Optimise your space in an agile working environment
As is the way in many organisations, since starting at Excitech, I have had an allocated desk, yet sit writing this blog at home, spend a considerable amount of time on client sites assisting customers or pitching to new prospects, and am occasionally allowed to take some annual leave.
How is my desk utilised when I’m not in? Apart from the occasional visit from somebody needing to discuss something with my neighbour Gavin (probably more use of my chair than desk) – I would imagine very poorly.
Excitech have traditionally had plenty of space after moving into our large offices at Enfield in 2010. With year on year growth and especially strong growth in 2018, space is finally beginning to become an issue, especially when large internal or company meetings are taking place. What are the options for 2019?
What does it mean for a company to adopt agile working?
- Purchase more space, which can be very expensive
- Work smarter and adopt more agile working practices that are easy, efficient and cost effective
Companies can adopt several different agile working practices in order to maximise the utilisation of their space and employee efficiency. The most common and simple ‘agile’ practice adopted is to simply allow employees to work from home, not only can this increase space in the office, but reduce wasted commute time and ensure a peaceful work environment for executing certain tasks.
A move to non-assigned working spaces can also have significant benefits, companies have redefined previously allocated desks as hot desks, pods, lounges, team meeting space, relaxation space, telephone conversation space, etc. to better meet the needs of employees and the organisation.
In most working environments hot-desking and hoteling (where common space is booked before attending the office) ensures a much higher rate of desk utilisation than the traditional names-to-desk approach. Even if employees are all office based and due to come in every day there will likely be 10%-15% of desks which are unused due to annual leave and sick days.
A shared space strategy must be adopted in different ways depending on the organisation, their sector, different departments and the framework of restrictions that they need to operate within. For example, it is generally simple for sales teams to adopt this type of strategy, with ‘x’ hot desks required to serve ‘y’ sales people as they pop in and out of the office. They all work in a similar way, they don’t tend to work on anything particularly confidential and don’t tend to have the need to store hard copies of documents.
Trying to apply this type of strategy at a law firm or financial institution is much more difficult. There can be complex restrictions around who sits next to who, multiple internal networks, highly confidential information and the need to store hard copy documents in specific locations in order to stay compliant. With both the simple and the complex scenarios, space and moves management software can really help.
How can technology help?
You can link space management software to utilisation sensors, which can help identify and prove the need for change.
Recently I have been approached by estate management teams at several Universities and NHS trusts highlighting the same thing, they know they have underutilised space but are not being allowed to do anything with it. They know consultants and lecturers are busy people who aren’t in their offices even 25% of the working week, so why do they have a need for their own – quite often sizeable – dedicated space, when these institutions are in severe need of extra room.
Deploying sensors to these rooms on a short-term basis and reporting the findings through the space management software will allow users to prove their case and get the support they need to make changes to the way that space is used.
Once agile working practices have been implemented space and moves management software can be used to track and report on availability of space and desks, live hot-desking/hotelling, team groups, ratios of staff to desks and availability of resources at each desk or room. The software can store any constraints as required, to ensure teams requiring privacy or certain facilities are moved in to appropriate areas only, teams with potential conflicts aren’t sat next to each other and individuals are sat at desks with the appropriate network access and requirements.
Adopting agile working practices can have a number of benefits in addition to reducing space costs per person and improving efficiency. Allowing for more inventive use of space can make the working environment more enjoyable, this can give an edge over competitors when trying to attract and retain talent. Providing more creative and collaborative spaces may also lead to an increase in team creativity and productivity.
In addition to supporting agile working, adopting space and moves management software can help you improve utilisation of space, ensure accurate space chargeback, and streamline large and small moves processes to minimise organisational disruption.
Excitech FM, the space and moves management software, can help you achieve all of this. Find out more here: