Man measuring distance between office tables

Space Utilization Study: What Is It, Importance, How To Conduct One

What is Space Utilization?

Space utilization is how a company or organization utilizes space in its office. While occupancy measures how many people are in a certain space at a given time, utilization measures exactly how that space is used. Utilization isn’t about the number of people in a space but instead focuses on how efficiently an area is used. A space utilization study can measure how an entire office is used or focus on specific rooms or regions within the office, such as meeting rooms, conference rooms, classrooms, and other collaborative workspaces. 


Companies and organizations of all kinds and all sizes should periodically conduct space utilization studies. Space utilization can help companies optimize their space by addressing specific questions or concerns, such as: 


  • How should our company best configure our existing spaces?
  • Do we need additional office space?
  • How many employees are in our office space on each day of the week? 
  • What time of the day is the office most full? 
  • What areas of the office aren’t utilized to their full potential? 
  • Are there areas in the office that are underutilized, and how can you shift more utilization to another underutilized area of the office? 
  • How much underutilized space is there in the office?
  • How can you best optimize how space is used in the office?
  • Should your company move to a smaller or larger office space in order to be most effective?

The Importance of Conducting a Space Utilization Study

According to commercial real estate firm CBRE, utilization is the top occupancy metric among its clients, with 74% using it for planning and development. Renting office space is one of the highest costs for any company, so ensuring that the space is used efficiently is essential. With more companies shifting to a hybrid work model amid a rise in remote work, organizations of all stripes should conduct a space utilization study to ensure that as little space as possible is going to waste. Overall, a proper space utilization study offers a couple of main benefits. 


Use Space Efficiently and Save Money. A space utilization study will reveal how much space and which specific areas are underutilized. Once a company identifies how much space is underutilized and where, it can work to use that space more efficiently. In other scenarios, organizations may find that they can work just as effectively with less space, allowing them to move to a smaller — and cheaper — office. Since leasing office space is usually one of the largest expenses for companies, moving to a smaller office space can save a lot of money over the long run. 


Increase Employee Productivity, Morale, and Retention. A space utilization study may indicate that your office isn’t designed to optimize worker morale, productivity, and efficiency. One survey found that 85% of workers were not satisfied with their workplace environment, which indicates that most companies are not doing enough to optimize their offices for their employees. Ultimately, a space utilization study can reveal ways for your company to better utilize its space for employee productivity and morale, which can also greatly increase worker retention. 


Improve Company Culture. A space utilization study can help you address weaknesses negatively impacting your company’s workplace culture. For example, let’s say a company wants to cultivate a collaborative work culture, but a space utilization study finds that collaborative spaces are underutilized compared to private workspaces. Company executives can use this finding to address weaknesses and enact changes that increase collaboration and comradery between employees. 


For a real life example of these benefits, read AVUITY’s space assessment case study.

How to Measure and Calculate Space Utilization

Corporate real estate directors and company executives can use a variety of metrics to measure and assess space utilization. Common space utilization metrics include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Average peak usage.The maximum usage of a space over a specified amount of time. 
  • Daily peak utilization by space. The maximum number of people who are in an area on any given day. 
  • High-traffic areas. This figure is used to identify areas that receive the highest footfall and density of visitors in relation to the rest of your premises. 
  • Total square footage. The number of usable square feet in an office, including hallways, meeting rooms, bathrooms, break rooms, etc. 
  • Total visitor traffic. The total number of visitors entering your office or facility during a specified period of time. 

How to Collect Data for Space Utilization Using Technology

Companies can use technology to collect space utilization data instead of doing the work manually. In fact, measuring space utilization using technology such as sensors and booking systems has never been easier or more accurate. 

Use Occupancy Sensors 

Occupancy sensors are the main form of technology that companies can use to track space utilization. Occupancy sensors track the flow of people through a given space or room. There are a few main types of sensors that companies can use. 


Computer vision or optical sensors apply an algorithm over an image to understand what types of things are included in the image and inform how the space is used. Sensors like VuAI maintain both privacy and accuracy of spatial data.


Bluetooth and WiFi sensors collect utilization and occupancy data by tracking how many WiFi-enabled devices are in a given space or office at a particular time.  


Camera sensors use cameras to track how many employees and which ones are in an office or space at any given time. 


Radar sensors use radar to track occupancy and utilization instead of cameras or wifi-enabled devices. 


Smart lighting uses timers and motion sensors to collect occupancy and utilization data, and also reduces electrical use by automatically turning off lights when a room or space isn’t in use. 


Use Booking Systems

Companies can use booking systems to track space utilization data for particular rooms or workspaces throughout their office. Booking systems enable workers to reserve or check in when they use a meeting room, conference room, or other similar space. Ultimately, booking systems can help companies determine how often meeting rooms and other reservable spaces are used, who is using them, and how they are utilized. 

Space Utilization Best Practices

There are a couple of main things that companies can do to make the space utilization process go more smoothly. 

Use Technology to Guide the Process

As the previous section summarized, using technology such as space utilization sensors and booking systems is the best way to collect the most accurate utilization and occupancy data possible. Ultimately, occupancy sensors and booking systems can inform corporate real estate directors and other company executives about how the entire office and each space and room are utilized. 

Incorporate Employee Feedback

Consider incorporating employee feedback into the space utilization process using a survey or by asking workers directly. Ultimately, a space utilization study can cut costs but should also help boost employee morale and increase worker retention. Employees may have good ideas that can increase efficiency and productivity.

Key Takeaways

  • A space utilization study can help companies and organizations save money, optimize their space, improve employee morale and productivity, and improve company culture.
  • Companies should invest in the latest technology, such as sensors and booking systems if they want to achieve the best results. 
  • Ask employees for feedback and advice throughout the process. 


AVUITY can guide you through the occupancy planning process using advanced occupancy sensors and data analytics. Schedule a free consultation with a space utilization expert today.


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