The Occupancy Planning Playbook
Occupancy planning allows companies to optimize how they use their space in the present and the future. The goal of occupancy planning is to help companies make the most out of the current square footage available and anticipate future office space needs. This typically involves rearranging office floor plans, updating the number of desks and workspaces in an office, planning for future growth, and more.
CBRE’s 2022-2023 Global Occupancy Insights Report found that 61% of offices intended to adopt a hybrid workplace model in 2022, with only 19% sticking with a purely office-based approach. If your business plans to adopt a hybrid workplace model or adjust headcounts, it can benefit from this guide.
What Are the Benefits of Occupancy Planning?
- Flexibility. Your company should prioritize occupancy planning because workplace trends and needs can change quickly. Effective planning can help companies adapt quickly to changes, both big and small.
- Optimize your space and save money. Renting out office space is expensive, so companies should plan for how to best use the square footage that they have. With effective occupancy planning, some companies may find that they waste plenty of resources and square footage, and can thrive in a smaller — and cheaper — office.
- Improve employee morale and retention. Occupancy planning can reveal ways to repurpose your space for improved workplace culture and boosted employee morale. For example, repurposing the space may allow for better collaboration, while some companies may want to reallocate the space to allow for more privacy.
How to Optimize the Occupancy Planning Process
Ask Employees For Their Input
Employee morale and retention should be a main consideration during the occupancy planning process, so consider asking employees for their input before making any big decisions or changes. Sure, making a cost-cutting change to your workplace may save money, but will it negatively impact your employee’s morale or effectiveness? Will it ultimately hurt your company’s finances in the long run if it reduces productivity and increases employee turnover?
Employees may also have good input on changing the layout of the office for increased productivity or effectiveness. You can gather input from employees by sending out a survey with questions, or by simply asking them directly.
Do Your Research
Before starting the occupancy planning process, you should first audit your office’s assets and expenses so that you can best plan out your space and make the best financial decisions possible. You will want to answer certain questions, such as:
- How much usable square footage does your office have?
- How many workers do you employ, and how many days a week are each of those employees in the office?
- How many new employees do you plan on hiring over the next several years? Will these employees work in the office, work remotely, or work with a hybrid model?
- How many workspaces, private offices, conference rooms, break rooms etc. does your office have?
- What assets do you have in your office? Assets include desks, chairs, laptops/desktops, printers, kitchen appliances, and more.
- Will your office assets need to be replaced in the near future? If not, when will they need to be replaced?
- What are the total overhead costs of renting out your office space?
Companies should be able to answer these types of questions before starting the occupancy planning process if they want to achieve the best results. You will also want to determine your target metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Metrics and KPIs help you determine your broader goals. Some space planning KPIs and metrics to include are the following:
- Peak occupancy is very important because it determines when your office space is the most full. For example, your office may only be at peak capacity one day of the week. Even if this is the case, you still need to make sure that your office space is able to effectively accommodate your employee’s needs when utilization is at peak occupancy.
- Alternatively, you can determine when your office is at minimum occupancy, as well as average occupancy. If your office space is at minimum occupancy Mondays and Fridays, how can you rearrange the space to best fit your company’s culture and boost employee morale and productivity the most? Considering how busy your space is on each day of the week and month can make a big difference for companies that adopt a hybrid workplace model.
- Meeting room and workspace utilization indicates how often employees are using meeting rooms, private spaces, or other similar dedicated rooms or workspaces. Considering this metric will help companies determine if they have enough or too many meeting rooms or workspaces. For example, if your workspace has 2 meeting rooms, each with a utilization rate of 50%, could your employees work just as effectively with a single meeting room?
Determine Space Utilization Goals
After you receive employee input, conduct some initial research, and determine target metrics and KPIs, you should consider laying out your space utilization goals. For example, if employee feedback signals that there isn’t enough dedicated space for private work sessions, consider allocating more dedicated workspaces and square footage for private work areas.
Alternatively, you may go into the planning process with the mindset of shrinking your square footage and moving into a smaller, cheaper space. Going into occupancy planning with specific goals or problems to fix can help the process go much more smoothly and increase its effectiveness. Specific goals can help you focus on what you want to improve or change about your workspace.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Utilizing modern technology makes the occupancy planning process much easier. Some technology that can help the occupancy planning process include the following:
Occupancy sensors are monitoring systems that track the flow of people through your office using sensors or cameras.
- Camera sensors use cameras to establish how many employees are in your office at any given time. However, they often require a live feed and this may bring up privacy concerns among the workforce.
- Computer vision or optical sensors use an algorithm to understand and analyze images. These sensors are less intrusive than camera sensors because identities are kept anonymous, and can easily go on ceilings or walls. The most advanced sensors like VuAI can also measure temperature, light, noise, and humidity.
- Bluetooth and WiFi sensors keep track of how many WiFi-enabled devices are in a space at one time. This can help companies determine how many employees are in the office or a particular room at any given time.
Offices with reservable workspaces or meeting rooms can use booking systems to their advantage. Booking systems require employees to reserve or check in any time they use a reservable space. Employees benefit from a booking system because it simplifies the usage of the space. Employers benefit because it reveals how often meeting rooms and other reservable spaces are used, and by whom.
- Occupancy planning can help companies adapt to workplace changes and trends, save money, and boost employee morale.
- First and foremost, consider your employees’ needs. Request input from your employees, and consider how any changes may affect their productivity, effectiveness, and morale.
- Do your research and determine space utilization goals to best inform the process.
- Technology can help employers collect much-needed occupancy data.
AVUITY can guide you through the occupancy planning process using advanced occupancy sensors and data analytics. Schedule a free consultation with an occupancy planning expert today.
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