Space management is a very well-known concept that’s been around forever. So, why discuss it now? Well, because the way we work and how we use office space has changed quite dramatically lately.

Most companies are adopting hybrid work models. Some are committed to returning to the old normal where people work 5 days a week in the office. Whether you allow flexible working or not, space management is key to ensuring a great workplace experience and reducing your real estate costs. You can easily do both if you manage your space properly. Alternatively, you can go fully remote. You only need to subscribe your teams for coworking memberships and forget about space management altogether. You will rely on the awesome services that most coworking spaces provide. We will dig into this option in another post.

If you’re not ready to give up on your awesome space though, continue reading to learn how to improve your space management capabilities.

What is space management?

Simply stated, space management consists of the processes and tools involved with the management of an organization’s physical space inventory.

At a high level, the management of your space includes tracking and maintaining your space and occupancy information—identifying who sits where, understanding how much space your organization has, how it’s actually being used, and projecting and forecasting how much real estate you will need in the future.

Every organization has its own processes in place to manage its facility and real estate portfolio. Some will use basic tools to keep track of the information, like excel. Others may use more advanced and purpose build software solutions like stand-alone space management systems, booking tools, IWMS, or CAFM.

Why you should pay attention to space management now?

Managing your space well is key to bringing people together back in the workplace. It can mean the difference between an empty office and a buzzing one. As we mentioned, the world has changed. Technology that allows us to work remotely has improved so much that we don’t really need to be in the office to do most of our work. If we’re coming to the office, it just has to be thoughtful, organized and managed well. Especially, if we’re adopting a flexible and hybrid way of working, things can easily go out of order. If done right, the benefits of space management greatly exceed the investment in processes and tools. It will allow you to:

  • Build a workplace that is flexible and can adapt to meet the business ever-changing needs of space;
  • Help employees find the space they need to do focused or collaborative work;
  • Create a space where company culture can be emphasized and thrive;
  • Save office admins time by using the right tools that reduce manual work;
  • Gain insights and spot trends in how people use your space so you can make improvements to underutilized spaces;
  • Right-size your company’s fixed real estate investments

There are plenty of reasons why you should pay attention and improve your space management processes and tools. Even minor changes can improve the workplace experience for your employees. To build a better workplace, you need to adopt the right processes first.

4 process improvements to manage your space

The first step to improving how you manage space is to embrace flexibility. The office is no longer static and is planned for the next decade or so. The office space of the future is a never-ending evolution that should serve well the dynamic needs of the business. It has to constantly adapt to people’s needs and so our processes should be flexible too. So where do we start?

1 – Improve Meeting Space Management

We can start with improving how we manage meeting spaces. Why? With hybrid work, many employees are coming to the office to collaborate with colleagues and take meetings in person instead of on Zoom. However, people will still have a lot of calls throughout the day which oftentimes requires a meeting or quiet space. The meeting spaces that were empty through the majority of the pandemic are now in high demand and becoming the workplace’s hottest resource.

The two main goals to improve your meeting room management processes are increased utilization and improved employee workplace experience. We all have bad memories of taking laps around the office trying to find a meeting space or any space where we can take our zoom call. That’s one of the most stressful experiences in the office. You can start by introducing more phone booths, and purpose build meeting spaces, organizing them well, or introducing proper scheduling solutions. Read here our 21 meeting room management ideas to improve your workplace.

2 – Improve Desk (and Office) Management

Improving desk and office management processes should be your top priority today. As most companies are moving toward flexible working, more and more are adopting shared desks and shared spaces. Introducing hot desking or desk hoteling can have a massively positive impact on both objectives of space management – increasing employee workplace experience as well as reducing your office costs. However, it’s not a simple process to introduce a shared desk policy in your organization. You need to carefully establish the process and make sure your teams follow it properly. You can start by incorporating our hot desk policy template. Start small, pilot with a few teams or an office, and then expand as you see how things are working for your organization and teams.

3 – Improve Reception Management

The reception is a key element of every space as it’s giving the first impression not just to new employees and visitors but your teams too. You should consider different ideas to greet your team members with fresh fruits, or other healthy treats. Furthermore, in order to plan your space, you need to know who’s coming in, when’s coming in, and how often. You can collect this information using a notebook, excel file, or a visitor management system. Either way, you need this data in order to fully understand how your space is being used which is essential to space management and planning.

4 – Introduce Agile Space Planning and Analytics

Office space planning is the process of organizing the workplace layout, furniture, and office functions to work effectively together while using space efficiently. Starting from the workplace layout, we’re seeing a huge spike in interest and adoption of activity-based working using office neighborhoods. Although these concepts are not new, they’ve been incorporated by many space management professionals lately due to the adoption of hybrid and flexible work. In short, activity-based working is emphasizing why are we coming to the office which will define the type of space we need. For example, if we’re working on a new project in the early stage, we may need to work in a collaborative/brainstorming space with the team. We can facilitate that by planning the space for agility. We can offer different types of spaces that are available for reservation based on the type of work people are doing. Of course, the most important element of every agile process is to measure the outcomes and adjust using proper analytics.

4 tools you need to manage your space

To build a space that meets business and employee needs, you need data. A lot of data. Using modern space management tools will ensure your space is used efficiently and supports your employees.

Real-time and historical records will help you spot usage patterns and heatmaps. It will justify a reduction of space or maybe expenditures. Most of all, it will allow you to improve the workplace experience for everyone. If you understand how people use your space, you can improve it to suit their needs. Here are four tools you can use to understand how people use your workplace so you can better manage your space.

1 – Meeting room scheduling software

Meeting room scheduling systems have always been with us one way or another. We’ve all been through the pain of using Microsoft Exchange, Outlook, or Google Calendar to ‘reserve’ meeting ‘resources’. These systems are not built for the purpose of room booking though and as a result, the employee experience is very subpar, to say it mildly.

The focus of the professional conference room scheduling systems of the future though is more about scheduling meetings in an easy way and providing outstanding employee work experience. Technology is so deeply ingrained in our life and so the workplace must be. However, in order to get there, meeting scheduling apps have to be at least as good as the apps we use on a daily basis, if not better.

2 – Desk booking system

Desk booking systems allow employees to easily book workspaces for a day, a week, or maybe make it recurring following a pattern. The most important part of the process is to make the booking experience fully integrated into the technology stack of the organization. For example, if you’re using Microsoft, then your hot desk booking software should be available in TeamsMicrosoft 365, as well as Outlook. If you’re using Google, then the workspace scheduling platform should be fully integrated with Google CalendarGoogle Workspace, or Google Chrome. Other essential elements are a web portal and easy to use mobile app. Together, all of these systems and integrations will increase the adoption and improve the experience, therefore, the benefits you can gain from utilizing hot desking.

Well-integrated hot desk booking solution can enhance the workplace experience for employees, and streamline internal operations, by bringing everything work-related into one solution.

3 – Reception app

Using a good reception management system can streamline your workplace management and improve employees’ and guests’ experience. Some of the key features you should look for in a good reception app are:

  • Collecting visitor information on entry with a tablet app
  • Allowing for contactless sign-in
  • Mail and delivery management
  • Advanced notification system for employees

The really good reception apps provide a delightful experience to both guests and employees.

4 – Workplace analytics

Last but not least, if you’re adopting hybrid or flexible working, you most definitely need a strong workplace analytics system.

Most analytics solutions come with all the reports and dashboards you need to track space utilization, occupancy, and people’s workspace engagement. For example, using workplace analytics you will be able to:

  • Understand your space: get detailed insights that can support the evolution of your space
  • Inspire user satisfaction: deliver a workspace that meets your teams’ needs and improves their productivity
  • Improve office layout: reshape office spaces to adapt to your business needs

Great workplaces are the result of great space management. By getting organized, adopting the best space management processes, and using modern technology, you can significantly increase employees’ workplace satisfaction and reduce your real estate costs.

What to learn more about the hybrid workplace? Download our new ebook, Guidelines and Policies for Optimizing Your Hybrid Workplace!

Miro Miroslavov
CEO and Co-founder of OfficeRnD
Miro Miroslavov is a software engineer turned into a tech entrepreneur. In 2015 he co-founded OfficeRnD - a leading flex space and hybrid work management platform. As a CEO at OfficeRnD, he grew the company from inception to a leading software vendor that serves thousands of customers worldwide. He is a big fan of flexible working and is on a mission to "Making Flexible Working the Way of Working".