Almost every business is shifting these days. Hybrid work and market fluctuations are only a small number of factors that create a dynamic workplace situation that needs addressing almost daily by some companies. Do you have enough space? Is it used efficiently? Do you need to expand or shrink? Does your office accommodate your employees’ needs?
Scaling your office correctly can be difficult, especially when you’re not sure where to start or how to continue. However, by relying on actual data, you can make informed decisions that will help your business thrive. In this article, we’ll discuss how to acquire the right data and use it in your decision-making, to optimize your workspace and make it worth your while.
What does workspace scaling even mean?
Workspace scaling refers to the process of adjusting the amount of physical space, equipment, and resources a business has to meet the current and future needs of the organization. This can include scaling up to accommodate growth or scaling down to reduce costs during downturns. It also includes optimizing the design and layout of the workspace to improve efficiency and collaboration among employees and ensuring that the workspace is equipped with the necessary technology and resources to support the work being done.
Why is this process necessary?
Real estate is a resource like any other and for you as a business owner, scaling is important because it can help you to better manage costs, increase productivity, and improve employee satisfaction by utilizing this resource properly. Here are some compelling points about the importance of proper scaling:
- By having the right amount of workspace for their current and future needs, businesses can avoid overspending on unnecessary office space or equipment.
- Additionally, having the right amount of space can help to reduce distractions and increase collaboration among employees, leading to increased productivity.
- Finally, a well-designed workspace can also improve employee satisfaction, which can help to reduce turnover and attract top talent to the company.
This last point is as important as it is overlooked. It may sound like a long stretch but think about it. From an employee’s point of view, having a defined workplace, it is much easier to focus and get down to the task at hand. This may be easier to achieve at home and remote workers benefit, but even for them, this is not always possible. Having a dedicated workspace helps get employees into the right headspace to work. Feeling comfortable in the place where you spend most of the day can play a bigger role in your productivity and satisfaction even from the pay. A quiet, relaxed office environment can support this and this can be achieved by modifying the office layout.
In the end, the most efficient use of the space is a balance between cost and functionality. You don’t want to overspend, but at the same time it is vital to keep your employees happy so they remain productive.
Agreeing that proper scaling of the workspace is indeed important begs the question: How to do that?
We will break it down into five steps. The processes in each are crucial to achieving results but implementation may vary.
Office scaling: how-to?
Step 1: Collect and sort the data
The first step in optimizing your workspace is to find the right data to collect and do it. You need to know which metrics are relevant and how best to collect them so you build a data set that can later be processed to get insight. How exactly will you do that depends entirely on you, but there is an easy way. Use technology to your advantage. Occupancy sensors can provide information on how your office is being used, such as how many people are in each room and how long they stay there. Is there a lot of movement, periods with no presence at all, and overcrowding?
A booking tool can show you how often certain rooms are being reserved, especially meeting rooms. This is also useful for coworking spaces and any other type of space that is not used with a strict schedule.
Monitoring environmental conditions can also give you some insight into how the space is used. If it is too noisy or too much CO2 is generated you probably need more space or at least better HVAC.
There are sensors for pretty much everything these days and automated data gathering is more efficient than employee surveys and manual observation. However, the fact that technology makes data gathering faster, doesn’t mean that rushing the process is the way to go. Take some time to gather a good amount of data. Having more of it is never bad, so plan this first step for a period that includes enough sample material. Workspace usage may vary between mornings and afternoons, between Monday and Friday, between the beginning of the month and the end of it, and even between the different seasons.
Step 2: Analyze the data and identify problem areas
If the gathered data is too overwhelming to process a data analytics platform can help you make sense of all this information. It can be tailored specifically to your needs. It will gather and process the data in real-time, make sense of it, help you make more informed decisions, and sometimes even act on them automatically.
Analyzing the data gathered in the first step can lead to identifying problem areas in your office or another type of space. For example, if you find that a certain room is underutilized, you may want to consider shrinking the size of that space. On the other hand, if you find that a particular space is frequently overbooked, you may want to consider expanding it. With enough information and the right tools, you can also identify patterns that may not be immediately obvious, such as peak usage times or areas of the office that are frequently left unoccupied. Take note of what the current problems are and what potential problems might occur.
Step 3: Make a plan
Once you have identified problem areas, you can make a plan to optimize your workspace. This may involve moving specific teams or whole departments to different areas of the office or reconfiguring a particular space’s layout. You can also use the data and the newly obtained knowledge to predict future usage patterns and make plans accordingly. For example, if you know that your office will be busier at certain times of the year, you can plan to expand your space before those busy periods or make a decision on which team members to leave working remotely and which at the office. Keep in mind that the plan may need to change as new information emerges.
Step 4: Implement the plan
Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to implement it. This may involve making changes to the physical layout of your office, such as adding or removing walls, or it may involve making changes to the way that your teams work, such as implementing a booking system, hybrid work, changes in working hours, and shifting schedules. With IoT, you can also use automation to make these changes, such as using smart lighting to automatically adjust the lighting in a room based on occupancy or using smart HVAC to adjust the temperature based on usage patterns.
Step 5: Monitor and adjust
Finally, it’s essential to monitor and adjust your plan as needed. When your plan is implemented, step back and observe. The changes that will happen may not be exactly what you wanted so you will need to adjust some of your actions. Take note that it is usually easier to control the outcome when the changes are introduced in smaller increments. However, this is true only if you have the whole picture in mind. This may involve collecting and analyzing additional data or doing so regularly to ensure that your office is being used as efficiently as possible. Make the most of your data and use it not only to fix your current problems but also to use predictive analytics to anticipate patterns and make adjustments accordingly.
Bonus step: Repeat
The five steps above may give you the insight needed and empower you to action, but never forget that things are always shifting and changing, workspace optimization is an iterative process. The decision you make today may be perfect for the situation now but not be so good in a year. So? Be flexible. Nothing is set in stone; you can repeat those five steps as often as needed. This is the biggest advantage of real-time IoT monitoring systems, they show you both real-time changes and long-term trends so you can stay on top of your game and adjust as needed.
How does this translate into practice?
Imagine a software development company that wants to optimize its space usage in the office because it experiences irregular usage of certain spaces that leads to problems like workflow collisions. It can use a booking app to track the reservation of conference rooms, and the data analytics platform can show that one conference room is being used more often than others. Then, figure out why. Let’s say it is because that room better accommodates specific types of tasks that are a big part of the whole workflow. Based on this information, the company can decide to expand that conference room and make it larger to accommodate more people. Or make changes to the other room so it fits the same criteria. The company may decide that the second room is not needed at all and/or repurpose it to something more likely to be beneficial as a type of space.
The good thing is that such an approach applies to other types of workspaces not only offices and administrative areas. It can be used in all sorts of optimization strategies, even staff and service management.
For example, if a retail store wants to optimize its space usage in the store, it can install occupancy sensors to track how many customers are in the store at different times of the day. By analyzing this data, the store owner can see that most customers come in the afternoon, so they can plan to have more staff working during that time. Additionally, the store owner can use the data to see which sections of the store are getting the most foot traffic and make decisions on how to best use that space. With IoT, the store owner can also use sensors to track customer behavior to make decisions on which products to stock more of.
By following these steps, businesses can optimize their workspace and make informed decisions about scaling their office. By relying on actual data, you can ensure that your office is being used as efficiently as possible and that your business is set up for success. Furthermore, this valuable insight can be used in a more long-term manner, where it is used as a decision-making base when an entirely new space is constructed or rented.
Disclaimer: We wrote this article for OpenSensors. You can read it there if you prefer. Our sole purpose is to make the information more accessible 🙂