What Corporate Real Estate Should Learn About Space Utilization From the Airline Industry

For those of you who have booked a seat on a plane lately, you have to agree that online booking systems have come a long way. You pick your flight and with a few more clicks you get to pick the seat you want. Isn’t it great that you can now avoid the dreaded middle seat? The big advantage the airlines now have is real time data. They know what spaces they have available at all times and they can even oversubscribe their available seating because they have the historical data on how many people will change or cancel their flights. What does that have to do with office space utilization you ask? First, a little background so you know where I’m coming from.

Driven by changing work styles, innovations in design and mobile technology, workspaces are changing. Perimeter offices are disappearing, floor plans are opening up, and trendy breakout areas are replacing the rigid, closed layouts of the past. Offices now have neighborhoods and in a lot of cases, there is now unassigned seating. This shift is great for the workforce, but what about the folks that are trying to manage this new workspace? Surely the occupancy planning and space tracking tools have evolved at the same pace! Or have they?

Workspaces are becoming organic. Space needs to change and adapt to the needs of the occupants and culture. This presents some significant challenges for us technology folks. CAFM tools have been used by space planners and designers for decades, but data collection is still a struggle. The challenge with all this flexibility in workspace design and especially in a world of unassigned seating is how do you track the use of space? How many desks are being used every day? Do we have enough meeting space? What is your true occupancy and utilization? How do you collect all this data? These questions can’t easily be answered using the same manual data gathering methods we have used in the past. We have a lot of customers with space utilization below 50%. Obviously, that adds up to a lot of underutilized space and huge inefficiencies.

How can Corporate Real Estate solve this under-utilization problem? Naturally, we look to the airline industry for answers! Airlines have figured out how to capture near real-time utilization data. If you had real time workspace utilization data, wouldn’t you be more comfortable increasing sharing ratios and moving more people to these underutilized floors? The good news is that the Internet of Things has arrived in the workplace. Sensors are popping up everywhere now and they can be used to capture real-time space utilization data. With a bit of data analysis, you will know how your space is being used and you can manage space with precision, like an airline. With real-time data, you can increase your utilization to 75% and still sleep on those long haul flights knowing there are enough seats for everyone. Using sensors to track utilization is your ticket to efficiency gains and big savings.

Maybe someday we’ll even be able to oversubscribe our space like the airline industry. How does 100% utilization sound? As long as I don’t get the middle seat!

UtiLive has harnessed the Internet of Things to make your office smarter. If you’re interested in learning more about collecting real-time utilization data, please get in touch.