Our first annual Sustainability Report, detailing 2023 performance, is now available. View Here

Our 2023 Sustainability Report is now available. View Here

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Office Space Planning: How to Maximize the Benefits and Achieve Goals 

Whether you’ve occupied the same office space for decades or you’re opening a new location, it’s important to make intentional decisions about how your space is used—so you can ensure it serves your immediate needs, works toward short- and long-term goals, and gets used efficiently.

Office space planning is the process of determining how your space should be used and arranging departments, types of spaces, workstations, and equipment accordingly. While you may sometimes start from a blank floor plan, office space planning often involves making adjustments to a space that’s already occupied.

It may be initiated in response to new goals, preferences, needs, or problems. Perhaps there’s a lack of synergy you need to address. Or plans to grow or downsize. Maybe a new executive wants different types of spaces, or employees have raised concerns.

Whatever the case, office space planning could affect your organization and the people who work within it for years to come, so it’s vital that you go into the process with a clear understanding of what it takes to do it well. This isn’t just putting your vision on a floor plan, either—you need to actually execute your vision.

In this article, we’ll cover how to maximize the benefits of space planning and achieve in the office what you set out to do on paper.

Establish your objectives

Every choice you make about your space will impact how people use it on a daily basis. So it’s important to root your decisions in goals. The more disruptive the change, the more important the “why” behind it becomes.

Even if a specific, narrow goal initiated your office space planning (like creating room for a new amenity or fitting more workstations), your space decisions can have cascading effects. To ensure today’s space decisions don’t cause problems down the road, you need to make every change in the context of your longer-term goals and expectations. You need to think about things like how many employees you expect to have in the office in the coming years, which parts of the organization you expect to grow the most, and how your plan will affect employees.

For example, let’s say you want to create room for 20 percent growth over the next five years, but without reducing the density per person by more than 25 square feet. And you don’t want employee satisfaction to decrease. This may mean making other desired changes to compensate for the increased density, or it could mean repurposing less essential space to prevent density from increasing.

You may also have goals relating to improving space utilization. Perhaps some meeting rooms sit unused throughout the day while others are at capacity. Sometimes these problems can be solved through communication, but other times they need to be addressed with office space planning: by relocating meeting rooms, giving them a new purpose, or emulating your most desirable ones.

Consider your policies, values, and culture

Your physical space either reinforces your values, culture, and policies, or it undermines them. Imagine trying to explain your values of openness, flexibility, and compassion to a new employee while leading them through a labyrinth of rigid cubicles and closed office doors. If you care about collaboration and want employees to develop healthy working relationships, your office space should help facilitate that with neighborhoods, flexible seating areas, and a variety of meeting spaces. If you want people to view the office as a place where they can focus and get things done, give them space to be productive.

Arguably the most important policy to consider in your office space planning is your hybrid work or work-from-home policy. Giving employees the ability to work remotely has a significant impact on how your space will be used. The more hybrid employees you have, the more shared workspaces your office should provide. If hybrid employees have dedicated offices or workstations, you’ll wind up with large percentages of usable office space sitting vacant throughout the week.

Track your use of space

You’ll never get the most from office space planning if you aren’t tracking how people use and interact with your space. It’s the only way to know if your plan is working as intended, continuing to meet needs, or creating new problems. Ideally, you should have some space utilization data before you begin planning. If you aren’t ready to track utilization in meaningful ways until after your plan is implemented, just bear in mind that you’ll likely need to make adjustments.

By tracking space utilization before and after implementing each plan, you’ll have a far better idea of how much space you’ll need to reach a goal, how much space you have available, how successful each plan was, and whether or not your changes had any unintended consequences.

For example, by tracking how your space is being used right now (through IoT sensors, office booking software, badge scans, and/or manual walkthroughs), you may find that specific workspaces, rooms, or amenities simply aren’t necessary because no one is using them throughout the week. These spaces would be good, low-disruption candidates for a plan that calls for the conversion of existing space. Or if a particular storage area rarely needs to be accessed, maybe it could be moved to a less prominent location or smaller space.

Use stack planning

It doesn’t take much to set up or modify a small office that only has a handful of workstations. But when you’re planning how to use multiple floors of a building—or an entire portfolio of office buildings—stack planning becomes an essential process for finding optimal ways to use your space and organize departments to reach goals.

This method visually represents the distribution of space types on each floor or in each building with blocks. Each block’s size corresponds to the amount of space that type represents, so you can easily envision ways to rearrange your office to improve synergy, use space more efficiently, and consolidate unassigned or underutilized space. You can also walk through “what if scenarios,” like, “What if our customer service department grows by 25% in the next two years? Where can we put them?

Sometimes you have to look at your space from a different perspective to discover the best options. Stack planning turns all your floor plans into a single spatial problem, giving you fresh ways to explore the challenges and opportunities at scale.

Plan to be flexible

Office space planning isn’t something you can “set and forget.” After you roll out your plan, you need to monitor how it impacts your workplace and your employees. Through a combination of space utilization metrics and employee feedback, you may find that there are better ways to accomplish your goals, or that another solution you were considering would produce similar outcomes without the drawbacks.

Plans take time, and you obviously don’t want to constantly renovate your office. But as you observe how employees interact with your plan, you may need to make adjustments to fulfill your original vision or ensure you’re meeting all of your goals.

Equip employees to adapt

Employees won’t always instinctively use your space exactly how you intended. They may be accustomed to meeting in certain spots, or treating shared spaces in a particular way. Your plan may be in conflict with preferences they’ve built up over time. And that may mean that they struggle to find the space they need at times. You can help.

With the right space management software, you can create a plan and track how employees use your office—all in the same place. As you notice areas that are being under- or over-utilized, or particular times that are easier to reserve popular spaces, you can communicate this to employees, empowering them with the information they need to use your space more effectively.

Taking a more active role in how your employee population interacts with your office space will accelerate adoption of your plan and minimize the disruption any changes cause to operations.

Plan your office space with Tango Space

Tango Space is a comprehensive space management solution, purpose-built for enterprises, government agencies, and nonprofits. Leading organizations use Tango Space to visually explore, analyze, plan, and monitor space across their portfolios. Find savings opportunities, improve space utilization, and discover the most effective ways to achieve your goals. Want to see what Tango Space can do for your organization?

Request a demo today.


Tango 2023 Sustainability Report

We have released our first Sustainability Report for 2023, marking an important step in our sustainability journey. In the report, we announce our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, setting us apart as a pioneer in the larger ecosystem of real estate technology providers.