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Space Utilisation Surveys

Friday 5 August, 2016

The Requirement

An office-based organisation required time utilisations surveys across their portfolio through the UK.  

They were planning to make changes to their current provision but needed quantitative measures of the way that the space was actually being used.

The findings would then contribute to a major exercise both to move out of some locations; merge teams in other buildings and space plan with a realistic measure of actual demand, working ratios of desks, offices, meeting rooms and breakout / support areas.

The Approach

The surveys: all buildings are surveyed for the accuracy of the CAD drawings (in some cases, drawings had to be updated by the Aberley space planners). The drawings were then loaded onto the Accordant database, ready to be accessed by our auditors through tablets. The preferred weeks for the surveys were agreed with the business: avoiding holiday periods and other critical periods (such as conferences) to ensure maximum attendance.

Communicating to the staff: our communications manager designed the message about the survey which was then circulated to all staff in the buildings affected. This allayed any concerns and answered common queries (such as “Does it matter if I am away from my desk when you come round?”)

Categories of findings: every solo workpoint, collaboration area and seat; meeting room seat and supporting space plus printer station was audited by an Aberley person every hour between 9am and 6pm during the working day for a week (giving a total of  45 observations of each seat over a week).  

Solo workpoints were categorised as occupied or temporarily unoccupied (combining to give utilisation); free to use; out of commission or cluttered.  Collaboration spaces, offices and meeting rooms were measured both for activity (meeting, VC call, presentation etc.) and the numbers of people using the rooms relative to size

The Benefits

Findings: this organisation had a workstation utilisation rate of 48% (below our usual average of 50% and well below a realistic best practice target of 70%).  Meeting rooms were in use only 31% of the time (clustered at 10am and 2pm); most rooms were the wrong size with peak demand for rooms of 2-4 seats (whereas provision was typically of rooms with 6-8 seats).

Impact of the surveys: Aberley helped challenge myths of over-crowded buildings with over-booked meeting rooms. They identified buildings with very poor usage; spaces that people disliked and so did not use; set ratios for desk-sharing. Aberley worked alongside the client to draw up new designs and begin a change exercise with the staff.


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