the other hand, is for both physical and virtual spaces.
How does space utilization fit into this picture?
Space utilization is a part of space management. Space data helps you answer space usage questions like how often a space is being used, which spaces are the most requested, which spaces are most underutilized, etc. Armed with this information, you can then achieve more efficient use of your spaces.