How insight into capacity utilization makes a sunny day on vacation give me flashbacks to working in the office

I recently went on a long vacation to a beautiful resort in Egypt. I don’t know about you, but I like to get in a few extra hours of sleep while I’m on vacation, so I ended up getting up and walking to the pool a little later than expected around 1:30 PM, albeit well-rested and in good spirits. I was ready to continue this relaxation by soaking in the sun by the pool, but I quickly ran into a dilemma. All the sunbeds were already occupied. My first thought was, “Why does this hotel have so few sunbeds?” But, when I looked closely, I saw that most of the sunbeds weren’t event being used. Instead, they were all just covered with a beach towel or a personal belonging to mark it as “off limits” by people were trying to save their spots for later. In fact, most of those people weren’t even at the pool at all, only a handful of people were actual in the pool area.

To make matters worse, this made me immediately think of work – while I was on vacation. Obviously, my office doesn’t boast perfect sunny weather and it certainly does not have a swimming pool – but with just a bit of creativity you can imagine all the desks and meeting rooms in an office as sunbeds. And you can swap that image of a physical towel as a placeholder with a virtual reservation. In fact, it felt like I had just ended up in a very similar situation.

Imagine you need to schedule an impromptu meeting with one or more colleagues, but see that all the meeting rooms are currently booked in your reservation system. However, as you do a little investigative walk through the office, you find that many of the meeting rooms that showed up as “reserved” are actually empty due to no shows or meetings ending early. In other words: the towels are still on the chairs, but, in fact, no-one is there.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence at many organizations and we find that many organizations are not using their space efficiently. And it’s not great for employee morale. It often results in employee complaints, and makes the office feel too small, even though in reality the average occupancy of a workplace is often only 50% - meaning tons of office space is available and underutilized during a staggering half of the workday.

The trend is that the fixed workplace will increasingly disappear. And in our office, this is no different. We come to the office when it suits us and look for a flexible place to work. Monday is always a busy day because the majority of our colleagues are present. If you arrive slightly later, it is difficult to find a place. If I had known during my holiday that the sunbeds around the pool were all occupied, I would have walked to the beach or booked another fun activity instead. The same could be said for office work – if I know a specific space is not available for the first half of the day – I can schedule my day to work on things that do not need that space. How much time could we all save if we could see in advance which workspaces were occupied and how many were still free? More insight into the peak times would mean I could even plan smarter by working on other days at the office or choosing to meet with clients elsewhere.

Bottom line: research shows that a workplace often costs more than $10,000 per year. Imagine if you had more information about its actual occupancy. If you could utilize just 10 workspaces more efficiently based on this data, you could be sitting on $100,000 in savings.

About the author

Michel Smits | Account Manager Inside Sales

Michel used to work for Planon as Account Manager inside sales.

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