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Deciding Whether to Decommission a Floor with Occupancy Intelligence

June 3rd, 2024 | 7 min. read

Deciding Whether to Decommission a Floor with Occupancy Intelligence


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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Between hybrid work and increased pressure to cut costs, organizations are re-evaluating their real estate needs to ensure every square foot of office space is utilized effectively. One significant step in this process is deciding whether to decommission an underutilized floor.

Unused office space can be a substantial drain on resources and finances. Beyond this, it can also impact a company's Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals, as maintaining and heating unused areas contributes to a larger carbon footprint.

However, decommissioning a floor or part of a floor is a major decision that requires careful consideration. In this blog, we will explore how to determine if decommissioning is the right choice for your organization and discuss alternative steps you can take to optimize your office layout. By leveraging occupancy intelligence, you can make informed decisions that enhance your company’s operational efficiency and sustainability.

Identifying Unused Space: Recognizing Opportunities for Optimization

The first step in deciding whether to decommission part of your space is to identify areas of your office that are underutilized. Here’s how to do this: 

1. Conducting Space Audits and Assessments

Space audits thoroughly examine your office layout, including the frequency and duration of usage of each area. These audits can highlight discrepancies between a space's intended use and its actual usage. By systematically evaluating every corner of your office, you can pinpoint which areas are thriving hubs of activity and which are collecting dust.

2. Utilizing Occupancy Data to Identify Underutilized Areas

Leveraging occupancy data allows you to gain a true understanding of how your office space is being utilized. It gives you historical and real-time insights into how employees use the workplace, including which areas are frequently used and which remain empty. This can inform important CRE decisions based on facts, not assumptions, such as decommissioning an underused floor.

3. Analyzing Trends and Patterns in Space Usage

To make an informed decision based on occupancy data, you must first analyze trends and patterns in your space usage. You can look for consistent underutilization over time, not just occasional dips in activity. Identifying these patterns can help you understand whether certain areas are underused due to seasonal fluctuations, specific times of the day, or broader shifts in work habits.

Benefits of Decommissioning: Streamlining Operations and Costs

Why exactly should you consider decommissioning a floor or space in your office? If an area is underutilized, decommissioning it can bring several significant benefits to your organization, from cost savings to enhanced sustainability. Here are the key advantages:

Reduced Operational Expenses

  • Lower Maintenance Costs: By decommissioning unused space, you can significantly cut down on maintenance expenses such as cleaning, repairs, and general upkeep.
  • Decreased Overhead: Reducing the amount of space you need to manage can lower costs associated with security, IT infrastructure, and administrative support.
  • Optimized Resource Allocation: Savings from decommissioning can be reallocated to more productive areas, such as investing in employee well-being or upgrading technology.

Increased Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

  • Lower Energy Consumption: Fewer occupied floors mean reduced energy usage for heating, cooling, and lighting, leading to lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Enhanced ESG Performance: Decommissioning aligns with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals by promoting sustainable practices and reducing the environmental impact of your office operations.
  • Sustainability Reporting: Improved energy efficiency can be showcased in sustainability reports, enhancing your company's reputation and appeal to eco-conscious stakeholders.

Opportunities for Redesign and Repurposing of Space

  • Flexible Workspace Solutions: Decommissioned areas can be redesigned to create flexible, multipurpose spaces that better meet the needs of a hybrid workforce.
  • Employee-Centric Design: Freed-up space can be repurposed into amenities that enhance employee experience, such as collaborative zones or quiet areas.
  • Future-Proofing: Adapting and repurposing space based on usage trends ensures your office remains agile and responsive to future changes in work patterns.

Drawbacks of Decommissioning: Potential Challenges and Considerations

While there are benefits to decommissioning space, there are also drawbacks. Decommissioning a floor is a huge decision, and it comes with potential challenges and considerations that must be carefully evaluated. Here are the key drawbacks:

Disruption to Workflow and Employee Morale

  • Temporary Disruption: The process of decommissioning can temporarily disrupt daily operations and workflows, causing inconvenience to employees.
  • Employee Adjustment: Employees may need time to adjust to new workspaces or schedules, which can initially reduce productivity and increase stress.
  • Resistance to Change: Some employees may feel uncomfortable with the changes, which can lead to decreased morale and potential resistance.

Financial Implications and Potential Loss of Investment

  • Decommissioning Costs: The process of decommissioning itself can be costly, including expenses for moving, storage, and reconfiguring remaining spaces.
  • Write-Offs and Depreciation: Any remaining lease obligations or investments in the decommissioned space may need to be written off, leading to financial losses.
  • Future Expansion Limitations: Decommissioning reduces available space, which might limit future expansion opportunities if business needs change.

Impact on Company Culture and Collaboration

  • Loss of Community Spaces: Decommissioning may result in the loss of communal areas that foster informal interactions and collaboration.
  • Impact on Team Dynamics: Relocating teams or downsizing space can affect team cohesion and the collaborative culture of the workplace.
  • Perception of Downsizing: Employees might perceive decommissioning as a sign of financial instability or downsizing, which can impact overall company culture and employee engagement.

Leveraging Occupancy Intelligence for Informed Choices

With so many pros and cons to decommissioning space, it’s crucial to make the right decision and to be able to back it up with proof points and reasoning. Leveraging occupancy intelligence provides valuable insights into space usage patterns, helping you understand employee behavior and make strategic changes. 

Here’s how you can use occupancy data to guide your decision on whether to decommission a floor.

Utilizing Occupancy Analytics to Understand Space Usage Patterns

Occupancy analytics tools, such as the Occupancy Intelligence Platform, provide comprehensive data on how office spaces are used. By analyzing real-time and historical utilization data, you can identify which areas are frequently used and which are underutilized. This data helps in creating a clear picture of space usage patterns, enabling you to make informed decisions about space optimization.

Occupancy intelligence also helps you understand the qualitative reasons behind underused spaces. For instance, employees might avoid certain areas due to lack of necessary technology, insufficient privacy, or poor environmental conditions. By pinpointing these issues, you can implement targeted changes to encourage more effective use of different spaces.

Key Occupancy Intelligence Tools

  • Workplace Assistant: This newly launched, AI-powered solution utilizes your data to make personalized recommendations, enhancing and accelerating decision-making. Receive analysis and recommendations tailored to your specific needs within minutes— a process that traditionally takes weeks or months. 
  • Space Usage Timeline: This feature allows you to track space usage across space types, floors, and buildings over different periods, such as days, weeks, or months. This helps you understand availability trends and identify times when certain spaces are most or least used.
  • Space Booking Automation: This feature includes VergeSense-native integrations with some of the leading collaboration and reservation tools, including Google Calendar, Office 365, Robin, Teem, Condeco, and more. You can now automate the booking and release of spaces based on real-time occupancy data to reduce wasted space and ensure optimal use.
  • Usage Maps: See how different spaces are used within the context of your floor plan. This helps in comparing actual usage to intended capacity and making necessary adjustments.
  • IoT Sensors: Deploy sensors to anonymously gather real-time data on space occupancy. This data can be integrated with other systems to automate various workplace operations.

Making Informed Decisions for a Better Office Space

Deciding whether to decommission office space involves weighing various factors to ensure you make the best choice for your organization. Here are the key points to consider:

  • Conduct Comprehensive Space Audits: Thoroughly evaluate your office layout and space usage. Identify underutilized areas and understand usage patterns.
  • Leverage Occupancy Data: Utilize real-time and historical data to make informed decisions. Understand employee behavior and reasons for underused spaces.
  • Consider the Benefits and Drawbacks: Benefits include reduced operational expenses, increased energy efficiency, and opportunities for redesign. Drawbacks include a potential disruption to workflow, financial implications, and impact on company culture.
  • Explore Alternatives to Decommissioning: Consider flexible workspace arrangements like hot-desking and remote work. You can also configure spaces and create shared areas or neighborhoods, or optimize operations by shutting down spaces on least popular days.

Ultimately, the goal is to optimize your office space in a way that supports your organization's objectives while promoting a positive and productive work environment. 

Want to learn more about effective decision making? Read our blog on transforming workplace experience with AI.