Occupancy analytics is the process of monitoring, tracking, and analyzing a facility’s space utilization, typically using a combination of IoT sensors and space management software. Whether you’re managing a hybrid workplace or all your employees work on campus, you need insights into how people use your physical space: how often they use it, when they use it, and how many people use it.
Occupancy analytics provides objective data you can use to optimize your space to reduce costs and improve efficiency, so you don’t have to make decisions based on assumptions and guesswork.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, occupancy analytics also helped businesses stay within required occupancy limits for health and safety. And with the rise of hybrid workplaces, occupancy analytics allows businesses to ensure that their supply of space adequately keeps up with demand, and understand where and how their employees work.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of occupancy analytics, discuss what you can do with it, and examine some challenges.
By giving insights into exactly how your space is being used, occupancy analytics enables you to optimize your space in a number of key areas, including occupancy costs, space utilization, compliance, and employee experience.
You never want something you’ve paid for to go to waste, but if a space sits mostly unused every day, that’s exactly what’s happening. On the other hand, if a space is frequently overcrowded, it can make it difficult to get work done efficiently. Or if a bookable space is in high demand, employees may become frustrated at their inability to secure a reservation when they need it. They may even need to delay important meetings that impact other employees and force people to work on tighter timelines.
If you aren’t tracking your space utilization, you may not even be aware of these issues.
Using occupancy analytics, you can learn how often a space is used and how many people are present. This gives you a utilization rate—the percentage of time a space is occupied. According to JLL, a typical utilization rate is around 60% to 70%. If the rate for a given space is much higher, consider expanding the space or creating additional similar spaces. And if the rate is much lower, that may represent an underutilized space that can be converted into something else.
Space utilization issues show up in any workplace, but they can be more pronounced in hybrid workplaces, where employees often share a pool of reservable spaces and alternate between working remotely and working onsite. But occupancy analytics helps you keep track of when your employees come into the office and which spaces they use.
As you learn how employees use your space, you can reconfigure your facility according to the types of space you need more of, reallocating square footage from the spaces employees rarely use.
By improving your space utilization, you can often reduce the total amount of space you need. Find enough unused space, and you may even be able to downsize your real-estate portfolio. At the very least, it will maximize the amount of room you have to grow, allowing you to use your current space longer before you need to lease additional space.
Since occupancy analytics helps you anticipate how many people will be onsite at a given time, you’ll also be able to better plan for their needs, reducing waste accordingly. Using real-time occupancy management, you can determine when your employees come in, where they sit, and who they tend to work with. By anticipating this information, you can ensure you have sufficient seating available, but aren’t wasting any either.
As you learn when your employees are onsite, you’ll be able to see which days have excessively high peak occupancy levels. The higher demand for space during these times may make it difficult to adequate seating, even when you’re planning ahead. But you can alleviate this problem by scheduling or recommending for some employees to come in on slower days, evening out the overall demand for space.
And there’s no need to do all that scheduling by hand. Using artificial intelligence with Integrated Workplace Management Systems, you can receive automated suggestions for when each employee should come onsite, taking into consideration employees who need to work together.
Similarly, if certain specialized equipment or workstations are in high demand, you can use the same process to recommend optimal times for each employee who needs to use them.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, commercial buildings waste 30% of the energy they use on average. This is not only harmful for the environment, but it represents an opportunity for significant savings on operation costs. While some of this wasted energy is the result of old and inefficient systems, much of it comes from lighting and climate control for spaces with no occupants.
By using occupancy analytics, you can observe occupancy trends based on the day of the week, the time of day, or other factors like special events. You can then use this data to more accurately predict when lighting and HVAC systems will be needed, and you can schedule them to run accordingly. Furthermore, by using real-time occupancy data, you can set your systems to adjust automatically when utilization exceeds averages.
Use energy when you need it, and conserve it when you don’t. It’s more sustainable, it’s better for the environment, and it saves money.
The pandemic brought with it reduced occupancy limits. In a pinch, many businesses had to manually track how many employees were on site at any given time (and how far apart they were). Even as pandemic restrictions lift, it remains important to stay within occupancy limits. There will always be building codes you need to stay in compliance with and comfort levels to consider.
By tracking real-time occupancy data, you can easily see how many people are in your space at any moment, along with how close you are to being at capacity. And if trends over time show that you reach near or full capacity often, that can indicate the need for more space.
Occupancy analytics play an important role in employee satisfaction.
By tracking space utilization, you keep workspaces from becoming overcrowded. This is of particular concern for employees who feel uncomfortable about the lifting of COVID-related restrictions. Ask people how comfortable they are with your workplace, and use occupancy analytics to ensure they have enough space.
Real-time analytics also helps employees find spaces to use when they need them. Rather than spending time looking for a spot, they can see at a glance what spaces are available.
So how do you reap those benefits on a practical level? Let’s take a look at what businesses like yours actually do with occupancy analytics.
Humans are creatures of habit. Even in dynamic environments with frequent changes, people tend to fall into familiar patterns. By tracking occupancy analytics over time, you can identify these trends and use them to optimize your workplace.
Tango Space, our purpose-built space management software, can use these trends to automatically recommend times for each employee to come into the office and even suggest spaces to reserve based on where their preferred coworkers will be. Using IoT sensors, you get better visibility into every space’s utilization over time. Once you establish what normal usage patterns look like in your workplace, Tango Space can help you recognize irregularities and plan for spikes in demand.
Not only will you use occupancy analytics to discover changes to make, but you’ll also use them to track the effects of those changes. Let’s say you increased the density of an in-demand workspace in order to increase its capacity. Occupancy analytics helps you determine whether the change brought the utilization rate down to a more sustainable level.
Or perhaps you converted an underutilized space into a new conference room. You would similarly track the conference room’s utilization rate to verify whether its new purpose receives more use than its old purpose.
Occupancy analytics helps you set a goal, move toward it, and stay on track. Let’s say you’re planning to do a new round of hiring, and you want to fit all the new employees into your existing space so you don’t need to expand your real estate portfolio.
You might consider changing the density (how tightly packed the space is). If your current density is low, you might be able to fit additional workstations in the same amount of space, increasing the capacity. However, be aware that increasing density may cause discomfort to existing employees, especially in this era of COVID-related cautions.
Alternatively, occupancy analytics could help you discover underutilized space. Perhaps you have a conference room that is rarely used. Or a wellness room no one reserves. You might be able to convert that space into workstations for the new hires.
If occupancy analytics are so beneficial, then why aren’t all businesses using them already? What barriers stand in the way?
Many organizations continue to rely on outdated and inefficient methods for tracking occupancy, like electronic badge scans and manual headcounts. While they’re better than nothing at all, these methods can’t provide the detailed insights you need to make informed decisions.
But technology has come a long way. IoT sensors like LiDaR strips and blurred motion cameras can provide detailed, accurate, real-time information about how your space is being used.
Every business has its own goals, and those distinctions determine what their occupancy analytics needs are.
For example, do you have many reservable spaces or only a few? What about reservable equipment. That could determine how robust your booking system needs to be. Do you need to know the exact number of people in a given space or simply whether the space is occupied at all? Do you need to track where people come from and where they go? Do you need the results to be anonymous?
What tools are you already using? You’ll need to be sure any new tools you add are compatible with your existing system, or else you may have to redo it all. What if you have multiple locations? You’ll want to use the same setup everywhere so you can consistently compare results.
Getting started with occupancy analytics may take some time. You’ll need to plan for what you intend to get out of occupancy analytics, research the tools you need, install the sensors, integrate them with your space management software, and monitor them long enough to start identifying trends.
However, the time you invest now has the potential to save more time in the long run. Once your system is up and running, automation will take care of much of the work, allowing you to analyze the data in a fraction of the time it would take if you were tracking everything manually.
Having the right software can make or break your office space management strategy. With Tango Space, everything you need is in one convenient system. You can visualize your existing space, manage reservations, track how each space is being used, incorporate IoT data, plan for what-if scenarios, forecast for future space requirements, and keep your office space running smoothly.
Want to see what Tango Space can do for you?