Offices all over the world are generating more workplace data than ever before. Thanks to huge leaps forward in the development of workplace technology, workplace experience managers and strategists can find out how well their office is performing against their goals.
It used to be that companies could simply rent or buy commercial real estate and fill it with furniture and amenities and hope for the best, maybe doing a renovation once every 15 years. But these days, every initiative and every investment should be backed up with data. If you’ve decided to add a gym space in your office, how much is your employee base using it? Which teams are thriving while working from home, and which ones feel more grounded when working at the office? How much energy is your company expending heating conference rooms that are lying unused?
Office sensor technology can help find out the answers to all these questions, and help you meet and exceed your office experience goals and increase company ROI.
And most critically, gathering this kind of data can have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line. Real estate and employee costs make up the vast majority of the costs of running a company, so the more you’re able to optimize in either area, the better.
How does employee experience impact the bottom line?
Without your employees, there’s no company — and that’s why the most successful companies invest deeply in their people. But how does employee engagement have a direct impact on your business bottom line? It comes down to turnover and real estate spend. We’ll review how both these major factors are improved by collecting accurate workplace data analytics.
What is workplace data?
Workplace data can come from many different sources, including workplace survey results, team-level surveys, keycard or badge systems, and the various types of workplace sensors. Essentially, workplace data is the numbers behind different behavioral trends in a workplace, from occupancy data to data on how each space in a building is used.
Active occupancy vs passive occupancy vs true occupancy
Workplace sensors seek to track whether a room, desk, floor, or building is in use — but it’s more complicated than whether or not a sensor sees motion.
Active Occupancy: When a person is seen by a sensor in a space.
Passive Occupancy: When a person leaves their things in a space, signifying that they intend to come back and saving their space at a desk or communal table.
True Occupancy: The calculation of how many people are using an area, counting both active and passive occupancy.
Impact on Bottom Line: The average cost of utilities for offices in the US is $2.10 per square foot. If your office is 3,000 square feet, that’s $6,300 a year on utilities alone. If workplace sensors determine that certain spaces are being heated, cooled, and lit while empty, you can expect to see as much as a 40% reduction in utility costs, taking the total down to $3,780 a year for a 3,000 square foot office.
2. Overall real estate square footage
As mentioned above, right-sizing real estate is a great way to lower the operating costs of a workplace. If your workplace sensors determine that certain spaces are lying unoccupied half the time, right-sizing can allow you to reduce the amount of square footage needed to accommodate your employees at any given time.
Spaces can be reduced and reimagined — more open collaborative spaces and fewer conference rooms, hotelling desks instead of personal desks, and open office areas instead of closed-off team neighborhoods.
Impact on Bottom Line: The average cost of rent for a commercial space ranges widely. In expensive areas like New York and San Francisco, the cost to rent a commercial space is $80-90 per square foot per year. In smaller cities like Atlanta, the cost goes down to close to $30 per square foot per year. In rural areas, the cost plummets much lower. By rightsizing the space and reducing square footage, companies stand to save a lot.
Let’s use Atlanta as an example. A 3,000 square foot office will cost approximately $90,000 per year to rent, which is $7,500 a month. If the company’s workplace data shows that even just 30% of the space is going unused, and they can get rid of that space and reimagine what’s left over, that leaves the company with only $60,000 a year to pay in rent.
3. Individual office areas, like meeting rooms, offices, and desks
Recruiting and training new employees isn’t just time-consuming: it’s also expensive. It’s important to invest in the employee experience — the higher your turnover rates, the more you spend on hiring and training new employees.
Technology can be used to create a frictionless work environment that lets employees seamlessly move through their days. By using sensors to prevent double-booking of desks and rooms, you reduce frustration and keep employees happier. Plus, sensor technology helps reduce a company’s carbon footprint, and many Millennials and Gen Z workers are seeking out employers who seek to reduce their environmental impact.
Workplace sensors help determine if the amenities and technology you provide your employees are actually being used.
If your sensors determine that a gym space your company added in 2018 is being used rarely, if ever, years later, it might be time to give up that space (and save on square footage) or repurpose it as a wellness space where employees can unwind.
Impact on Bottom Line: Cost of onsite amenities varies widely, but selling unused equipment and cutting back on underused amenities can save a company thousands up front, and thousands more each year if the space is given up entirely.