As commercial real estate becomes more expensive, businesses are trying to do more with less. For most, that means more efficient use of the space they have—and in some cases, downsizing to a smaller lease. The name of the game is space optimization. It has plenty of C-suite executives asking, “How do I optimize my workspace?”

The answer is a multi-step process. To optimize workspace, you need to quantify what you have. That takes technology and resources, and a critical look at what’s important vs. what’s underutilized.

Optimization doesn’t happen in an instant. Understanding improvement opportunities is one thing; it takes initiative to capitalize on them. Given cost savings and deriving more value from their workplaces, business leaders should be optimizing where they can.

Identify inefficiencies

Finding inefficiencies is the first step toward improvement. To optimize workspace for productivity, first figure out what’s not working—or what’s working inefficiently.

  • Evaluate workplace utilization metrics to see what workstations employees aren’t using. Take a look at workspaces that attract the most use and use them as a baseline for understanding space demands.
  • Pinpoint areas of friction and identify chokepoints in the physical workplace. Do employees have enough personal space? Are there conflicts over noise, proximity, or privacy?
  • Gauge what’s ideal to employees and how features are reflected in your workplace. Identify likes and dislikes with a Net Promoter Survey or informal poll, then use the results to make changes.

Utilize data and technology

Charting the course to an optimized workplace requires data and software to design changes and improvements that push transformation.

  • Use sensors and data aggregation tools to map occupancy and utilization. This data provides credence to the types of workspaces in-demand within your workplace.
  • Rely on dynamic floor planning software to create a composite of your current set up, as well as iterative versions of possible ones. This is invaluable in planning a workplace redesign before actually moving anything. Drag-and-drop floor plans also simplify changes based on stakeholder feedback or unforeseen obstacles.
  • Make good use of a messaging platform to keep stakeholders in the loop on optimization efforts. Communicating directly with C-suite executives, department heads, workplace managers, team leaders, and employees is a great way to field concerns, collaborate on potential problems, and assign responsibilities.

Explore new floor plans

Now, it’s time to explore new workplace solutions that meet your employee demands for workspace productivity, while staying cognizant of available space, lease costs, and utilization metrics.

  • Explore spaces based on the type of work most prevalent in your workplace. Individual work benefits from hotel desks and private workstations. Collaboration spaces and activity-based workstations support group work. Hot desks and open-office environments accommodate remote workers. Pay attention to the mix of workers and duties, and build a floor plan with balanced workspaces.
  • Even if your first floor plan is a masterpiece, consider alternatives. Make several variations and run them down the same gauntlet. Do they address employee demands? Is the plan conducive to your ideal layout? Does the data support this design? Stopping at a single floor plan deprives you of truly knowing if your new arrangement is optimal.
  • Solicit feedback from leadership and employees on configurations. Don’t seek validation—rather, listen to legitimate concerns and field questions about the impending changes. This is an opportunity to learn about a new workplace design through the eyes of others, particularly those spending the majority of their time using it.

While exploring new arrangements, make sure to save everything. It’s not uncommon to piecemeal ideas and concepts into something greater. And, there’s always the chance that a future workplace design may draw inspiration from something previously tabled.

Continue improvement exploration

The concept of the best office workspace is elusive. The optimal choice is the one that meets employee needs right now. As the company grows and work evolves, so will the workplace. Optimization is the constant pursuit of the ideal workspace. It’s up to companies to continually recognize changing demands and meet them with innovative solutions.

Keep reading: Deploying workplace occupancy sensors to improve utilization.

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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.