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No Need to Get Spaced Out

18 March 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

Making alternative workplace strategies work for space planners is examined by Chris D’Souza of ARCHIBUS Inc.

Alternative Workplace Strategies (AWS) are, in reality, not alternative anymore as raw savings in property and maintenance costs can be realised simply as a result of scaling down the utilised space in most AWS implementations.

Simple, practical steps adopted for alternative workplace deployments, e.g. hoteling and team spaces, can yield even richer dividends in greater cost savings, faster adoption by users and higher productivity.

Here are some of my top simple and practical steps that can be applied to two widely adopted Alternative Workplace Strategies.



Designate specific rooms for hoteling – exclude them from assignment as permanent offices. By doing so, the FM can more accurately monitor room utilisation and use the information to adjust the number of designated hotel rooms, based on demand. For example, consider a project that employed external consultants has just ended and the consultants have moved out of their hotel rooms. The FM can decide if the freed rooms must be kept on or taken off the hoteling room list.

Cluster hotel rooms – with hoteled rooms clustered, FMs can find and view room reservation and occupancy details faster within an enterprise-class, automated space management system that provides graphical views and tabular details about room occupancy. Clustering simplifies occupancy reports and lessens the need to print individual reports or floor plans for isolated hotel rooms. Familiarity with the cluster helps occupants locate hotel rooms faster.

Simplify the room booking process – this promotes faster adoption. Implement an efficient workflow that begins with a request for a hotel room and ends with the release of it. Provide a ‘self-service’ booking capability within your space management system. With self-service, the requestor’s booking is immediately granted or automatically routed for approval from an approving manager specified in the workflow.

Use hotel performance metrics to meet your objectives – ensure that your space management system is implemented to automatically calculate and generate the desired metrics using the space and occupancy data stored in the system. This automatic and instant availability of metrics information will save you hours and likely days of tedious manual calculations.

In addition, hoteling is a valuable lever that can be used to improve space utilisation and occupancy rates for an entire portfolio of buildings. A well designed, enterprise class space management system that provides easy-to-follow graphical and numeric data on building occupancy rates with hoteled rooms can be immensely useful for this purpose.

For a given building, monitor the occupancy rate with hoteled rooms included, and separately with them excluded. If the overall building occupancy rate with hoteled rooms shows the desired improvement over the occupancy rate without them, this can indicate that hoteling is an appropriate workplace strategy for the building.

Factor in custodial and maintenance scheduling – servicing custodial and maintenance work for hoteled rooms can present scheduling conflicts. By utilising scheduling windows within your FM management system, custodial and maintenance staff can plan their work for these hoteled rooms, accordingly.

When hotel-designated rooms are set up in a cluster, custodial and maintenance staff may be able to service multiple hoteled rooms in a single visit, saving time and lowering the labour costs for the facility.


Team spaces

Team spaces allow team members to move freely within the team space and exchange information with others.They can meet in smaller informal groups within the space without having to depend on the availability of a designated meeting room.

Team spaces, by their very design, do not provide occupancy information about each seat within the team space. Thus, FMs do not have to manage the allocation or monitor the availability of individual seats within the team space. This reduces the FM’s workload.

However, one challenge must be addressed – emergency preparedness plans must specify adequate procedures to ensure that team space occupants can be accounted for during an emergency.


Maximising space

Let us look at some useful ways to maximise the benefits of team spaces:


Understand team requirements before allocating team space – a team space must meet the needs of an entire team. Reversing inappropriate assignment of a team space is considerably more disruptive to the organisation than reversing the assignment of a single room to an occupant.

Hence, take the time to discuss the needs of the team with the team leader or project manager. These needs might be common to the entire group, e.g. requiring close proximity to another team in the same building. Individual team members might have unique needs, e.g. requiring convenient access to the handicap accessible bathroom. Such an understanding of occupant needs applies to the allocation of hoteled rooms as well.

Team space occupancy characteristics have an impact on employee/seat ratios –individual teams have different occupancy characteristics. Consider each team’s occupancy characteristics when determining the employee-to-seat ratio for each team. Also, a team that has smaller subsets of members occupying the space at a given time might be assigned a higher ratio, while a team of identical headcount but with a larger subset of members occupying the same space at a given time, may be assigned a lower employee-to-seat ratio.

Monitor and adjust – occupancy changes within a team space may occur due to a variety of reasons – a team member joins or leaves the team, or the maximum number of team members occupying the space at a given time changes. Both these cases might require a reconfiguration of the employee-to-seat ratio.

In the former case, your space management system should automatically calculate the most current employee-to-seat ratio when team headcount changes and the FM can decide if the newly calculated ratio meets the team needs.

In the latter case, team space headcount has not changed, even though the maximum number of team members occupying the space at a given time has. To meet this challenge, you can conduct a periodic audit of team spaces to obtain current occupancy status.

Picture: Efficient use of space in flexible working environments is the key to optimising time and resources

Article written by Chris D'Souza | Published 18 March 2016


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