Using an office space design tool to plan your workplace layout is smart. Not only is it more efficient than breaking out grid paper and ruler, software affords insights that manual space planning doesn’t. Knowing how the cost per square foot of your lease stacks up against a plan for a new desk arrangement is something best left to a smart workplace design tool.

But not every piece of software has the same array of tools. Some are more design-oriented, providing 3D modeling options and immersive office views. Others are built for real estate managers who care more about the dollar cost of an intended design than the nature of its layout. With software options covering the gamut, facilities managers need to look somewhere in-between.

Let’s take a look at some of the core essentials for workplace design software and how these features play an important role in good office planning.

Space utilization analytics and insights

One of the chief driving factors of workplace design is cost. It governs so many of the variables that make up an office, from monthly leases, cost per square foot, and cost per head. But, if you’re not privy to these figures or don’t factor them in when designing a workplace, they’re liable to work against you.

Good workplace design software will put space utilization analytics, costs, and insights front and center during the planning process. For example, it can show how many employees per square feet you have in a certain department, indicating overcrowding or wasted space. Analytics can also tell you if your workers do better in large groups, small groups, or individually. This data, paired with cost information, helps drive informed decisions.

Analytics determine whether the software you choose becomes an open workplace design tool or an agile space resource—whatever suits your needs. Best of all, you’ll be able to equate data to costs and costs to decisions, which impact your final workplace design. It’s the difference between thinking your new office open layout is cost-saving and knowing it is.

Dynamic floor planning

The chances of getting a new floor plan correct on the first try are slim to none. More likely, you’re going to make dozens of iterations and radical changes as data influences and shapes your new layout. Software with dynamic floor planning is critical.

A good workplace design tool should allow you to save iterations as you progress. That makes floor planning faster and more efficient. No more polylining on graph paper. No more saving draft after draft of CAD mockups.

More than easing the design process, a dynamic floor plan tool is critical for agile and flexible workspaces. Being able to save floor plans, desk arrangements, and layouts allows you to arrange and rearrange spaces at-will. In facilities trying out hot desks, desk neighborhoods, activity-based workspaces, and other flexible environments, a portfolio of saved floor plans means never deviating too far from the standard.

Scenario planning and variance reports

Along the same lines of iterative floor plans is having software with scenario planning capabilities. This function allows you to pick an office layout style and quickly drag-and-drop employee icons and assets within it. It’s useful for designing both permanent spaces and temporary arrangements.

Coupled with scenario planning, variance reports allow facilities managers see exactly how design aligns with costs. You can glean occupancy data, space utilization costs, and more for a specific scenario, resulting in hard data about the efficiency of a particular layout. If the numbers work, it might be your next floor plan. If the numbers don’t align, it’s back to the drawing board.

Scenario planning and variance reports allow quicker floor planning backed by analytics that generate usable insights without any desk moving or seat shuffling.

Management beyond design

The key elements of a good workplace design tool are the ones that help you make informed decisions. Data is the key, along with analytics that outline the best scenarios. Analytics on floor and scenario planning unlocks your fullest potential. They allow you to do more than design the best floor plan for your workplace—they guarantee it’s the right one and help you manage it before, during, and after the transition. Next, learn what’s the best office layout for productivity.

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.