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

Our 2023 Sustainability Report is now available. View Here

Tango Analytics Logo


Get Updates

Stay up-to-speed by tuning in to Tango for top trends, leading practices and industry news in retail real estate, store development, construction management, lease accounting and facilities maintenance.

Space Utilization: What It Is and How It’s Measured 

Optimizing your office space can dramatically reduce costs and increase productivity. But how do you know when to make a change, or if it has been successful? Space utilization metrics answer these questions, helping you reduce wasted space, plan for demand, and avoid conflicts. In this article, we’ll explain:

  • What space utilization means
  • Why it’s important to track space utilization
  • How to measure and monitor space utilization
  • Which space utilization metrics should you track

What is space utilization?

Depending on who you ask, you may hear space utilization narrowly defined as a building’s occupancy divided by its capacity—but that’s just one of many space utilization metrics (which we’ll cover further down).

More broadly, space utilization refers to the efficiency with which an organization uses their workspace, and it covers a wide array of metrics for tracking specific aspects of how given spaces are used.

Space utilization includes not only the density of people packed into a building or a room, but also when they occupy it, how often they come and go, the amount of free space available, the average overhead costs of each workstation, the demand that exists for additional space, and more.

Why is tracking space utilization important?

You don’t want to make decisions that affect your entire workplace based on intuition or convenience. Tracking space utilization data helps you see what types of spaces you need more or less of, so you can find opportunities to use your workspace more efficiently and effectively. When it comes to space management, you should strategically plan what real estate you require and how to structure your workspace to meet employee needs and achieve broader business goals.

Space utilization data facilitates decisions based on objective metrics that help you use your space as efficiently as possible. An inefficient use of space directly translates to an inefficient use of funds. If you fail to track your space utilization, you’re essentially throwing away money.

Tracking space utilization allows you to identify unused and ineffectively used space, which you can then either repurpose to meet other needs or remove from your real estate portfolio to save costs. Additionally, space utilization data can show you where demand for space exceeds availability, or where employees are operating with too little space per person, giving you the chance to rearrange the workspace to allow them to work in more optimal conditions.

And in an age where hybrid workplaces have become the norm, tracking space utilization takes on a new level of importance. Where you could once expect each employee to work at their designated workstation every day, many workplaces now have people coming and going, sometimes moving from one workstation to another, and sharing workstations with other employees depending on who is working onsite at a given time.

This increasingly prevalent workplace model introduces two common scenarios that can happen when employers don’t track space utilization.

On the one hand, you may end up with too many employees expecting to use the same space at the same time. This creates conflict and hinders productivity. Those spaces not only won’t be optimal for their needs, but their use may further inconvenience others who planned to use that space.

On the other hand, you may have too much space available. Sure, you’ll avoid confrontations, and everyone will get to use the spaces they prefer. But you’ll also be wasting a ton of overhead costs on entirely unused space. Worse yet, you won’t even know how much money you’re wasting if you aren’t tracking it to find out.

Tracking space utilization gives you the data you need to find the sweet spot of just enough space for everyone with an appropriate buffer for busy days, but no space sitting around unused and eating up funds.

How to measure and monitor space utilization

The larger your organization and the more people trafficking your space, the harder it is to track your space utilization.

It isn’t enough to rely on badge scans, as those typically only account for entering the building itself. They often won’t account for every individual room or for leaving the building, and even the entry can be easily missed if a coworker holds the door open for others. And visual walkthroughs are prone to error and completely unsustainable at scale.

If you want accurate space utilization data you can rely on to make decisions, you need two things: IoT sensors and the tools to analyze the data they collect.

Collect data with IoT sensors

To measure and track space utilization data accurately, you need to invest in a real-time occupancy management strategy that uses IoT sensors to detect how each space is being used at any given moment, paired with advanced Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) software that organizes and tracks it all.

Currently, organizations use a variety of IoT sensor types to gather reliable usage data. Depending on your goals and office setup, you’ll need some combination of the following:

  • Passive infrared (PIR) occupancy sensors detect body heat and movement and track room occupancy with about 92% accuracy, often mounted on ceilings to cover large areas.
  • Desk sensors detect whether a given workstation is being used at any moment, typically using PIR technology in a smaller, unobtrusive format mounted on the underside of every desk.
  • Door-counting sensors are mounted in doorways to track when someone enters or leaves a room, typically also using PIR technology.
  • Vision sensors detect the presence of people or objects in a space using low-resolution cameras paired with AI processing, resulting in accuracy that often exceeds 99%.
  • Bluetooth proximity sensors rely on employees downloading an application to their devices, enabling Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to locate those devices within a given space.

Analyze sensor data in an IWMS

These sensors are great for gathering raw space utilization data, but you’ll also need a way to store, organize, and track that data over time. That’s where an IWMS solution like Tango comes in.

Tango organizes all your space utilization data in an intuitive dashboard that makes it easy to draw out crucial insights and decide how to manage your space.

And by bringing your utilization data into a comprehensive IWMS solution, you can use it to inform other space-related tasks (and vice-versa).

For example, Tango’s advanced office hoteling solution lets you efficiently manage shared spaces by enabling your employees to see what’s available, reserve workstations, avoid conflicts, and identify underutilized space. And all that hoteling data integrates with your IoT data, giving you an even fuller picture of your space utilization.

Your space management solution should make all of this data available in dashboards, with visualization capabilities to help you explore floor plans, plan scenarios, and test possibilities.

Common space utilization metrics

With your IoT sensors in place to collect data and your IWMS solution ready to monitor and organize that data, you’ll just need to decide which metrics you want to track. That’ll depend on the specific needs of your organization, but to get you started, here are some of the most commonly tracked space utilization metrics.


Capacity refers to the total number of people who can simultaneously use a room or facility. Generally speaking, you’ll calculate capacity by adding the number of workstations or seats in a given space. You can increase or decrease the capacity of a room based on how you configure it (and what occupancy regulations allow).


The population is the number of people assigned to use a given space. In a workspace with dedicated workstations, the population will usually be smaller than the capacity. However, in a hybrid workplace—where only a portion of the workforce is expected to be onsite at any given time—the number of people assigned to a space may be greater than the number of workstations, resulting in a population that is larger than the capacity.

Office space density

Office space density describes how close together each person or workstation is in an office, and it can be expressed in two different ways. Density per person equals the rentable square footage or rentable square meters (RSF/RSM) divided by the population. and density per seat equals the RSF/RSM divided by the capacity.

Occupancy level

Occupancy level can refer to the percentage of seats occupied in a room or to the percentage of rooms being occupied in a building at a moment. To calculate the occupancy level of a room, you divide the number of occupants by the room’s capacity. And to calculate the occupancy level of a building, you divide the number of rooms containing occupants by the total number of rooms available.

Vacancy level

Vacancy level describes the usable space that is not occupied at a moment in time. It is the inverse of occupancy level. To calculate the vacancy level, simply subtract the occupancy level from 100%. This works the same for the vacancy level of either a room or the building.

Peak occupancy level

The peak occupancy level describes the highest occupancy level a space receives during a given period, typically tracked weekly. It helps you identify spikes in occupancy for a space that may otherwise stay fairly consistent, and it can be an especially crucial metric for managing space in a hybrid workplace.

Utilization rate

The utilization rate for a space is the average occupancy level—the amount of time that space is occupied throughout a workday, expressed as a percentage. It’s important to track your utilization rate and occupancy level if you have a hybrid workplace, an activity-based workplace, or any other system that involves employees coming and going throughout the day.

Demand for space

Demand for space describes how much space your employees actually need, as opposed to what is currently available. You’ll be able to see if demand for space exceeds available space by keeping track of peak occupancy levels and the utilization rate, and by using desk booking software that provides additional visibility into how your space is being used.

Cost per seat

Cost per seat is an averaged figure calculated by adding up all the overhead costs for a workplace—typically over the course of a year—and dividing them by the number of seats available. It allows you to see the true occupancy costs for the workplace, which you can use as a comparison against potential changes or reconfigurations of the space.

Cost per person

Cost per person is similar to cost per seat, but you divide the total overhead costs by the number of employees in the workspace, instead of the number of seats. It’s important to track both metrics separately if you use hybrid or activity-based workplaces, as the cost per person will often differ greatly from the cost per seat.

Mobility ratio

Mobility ratio tracks the number of employees without an assigned workstation compared to those who have one. It gives you an at-a-glance understanding of how much of your workforce stays in one place throughout the day versus those who come and go, which informs how many shared spaces need to be available.

Office-to-workstation ratio

The office-to-workstation ratio is exactly what the name implies: the number of offices in your workplace compared to the number of workstations. If the ratio shows a relatively low number of workstations per office, then it may indicate room to add extra workstations without needing new office space. But you have to balance that with your employees’ needs and preferences.

For further reading, check out 13 Office Space Metrics You Should be Tracking,” wherein we examine these metrics in much greater detail.

Efficiently manage space utilization with Tango

Tango lets you visualize your space utilization data in one convenient dashboard. Gain access to real-time utilization, so you can see exactly which spaces are being used at any moment, track trends over time, identify poorly utilized space, and plan for future demand. It fully integrates with space-related IoT sensors, plus it incorporates data from your office reservation system, giving you a comprehensive understanding of your space utilization.

Want to see what Tango can do for your business? 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.