In any office, desks comprise of almost 60%-70% of the occupied area. Desks are where staff does most of their work while meeting rooms are used for collaboration and discussions. While meeting rooms usually have very high usage rates with constant complaints of not enough to go around, desk usage generally goes unmeasured. This is mainly due to meeting room booking systems that have always been available for staff to book because they are a shared resource. However, it has not been the case for desk bookings.
Even today, in most organizations, desks are permanently assigned to a specific staff without really knowing how frequently it is being occupied. For example, a field support engineer or sales executive is assigned a seat but hardly ever occupies it. That specific desk remains vacant most of the time while it is still being paid for.
While such wastage was not considered to have a major impact on the company’s bottom line before, times have changed. Today, this kind of wastage can no longer be overlooked.
Companies are transitioning to become more nimble due to changing market conditions such as more demand for office spaces brought on by co-working spaces and increasing rental costs.
Rapid changes in market conditions require the need to not be locked down into longer-term leasing. The current pandemic has shown that sudden changes to market conditions result in large swaths of office space being unused due to the forced work-from-home (WFH) and safe distancing policies.
As we progress towards the future, employees and companies have become more comfortable with being able to choose where to work. This is better known as the hybrid workplace. Now, the expectation of the workforce to be able to choose where and when to work has given rise to the need to evaluate space requirements that can vary with business conditions. So, it becomes critical to start measuring the usage of desk space as it is no longer financially viable to have dead spaces.
Office space expenses form a large component of the company’s operating expenses second only to employee expenses. Given the challenges faced by the company from various fronts, maximizing the usage of desks becomes essential to get the most out of the office space.
To improve space usage, the first step is to start measuring desk usage. With today’s technologies, it has become cost-effective and easy to implement tools like a desk booking system that can help track, measure, and optimize such usage. With a desk booking system, offices can derive several benefits which are listed in the sections below.
Here are 4 benefits of using a desk booking system in the office to better manage their utilization and maximize the office space investment.
1. Measuring Usage and Occupancy
Measuring usage and occupancy is the first step towards understanding how your office space is used and how it could be optimized. For example:
- By requiring staff to reserve desks before coming to work, offices can better determine the usage and occupancy of the space.
- The ability to find and locate free spaces and reserve them in advance or to locate colleagues to work together on projects. This enables staff to make informed decisions on where to book desks rather than occupy one desk and then sit in another location to work with a colleague.
- Ability to implement policies such as checking in and out of desks to capture actual usage instead of assuming that the employee sits there the whole time. If your sales personnel are mostly in the field and only need to come to the office for short periods, then they can reserve desks for the duration of their stay in the office.
- Ability to proactively release desks that are reserved but not occupied so that they can be used by someone else.
- When combined with an occupancy sensor, real-time information on the usage of these spaces can be captured.
These capabilities of the desk booking system provide valuable insights into how your office space is being used. The information captured can lead to better analysis.
2. Better Insights for Analysis
With all the data that a desk booking system can generate, new insights into the occupancy and utilization of the office space can be extracted. Information such as:
- Utilization rates and patterns help determine the demand and supply of desks versus staff.
- Occupancy rates determine how efficiently the space is being used.
- No Shows and auto-cancellation reports provide valuable insights into the level of space abuse.
With such information on hand, you can have a more informed planning session that can proactively manage the office space.
3. Proactive Planning
Once you have insights into how your desks are being used, you can use the desk booking system to further adjust the policy, rules, and enforcement that can help optimize the space. For example:
- Establishing limits to the booking such as lead times and advance booking window periods prevents users from booking way in advance and then forgetting about the need for the space.
- Controlling the days of the week or times of the day when desks are available allows for scheduled cleaning or sanitization.
- Better zoning and planning desk allocation to different departments, projects, or groups based on demand helps to control access to desks.
- Bringing in tighter security through access rights permissions and visibility levels help keep track of staff movement or presence to assist in contact tracing or prevent unnecessary intermingling and exposure, especially during the times of pandemic.
The information gathered from usage can provide a feedback loop into better planning of space usage by using a variety of levers to adjust space needs. This leads to better decision-making.
4. Improved Financial Performance
With better insights and controls combined with proper data-based planning, important management questions like:
- How much space capacity is needed for future growth?
- Is there a possibility of improving utilization by readjusting seating to accommodate future growth?
- What is the impact of moving to a hybrid workplace?
Such management-level questions can be answered with factual and real-life information rather than guesstimates. These decisions directly may affect the bottom line of the company.
Desk booking systems have become a necessity for companies that need to closely monitor and maximize their space investment while helping staff be more productive at work. With the growth in the hybrid workplace environment, a desk-for-each-staff is no longer financially viable. With a desk booking system, offices can maximize the space that they have.