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Solve Workplace Strategy with Utilization Data


Workplace strategy aims to maximize employee experience and minimize costs. To resolve this paradox, workplace strategy matches employees’ patterns of use to the work environment. This is only possible with utilization data, the measurement of how people use space.

Invest in employees

Corporate real estate is a strategic investment in attracting and retaining the greatest asset of any organization: its employees. In a 2017 UK study of 2,800 knowledge workers, 67% of participants attributed the reason for leaving their last role to a workplace not optimized for their needs. CapitalOne’s 2017 Work Environment Survey found that roughly 65% of US workers believe that workplace design is equally or more important than location when considering a new job. The workplace matters to employees.

67% of participants attributed the reason for leaving their last role to a workplace not optimized for their needs.

Employees want to experience frictionless access to a range of spaces and amenities. A recent survey from office furniture design firm Knoll, found that 70% of highly satisfied workers are able to choose a variety of spaces. The problem is, employees waste up to 20 minutes each day physically looking for a space to meet. 45% of employees are unable to access the right space at the right time. One reason for this issue is the lack of transparency into available rooms. Matt Anders, Head of Global Media Services at eBay, explained at Future Office, “up to 40% of the time, people had meetings booked but weren't showing up….There is a need to know how many people are in a room. If no one is inside, we need to free up the room.” With the right integration utilization data can make employees (or a calendaring system) “aware” of which rooms are actually being used and which are available.

This application of “real-time busyness” can also be applied to communal spaces on corporate campuses such as onsite cafeterias and gyms. These shared spaces are growing in popularity; over half of employees surveyed claim quality food is important in the workplace. 64% of CBRE clients are focusing on amenities and services, including health and wellness. At CoRETech, Matt Werner, who leads the Enterprise Facilities Management line of business for CBRE Global Workplace Solutions, shared the reasoning behind his clients’ focus. “Consumerization is here, everyone wants to get everything they want with the touch of button. That means there needs to be more high touch and high tech.” Utilization data enables a “high touch and high tech” workplace.

The work environment improves productivity, which in turn unlocks value. The link between productivity and place has historically been difficult to measure, but this is changing. According to the Harvard COGx Study, certain office environments are linked to higher cognitive function scores. Google’s VP of Real Estate and Workplace Services, Mark Golan, explained at CoRETech, “If we can move productivity points 2-3%, that's worth more than our entire real estate spend.”

If we can move productivity points 2-3%, that's worth more than our entire real estate spend.

 Google’s VP of Real Estate and Workplace Services, Mark Golan

Reduce waste in the workplace

Without immediate financial benefit, organizations seldom consider developing or changingtheir workplace strategy. An effective workplace strategy reduces costs across the real estate stack: physical spaces, building systems and amenity services.

The largest waste in real estate is underutilized physical space. 42% of corporate office space globally is underutilized or unused. Corporate real estate leaders are leveraging utilization data to solve this problem. Dmitri Gerchikov, who works on the Technology Solutions team at JLL, explained at CoRETech2017, “utilization will dictate how well you use the space and will indicate your design.”

42% of corporate office space globally is underutilized or unused.

Employees are voting with their feet for the physical spaces they need, and companies like Microsoft are tallying the votes to inform office design. At CoRETech2017, Zobra Manolopoulos, ‎Global IoT Program Manager at Microsoft explained, “We want to know if the room is the right size, the right type, and if we have the right number of buildings. We used utilization data to reduce space requirements, and we saved enough money to pay for the utilization project and other projects too." Microsoft will likely leverage utilization data to inform the multibillion dollar overhaul of its main campus.

While firms like Microsoft are investing in their headquarters as a “home base,” companies are competing for employees’ time at their actual homes. Knoll’s research found that 37% percent of workers visit the office four days or less every week. This shift in attendance requires utilization data to effectively manage building systems and amenity services. Automating the heating and cooling of a building based on the number of occupants results in reduced energy consumption. The savings are significant; lighting, heating and cooling represent 13% of annual operating costs for corporate office buildings. Companies also limit waste to generate savings from amenity services. Victor Sanchez, Head of Global Workplace Engineering at LinkedIn asked the audience of CoRETech2017, "25% of employees come to work on Friday’s, why are we still preparing for the standard 60%-75%? Those savings translate to real value."

Corporate leaders are asking for utilization to optimize their real estate stack. This exercise is saving millions reducing excess costs, and generating millions improving employee productivity.