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How Do I Know If My Space is Being Over-or Under-Utilized?

What is Space Utilization?

Real estate is a huge cost for any company. Most businesses desire to have enough space for their employees and growth while keeping costs low. This is where space utilization comes into play. Space utilization is a simple ratio of the number of users or employees divided by the square footage of your space. The ideal ratio or percentage will vary by company.

When your space is over-utilized, it may feel like your employees are crammed and out of space. You may not have enough space for new employees as your business grows and available conference rooms might be hard to come by.

When your space is under-utilized, it may feel like large portions go unused, or it is a large distance between teams and the things you need.

Spatial Metrics & Tools

Every good business measures itself against a variety of important metrics to help management understand improvement opportunities or areas of concern. To enhance future growth, companies should measure themselves against the following:

Occupancy vs. capacity: This refers to how many people actually use a certain space (occupancy) vs. how many people the space can hold (capacity). For example, this data could show a large 15-person conference room is only being used by groups of 3-4, highlighting a need for smaller meeting rooms to better suit employee needs.

Average peak utilization: This is the combination of capacity and occupancy that shows when spaces are at their busiest during a particular time. This data can highlight usage trends and opportunities for improvement, like when spaces are underutilized or overutilized.

Total footfall traffic: A space can be busy without being overutilized (for example, a restroom or a staff kitchen). These spaces can have high foot traffic, but low utilization. Knowing the total footfall traffic helps identify these areas and understand how people move around your facility.

Making the appropriate space management decisions are important for planning future success.

Space Utilization Post Pandemic

With space utilization data, you can identify opportunities to cut out unnecessary costs or find ways to repurpose underutilized areas of your real estate. Following the pandemic, many businesses are looking to adapt their real estate to a hybrid workplace that includes remote, mobile, and on-site employees. Space utilization data can be helpful with better ongoing space management to meet the changing needs of employees.

I want to right-size my space, what next?

A design professional can help gather these metrics from your company for present-day utilization and future state goals. From there, the designer will develop programming documentation, fit plans, and early space planning. This will help you evaluate and optimize the size of your space, whether you are looking to right-size your existing space or looking to move to a new location.


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