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Space Availability 101: Space Shortages

April 8th, 2024 | 5 min. read

Space Availability 101: 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 companies strive for efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction, the availability and utilization of space play pivotal roles. Unfortunately, space shortages are becoming increasingly common across global workplaces, hampering the overall office environment and costing organizations valuable time, resources, and money. 

It’s imperative for workplace leaders to address these shortages swiftly. Doing so isn’t merely a matter of convenience, but is vital for employee productivity, satisfaction and operational efficiency. Imagine the frustration of booked out conference rooms and full collaboration spaces everytime you need an environment for brainstorming, problem-solving, or simply a quiet space to focus and work efficiently.

In this blog, we’ll explain how to understand the root causes of your space shortages and show you how to use occupancy data to optimize space availability, enhance the employee experience, and foster a conducive work environment.  

What are Space Shortages?

 A space shortage occurs when your workplace reaches its capacity, resulting in employees being unable to access available meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, or desks. It represents the tangible outcome of an imbalance between demand and supply within the office setting.

A space shortage in the workplace can manifest in various forms, each presenting unique challenges to organizational efficiency and employee satisfaction. These include: 

  • Not enough space: This is perhaps the most obvious indicator of a space shortage. When the available physical area within the workplace cannot adequately accommodate the needs of employees, it leads to overcrowding, discomfort, and decreased functionality.
  • Lack of proper space mix: Even if there is sufficient total space, a lack of diversity in the types of spaces available can still result in shortages. For example, having plenty of individual workstations but insufficient meeting rooms or collaborative areas can hinder teamwork and impede productivity. 
  • Lack of visibility: In some cases, space shortages occur not because there isn't enough space, but because employees are unaware of available options. Poor visibility into space utilization can lead to underutilization of certain areas while others remain overbooked.
  • Behavioral patterns - ghosted meetings: Ghost meetings, where booked spaces remain unoccupied due to last-minute cancellations or no-shows, exacerbate space shortages by creating artificial scarcity. Addressing these behavioral patterns is essential for optimizing space usage.

Not sure what type of space shortage you have? Check out our blog post with tips on how to identify real versus perceived space shortages in the workplace.

Certain types of bookable spaces are more susceptible to shortages due to their high demand or limited availability. At VergeSense, we’ve found that conference rooms and collaboration spaces are especially prone to shortages due to an imbalance in supply and demand. In fact, our data indicates that desks occupy a whopping 71% of the global space mix, but are utilized just 8.4% of the time. On the contrary, combined collaboration spaces, favored by employees and utilized 20.6% of the time, are notably underrepresented in office layouts.

The consequences of space shortages are plentiful, significantly impacting both employee experience and operational efficiency:

  • Decreased productivity: When employees struggle to find suitable spaces for collaboration or focused work, productivity inevitably suffers. Constantly searching for available rooms or desks disrupts workflow and wastes valuable time.
  • Less motivation to go to the office: Space shortages contribute to a negative work environment, discouraging employees from coming into the office. This can lead to increased absenteeism and reduced engagement.
  • Wasted resources and money: Inefficient use of space not only affects employee morale but also wastes resources and money. Overbooked meeting rooms, underutilized workstations, and unnecessary office expansions all incur unnecessary costs for the organization.

Utilizing Data to Solve Space Shortages

Occupancy data offers an empirical way to understand space utilization in the office and solve space shortages. When you rely on concrete data rather than assumptions or anecdotes, you can make informed decisions that lead to more efficient use of available space. 

Central to mitigating space shortages is the collection and analysis of space usage data and booking patterns. You can do this using the Occupancy Intelligence Platform which captures intelligence across every workspace. It also uses VergeSense AI to generate insights on passive and active occupancy and people count for more effective space planning, design, and availability. This means you can confidently answer questions like:

  • What are our most popular and least popular space types?
  • Are we actually running out of space or is there just not enough of employees’ preferred space type?
  • How often are our meeting rooms booked in a given week?
  • Are employees booking spaces and not showing up?

Even more key is how the Occupancy Intelligence Platform empowers workplace leaders to confidently and proactively implement solutions to alleviate space shortages or other utilization issues. 

Here are some key ways VergeSense customers leverage occupancy intelligence to build a better workplace experience:

  • Making amenities/policy adjustments: By understanding how employees interact with different spaces, organizations can tailor amenities and policies to better meet their needs. For example, reallocating resources towards more popular spaces or adjusting booking policies to reduce ghost meetings can help alleviate shortages.
  • Intelligent space design decisions: Data insights provided by VergeSense can inform intelligent space design decisions, enabling organizations to adjust their space mix to better align with actual usage patterns. By optimizing the distribution of desks, collaboration spaces, and other amenities, organizations can maximize the efficiency of their workspace.
  • Neighborhood planning decisions: Beyond individual workspace optimization, organizations can use VergeSense data to inform broader neighborhood planning decisions. By understanding how different departments or teams utilize space, organizations can create tailored neighborhood layouts that promote collaboration, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

Conclusion

Together, we've explored key insights into the nature of space shortages and how organizations can effectively address them by leveraging data. To recap:

  • Understanding the problem: Space shortages manifest through various factors such as inadequate space, improper space mix, lack of visibility, and behavioral patterns like ghosted meetings.
  • Types of bookable spaces prone to shortages: Conference rooms and collaboration spaces are particularly susceptible to shortages due to their high demand and limited availability.
  • Impact on employee experience and operations: Space shortages lead to decreased productivity, reduced motivation to come to the office, and wasted resources and money.
  • Utilizing data to solve space shortages: Data-driven approaches offer a systematic way to collect and analyze space usage and booking patterns. By implementing solutions based on data insights, such as making amenities/policy adjustments, intelligent space design decisions, and neighborhood planning decisions, organizations can effectively mitigate space shortages.

We strongly encourage organizations to prioritize data-driven solutions in addressing space shortages. By harnessing the power of occupancy intelligence, workplace leaders can optimize their workspace, enhance employee satisfaction, and drive greater operational efficiency. Let's harness the power of data to create workspaces that truly empower employees and propel organizational success!

Want to learn more about using data to better understand space shortages? Read our blog ‘Am I Running Out of Space? Identifying Space Shortages’ for customer stories and more information.