Five Ways To Improve Workplace Through Space Management

Deploy intelligent (and dynamic) space planning strategies through the use of technology, coupled with other sources of insight into how employees work.

By Michael Kruklinski

Considering that most employees spend a significant amount of time in their organizations’ facilities, it’s no surprise that workspaces — whether featuring assigned desks or a desk-sharing configuration — are typically among the highest investments for an enterprise. Yet for all that money spent, we don’t always pay enough attention to how a company’s organizational structure impacts employees: Do we have the right space, at the right time, in the right location?

A mismanaged workplace can impact more than just the employees in your organization. It is also part of how your partners, suppliers, and customers view your company. But exactly what does that mean for your bottom line? According to a recent study by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), there is a clear correlation. One finding showed that half of the 1,206 employees surveyed were satisfied with their workplace and envisioned working at the company in the next year.

Through the adoption of “intelligent space design,” facility management professionals can determine the optimal layout of their space to maximize efficiency. This space planning technique can have a positive impact on retention rates and save companies money by helping to determine the best use of resources. Space needs to be dynamic in its design. The information gained from intelligent space design is helpful, because only knowing you have the right amount of space isn’t enough.

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The Bellevue, WA Siemens office was recently renovated to the company’s New Way of Working (NewWow) office configuration. (Photo: Siemens)

Monitor And Be Proactive
. One of the tenets of intelligent space management is data. Without knowing how your employees use their workspace, it’s impossible to know how to properly manage your office. Most companies require their employees to badge-in and badge-out of a site. These systems can collect badge data and provide the ability to analyze the information to determine trends in occupancy. We never expect to see 100% occupancy; however, if we see an average indication of 70% or less, then we need to explore space efficiency measures.

Siemens Real Estate (SRE) is exploring the use of technology in workspaces and conference areas that measures factors such as traffic between buildings, how many people are in meetings, and other information. From these stats, SRE can determine exactly how much space is needed in the building, what kind of space, reduce its footprint, and ultimately make the workspace more efficient.

SRE’s exploration of such technology has included big data analysis at one of the company’s locations with three buildings on the site. This analysis included data from our employees badging in and out, also known as access control information or card reader information.

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Siemens’ recently redesigned office in Bellevue, WA (Photo: Siemens)

Outside The Cubicle Thinking. Creating a work environment that supports modern thinking is key to fostering innovation at your company and, in turn, boosting profits. This means space planning that involves thinking beyond the traditional cubicle model and embracing more creative seating arrangements. Through Siemens Real Estate’s New Way of Working (NewWow) open office configuration (introduced in January 2011) we now operate in a culture of collaboration and trust — allowing our employees to work remotely and to be flexible inside of the office. This allows our employees to work in the way that best meets their needs and organically form cross-functional teams– all of which allows for increased productivity and employee satisfaction. According to a study from Brandware, 64% of employees who were satisfied with their work environment strongly agreed with the statement “my organization cares about my well-being

Building A Neighborhood. It stands to reason that if your employees make efficient use of their time in the office, the goals of your company will more quickly be achieved. Think about your office as a series of neighborhoods. For example, marketing employees should work in the “marketing neighborhood,” while the financial team works in the “financial neighborhood,” so they can more easily share ideas with each other. Teamwork does wonders for morale, and it can also have a more tangible effect on financials. With employees of the same department working close to one another, it eliminates the needs for long treks across the office and unnecessary emails. While on its own that might only take a few minutes, the time saved over a year by this space planning measure could mean hours of productivity.

Going Green Saves Green. Sustainable building design is not only a great move for the environment, it can also help save your business money. Siemens’ new headquarters in Munich is a great example of how sustainability can inform building design. SRE played an important role in the design of the building, which draws its power exclusively from renewable sources of energy. As a result, the building’s annual CO2 emissions have been reduced to just nine kilograms per square meter. The building has 7,400 LED lamps and makes use of daylight and presence sensors. These advances help reduce power consumption by 25 percent, thereby meeting Siemens’ goal to have its building run with low operating costs.

Business Continuity. Intelligent space management can play a role in emergency situations, such as a natural disaster, snow storm, or fire. At more than 120 sites in 30-plus countries, SRE has implemented NewWow offices, which allows our team members to work remotely from anywhere. Employee safety is first priority, and no employee ever needs to put themselves at risk to travel to work. A safe and productive day is just as accessible from home.

The changes are just some of what we recommend to transition your office to the workspace of the future. And the future is now. Start talking to your employees to get their feedback on these or other changes. This will inform your work going forward and ensure you are making the right choices for the future of your organization.

space planningKruklinski is head of Siemens Real Estate for the Americas. Siemens Corporation is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global firm focused on electronics and electrical engineering, operating in the industry, energy, healthcare, infrastructure, and cities sectors. In 2005, Kruklinski rejoined Siemens Corporation as vice president for strategic planning. Prior to 2005, he was a senior principal in the Financial Institution/High Tech Industrials Group at A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm.