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Am I Running Out of Space? Identifying Space Shortages

April 1st, 2024 | 6 min. read

Am I Running Out of Space? Identifying Space Shortages
VergeSense

VergeSense

VergeSense is the industry leader in providing enterprises with a true understanding of their occupancy and how their offices are actually being used.

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As professionals step into their offices, they anticipate an environment characterized by consistency and predictability—a space where they can seamlessly access the resources necessary for productivity. However, reality often falls short of these expectations. 

Inefficiencies lurk within the layout, leading to wasted resources, squandered finances, and potentially, lost time. Understanding how different groups work is essential for creating effective and efficient workplaces. Yet many organizations find their current space mix doesn't align with their teams' diverse needs and workstyles. This misalignment leads to wasted space and also squanders valuable resources.

One common issue in global workplaces is space shortages. Despite utilization rates failing to return to pre-pandemic norms, complaints about space constraints persist. The question arises: are we genuinely running out of space, or are we just not maximizing our use of the space we already have? Before hastily considering the leasing of additional floors or buildings, it's important to pause and assess the root of this perceived shortage.

Let’s dive into the intricacies of identifying real versus perceived space shortages, and explore how occupancy intelligence can help you illuminate the true nature of these challenges. 

What is a Space Shortage?

A space shortage manifests when the capacity of your workplace is reached, leaving employees without access to available meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, or desks. It's the tangible realization of an imbalance between demand and supply within the office environment.

The impact of a space shortage extends far beyond mere inconvenience. Productivity takes a hit as employees struggle to secure suitable spaces for their tasks, leading to delays and frustrations. Moreover, the employee experience suffers a blow, with morale dampened by the constant struggle to locate a workspace conducive to concentration and collaboration.

Identifying Space Shortages 

It isn’t always easy to see the difference between an actual space shortage and a perceived space shortage. You must discern whether the issue stems from physical constraints within the workplace or from behavioral patterns among employees. After all, addressing a real estate problem necessitates vastly different solutions compared to tackling a behavioral one.

The key to making this distinction is occupancy data. In our experience, most companies are not truly running out of space. Instead, the designs and mix of spaces they’ve provided are not meeting the new preferences for in-office work. This can manifest in physical constraints like overcrowding, a scarcity of available meeting rooms, or in subtler behavioral cues such as employees habitually avoiding certain areas.

One of the telltale signs of a genuine space shortage is the utilization of space over time. You can uncover this information using the Occupancy Intelligence Platform by:

  • Using the Space Usage Timeline to identify availability trends and shortage events by location, time, and space types to make informed adjustments to design, policies, or amenities to optimize availability.
  • Leveraging space usage data to gauge the severity of space shortages and prioritize interventions accordingly.

While alternative methods such as badge, WiFi, or PIR sensors offer glimpses into workplace data, they fall short in providing the comprehensive and accurate information required to identify and address space shortages effectively. These conventional approaches offer snapshots of activity, but lack the granularity and depth necessary for robust decision-making. 

Addressing Space Shortages

You’ve identified a space shortage within your workplace. Now, you must address it. How?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for space shortages. Solving them is a multifaceted endeavor that’s based on the specific needs and dynamics of your workplace. 

Here are some immediate actions you can take to alleviate space shortages within your workplace:

  • Real Estate Solutions: If space shortages are occurring because your footprint is too small, you might choose to expand the physical footprint of the workspace by adding floors or reconfiguring existing layouts to accommodate growing demands. This often requires significant financial investments and logistical challenges, making it suitable primarily for scenarios where genuine spatial expansion is warranted.
  • Behavioral Solutions: If employee patterns and behaviors are causing space shortages in the office, you should focus on maximizing the efficiency and utilization of existing space. Repurposing underutilized areas into more popular space types can yield substantial gains. For example, we found that while desks are a common design element in offices around the world, employees are choosing to spend more time in collaboration spaces. This opens up an opportunity to repurpose some of that space, transforming desk areas for collaboration, team neighborhoods, or private space for video calls.
  • Space Booking Automation: Implementing automated booking systems can also help alleviate space shortages by freeing up additional space when meetings are ghosted. Real-time availability displayed on kiosks can facilitate wayfinding and reduce booking friction.

How VergeSense Empowers Confident Workspace Decisions

Occupancy data is key to knowing which solution is best for your workplace. The Occupancy Intelligence Platform gives workplace leaders a granular understanding of occupancy patterns and space utilization, enabling them to make informed decisions about space optimization and resource allocation. This means they can increase space availability and improve employee experience with occupancy intelligence derived from real-time and historical utilization data. These insights empower decisions like:

  • How to optimize spaces via design, policy, or amenities changes.
  • How to increase availability by viewing historical and real-time space usage data, and understanding availability trends, space type popularity, and space shortage patterns.
  • Ways to increase availability through space booking automation to improve the employee experience.
  • How to eliminate costs associated with wasted meeting space through space booking automation.

Real-life example: A global consulting firm saved $50K/month using VergeSense meeting room analysis and space booking automation. 

  • The Problem: The organization’s NYC office had a conference room shortage, according to employee feedback, and would need to consider adding another floor to build more meeting spaces. Before making a costly decision, workplace leaders asked themselves a crucial question: “Are we actually running out of conference rooms or is there a perception that we’re running out of conference rooms?”
  • The Findings: The data highlighted a trend of recurring meeting blocks set by Managing Directors. VergeSense’s analysis of meeting room usage during these blocks revealed that 40% of meetings were unattended, accounting for 10,400 hours of room bookings due to attendees being frequently out of the office.
  • The Solution: Instead of leasing more space, the company made their existing conference rooms more efficient by integrating Vergesense Space Booking Automation, which automatically released rooms that were booked, but had no attendees physically present. By automatically releasing these unused spaces, the firm realized an estimated cost avoidance of $50K/month.

Measuring the Impact of Workspace Decisions

It’s equally important to evaluate the outcomes of space optimization initiatives. Doing so provides valuable insights into their efficacy and allows for more informed decision-making moving forward. 

Here’s some ways to measure the success of your workspace decisions:

  • Cost Savings: Workplace leaders can measure success by evaluating cost savings achieved through avoiding the need to build new spaces. 
  • Higher ROI on Portfolio Costs: By leveraging occupancy intelligence to optimize space utilization, organizations can achieve a higher ROI on their portfolio costs. 
  • ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Impact: Space optimization initiatives can contribute to mitigating energy use and reducing carbon impact, aligning with ESG goals and demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.
  • ESAT (Employee Satisfaction): By reducing ghosted space and releasing excess meeting time, organizations can enhance employee experience and satisfaction levels, fostering a more productive and harmonious work environment.

Conclusion

We've highlighted the significance of distinguishing between real and perceived space shortages, emphasizing the pivotal role of data in informing strategic decisions. We've delved into the most effective strategies for identifying and mitigating space shortages, and highlighted the impact of occupancy intelligence from VergeSense in empowering confident workspace decisions.

To recap, using VergeSense, you can: 

  • Identify real space shortages and help you solve for perceived ones.
  • Optimize spaces via design, policy, or amenities changes.
  • Understand space availability by viewing historical and real-time space usage, space type popularity, and space shortage patterns.
  • Increase space availability through space booking automation to improve the employee experience.
  • Eliminate costs associated with wasted space, and prevent unnecessary and costly real estate decisions like adding more square footage to an office. 


It’s vital for workplace leaders to proactively address space shortages, recognizing them not merely as obstacles but as opportunities for improvement. Ready to take the next step in optimizing your workplace and gaining valuable insights into space utilization patterns? Explore the Space Usage Timeline. Click here to learn more and start maximizing the potential of your workspace today.