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What is Space Management?

Space management is the management of an organization’s physical space inventory. Think about accurate tracking of how much space an organization has, managing occupancy information, and creating strategic spatial plans.

Live-webinar - Effective Space Management: key elements to consider

In this webinar, Susan Clarke, Principal Analyst at Verdantix explains why space management has become one of Facility and Space Managers’ main priorities. This webinar is being held at 11:00 AM EST.

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Whether a government organization, university, industrial factory, retail chain or financial institution, every organization needs some type of space to support its core business. And while 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 organization 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 no longer the ultimate goal. 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 the space they have to be cost effective and productive.

However, even with the many options for space management solutions out there today, there are still many organizations 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 get unorganized and confusing really quick. This manual practice also makes it extremely challenging to maintain accurate records, share accurate and real-time data – especially if the space manager or excel file owner retires. In addition, it’s very hard to use these manual reports to analyze space data to make strategic decisions to support the organization’s changing business needs.

Organizations are also faced with never-ending initiatives to cut costs, improve process efficiency, and increase productivity, and they are realizing 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 Managers 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.

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.

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Articles & white papers | 10/11/2018
Model - Space Management Maturity Model

Discover the maturity level of your space management and visualize the gap between where you want to be. Download Planon’s Space Management Maturity Model. 

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Articles & white papers | 10/11/2018
White Paper - Why effective space management is fundamental to a successful working experience

This white paper discusses the concept of space itself, describes the importance of creating an optimal working experience, and explains which elements of space management contribute to offering a successful working experience. 

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Benefits of space management software

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

1. The ability to identify space and lower portfolio costs

It is well known that one of the largest expenses for an organization is made up of personnel and accommodation costs. Effective space management has a direct impact on both cost centers, making it a critical component that can directly affect the bottom line of the business. 

In an ideal situation, every organization would use every inch of their space for the intended purpose, whether it be meeting rooms, storage, labs, desks, or dining space. Using a space management software solution provides the accurate and real-time data that is needed to see if spaces could be used more efficiently to reduce costs. This means that organizations can re-allocate underutilized space for more appropriate use or even make a case for or against the need for an expansion based on real-time data. An organization 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

While the demand for getting the right people with the right skills into the right roles – the War for Talent – is higher than ever before, the focus of space management is shifting from just reducing space costs toward also creating a working environment that helps to attract and retain talented employees. This does not 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.

To keep employees satisfied and engaged, Facility and Space Managers need to provide employees with work spaces 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 organization pays for space that is not needed. Space Managers have 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.

An innovative software solution for space management provides clear insights into space occupancy and space utilisation. This data can help space management teams draw better conclusions and recognize trends about the space they provide and work on initiatives that will fulfill actual employee needs. When the data shows that certain spaces, such as concentration rooms, are continuously occupied and thus frequently used, this could be a reason to question if there is a greater need for these types of spaces compared to other types. Seeing that the occupancy rate of open-plan offices is extremely high, could indicate that employees are feeling cramped and thus action might 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 organization longer, and are more productive.

3. Generate reports to develop strategic space plans

Without 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 centralized in one system. Additionally, when space data is spread out and stored at different locations, redundancies can occur, making it harder to know which dataset is more up to date. An innovative software solution for space management, ideally integrated into an IWMS, centralizes 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 utilization reports, and use scenario planning for future space allocation. Based on these reports, Facility and Space Managers are able to monitor and analyze their space management data and plan for future improvement.

While there are some excellent space management point solutions in the market, organizations will get the most out of their space management when combining it with an IWMS solution. With an IWMS, organizations 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, allowing each to see accurate, up-to-date data that can aid in decision making across all participating departments.

4. Space management maturity level

To help organizations 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.

 

Global success stories

Case Study - Singapore Management University

Haslinda Shamsudin ‒ Project Manager, Office of Campus Development: “Planon’s IWMS has provided us with an efficient, real-time solution to our workplace and facilities challenges.”

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Michael Müller, Managing Director Bayer Real Estate: "Successful RE and FM with Planon."

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