Space management is the management of an organisation’s physical space inventory. This involves tracking how much space an organisation has, managing occupancy information, and creating spatial plans.

The importance of effective space management

Having a clear understanding of space is a critical component of effective facility management, as it is the foundation for many other activities, such as occupancy management, move management, room reservations, maintenance management and property management.

Benefits of space management software

Using an innovative software solution to successfully manage an organisation’s space, offers a number of benefits. For example:

1. The ability to identify space and lower portfolio costs

One of the largest expenses for an organisation is made up of personnel and accommodation costs. Effective space management has a direct impact on both cost centres, making it a critical component that can greatly impact the bottom line of the business.

Ideally, an organisation would use all their space for the intended purpose, whether it be meeting rooms, storage, labs, desks, or dining space. Using space management software provides the accurate and real-time data that is needed to see if spaces could be used more effectively to reduce costs. This means that organisations can re-allocate spaces that aren’t being used for a more appropriate purpose or even make a case for, or against, the need for expansion based upon real-time data. An organisation with a space team that is equipped with real-time, accurate data, can make better decisions that will drastically cut portfolio costs.

2. Create a pleasant working environment and improve productivity

There’s always the need to have the right people with the right skills in the right roles. The War for Talent is greater than ever before and the focus of space management is shifting from reducing space costs towards creating a working environment that helps to attract and retain talented employees. This doesn’t mean that reducing space costs is no longer high on the priority list of Facility and Space Managers, but finding the right balance is becoming more important.

In order for employees to remain satisfied and engaged, Facility and Space Managers need to provide employees with workspaces that meet their needs. This means providing enough physical space to be able to complete daily tasks in a comfortable and effective way, but not so much that the organisation pays for space that is not needed. Space Managers have also started to explore how to provide different kinds of spaces for different purposes, for example, silent rooms for employees who do not need to be disturbed, or creative spaces with comfortable chairs that encourage employees to brainstorm, innovate, and collaborate with others in a less formal setting.

For space management, an innovative software solution provides clear insights into space occupancy and space utilisation. This data can help space management teams draw better conclusions and recognise trends about the space they provide, and work on initiatives that will fulfil actual employee needs. When the data shows that certain spaces, such as concentration rooms, are continuously occupied, this could be a reason to question if there is a larger need for these types of spaces compared to others. Seeing that the occupancy rate of open-plan offices is extremely high, could indicate that employees are feeling cramped and therefore action could be needed to improve this.

These are just a few examples, but when your space management team has better data to work with, they can give better insights and look into potential problems or solutions faster. Access to consistent, accurate space data also allows you to make it easier for your employees to access and book available space, whether that is through a self-service portal, a mobile device, or from a kiosk or room booking panel.

In the end, happy employees perform better, stay with an organisation longer and are more productive.

46% of real estate and facilities directors rate impriving occupant comfort as a top priority in the near future.

3. Generate reports to develop strategic space plans

Without having software for space management in place, it becomes difficult and time consuming to run reports on real-time and accurate space data as the data is simply not centralised in one system. In addition, when space data is spread out and stored at different locations, redundancies can occur, making it more difficult to know which dataset is more up to date. An innovative software solution for space management, ideally integrated into an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), centralises all data into one system, collecting it automatically in real-time. With a space management module and IWMS in place, Facility and Space Managers can run reports such as chargeback reports and utilisation reports and use scenario planning for future space allocation. Based on these reports, Facility and Space Managers are able to monitor and analyse their space management data and plan for future improvement.

Whilst there are some excellent space management point solutions in the market, organisations will get the most out of their space management when combining it with an IWMS solution. With an IWMS, organisations can consolidate all their separate, fragmented sets of data for maintenance management, property and lease management, services management and sustainability management. This allows all stakeholders to work together better, each seeing accurate, up-to-date data that can aid in decision making across all participating departments.

4. Examine the space management maturity level

To help organisations discover the current and desired maturity level of their space management, Planon has developed the Space Management Maturity Model. This maturity model can help you start a conversation with your team about where your space management strategy is today and what steps you can take to evolve and close the gap between your current situation and your desired situation. You can download the Space Management Maturity Model here.

Whether a government organisation, university, industrial factory, retail chain or financial institution, every organisation needs some type of space to support its core business. And whilst space can relate to a room with one or two desks, it can also relate to an entire department, a whole floor, multiple floors within one building, or several floors within a large portfolio of buildings across the globe. Additionally, spaces can be assigned, such as a workspace dedicated to a specific employee – or shared, such as a meeting or concentration room. Space can be many things and can be used in many ways. That means one thing is always certain: Effective or not, every organisation must have a method or process to manage its space.

The evolution of space management

Space management strategy has developed considerably over the years, but many organizations still battle with how to utilize their available space in the best ways to maximize occupancy while still providing a comfortable and efficient environment for employees to get their work done. While there are still many organizations who do not have tools or solutions in place to manage their challenges with space utilization, there are many innovative solutions available today.

Space management typically falls under the facility management category, which started in the 1970s and mainly focused on reactive cleaning and maintenance. There were no tools or solutions to measure occupancy or test to see if space was being used in efficient ways. However, the priorities of companies and the expectations of employees were also different. Having the biggest office on the most popular block is not always the primary goal now. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, space planning and reallocation strategy became more and more important. And today, organizations are trying to find new ways to downsize or better utilize their space to be as cost effective and productive as possible.

The need for space management in the future

Even with the multitude of options for space management solutions in the market today, there are still many organisations that try to manage their space manually. Using pen and paper diagrams that show the floor layout and room occupants, or an Excel sheet that contains the details about each individual space including occupants and resource usage can become disorganised and confusing. This manual practice also makes it extremely challenging to maintain and share accurate records and real-time data – especially if the space manager or Excel file owner leaves the organisation. In addition, it’s very hard to use these manual reports to analyse space data to make strategic decisions to support the organisation’s changing business needs.

Organisations are also faced with never-ending initiatives to cut costs, improve process efficiency, and increase productivity, and they are realising that these manual methods of space management are not future-proof or agile enough to cope with a fast-changing space portfolio. Therefore, more and more Facility and Space Managers are starting to seriously consider investing in intelligent software solutions, such as an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) to coordinate the management of spaces.

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