Workplace occupancy reports: how’s that going?

What’s your level of frustration with your workplace occupancy reports?

A.  Just fine, thank you. They give me everything I need.
B.  I’m uneasy basing my decisions on them.
C.  Annoyed with what I’m getting and embarrassed to show them to anyone.
D.  I’m tearing my hair out as we speak.

Since you’re reading this, chances are you’re in the B to D range (or even all the way to Z). If so, your frustration with occupancy reports is understandable. After all, there’s a lot riding on the CRE plans and decisions you’re making every day. There’s the cost of long-term leases and all those empty desks, for one thing. Not to mention your reputation and your inability to move toward modern workplaces that better support your business.

Without accurate and actionable information from your occupancy reports, you probably feel like you’re flying blind. As a result, your decisions concerning your CRE portfolio may not be working out as you hoped they would. You are likely facing low occupancy rates, lots of wasted space, and business units that are just as frustrated as you are.

Let’s talk about some of the most common problems with occupancy reports, and how modern workplace reports technology can improve things.

Top 6 frustrating problems with occupancy reports

1. It takes too long!

Whether you’re crunching numbers yourself, or relying on analysts to pull together the occupancy reports you need, it’s a maddeningly slow process. If you’re doing it yourself, you’re stuck at your desk well into the evening juggling spreadsheets. Or struggling to extract some useful information from your behemoth IWMS database.

You might be even more frustrated if you’re waiting days or even weeks for someone else to produce the commercial real estate analysis you’re after. That’s because analysts have to pull raw data from various sources, crunch all those numbers manually and put the results into a (somewhat) readable format.

SPOILER #1: Imagine if you could just open a modern workplace tool and click a button to get the information you need.

2. Information is unreliable

Are you collecting occupancy data with manual audits? How often is your data validated? When you’ve got incomplete or out-of-date occupancy information (or likely both), nobody trusts the data in your occupancy reports.

You heard the old adage, “garbage in, garbage out.” That’s why, when you finally do manage to get a report, you probably find yourself reluctant to trust what it’s telling you. Certainly your superiors and your business units won’t.

SPOILER #2: How much more would people trust you (and your plans) if you had accurate occupancy data? Using the right tools, you won’t need to waste time with manual audits. Believe it or not, you can get business units to enter and validate their own data.

3. You can’t get the level of granularity you need

Are you stuck with the canned occupancy reports provided by your IWMS system? These will rarely provide the level of detail you need to make decisions. For example, you can only see occupancy levels at a building level, rather than for a particular business unit or team.

You also might have data that’s stored in non-auditable locations, so you have no ability to track high level metrics. For example, how many move requests did you fulfill this year? If many of the requests are stored in email instead of a ticketing system, you have no way of knowing.

SPOILER #3: How much better could you plan the use of space if you could drill down in occupancy reports to see the exact information you want? Or access a central source of truth to roll up information and see how you’re meeting high-level goals and KPIs?

4. Customizations are difficult

Another reason canned occupancy reports don’t fit the bill is that they are never designed for the way you do things. If you want to do something as simple as change terminology in an IWMS report, you’ll have to pay extravagant fees for (and wait ages for) customizations.

SPOILER #4: What if you could get customizations done quickly and easily? Impossible? Not with the right workplace management system.

5. Presentation quality is poor

Are you actually embarrassed to share occupancy reports with your superiors? Not surprising when you see the sophisticated, graphical dashboards and reports your business unit counterparts are producing.

This is really about more than impressing people; it’s about wasted time. When you have to pour over piles of complex, cumbersome spreadsheets to get answers, it hampers your ability to make decisions.

SPOILER #5: Grasping the essence of your data is much faster and easier with interactive visualizations. And it takes seconds as opposed to hours to find out what you need to know. Plus, you look like a star!

6. Can’t integrate multiple data sources

It’s difficult enough to track occupancy without a modern workplace management system. What if you’re tasked with tracking actual hourly utilization of space, with the goal of moving to flexible work spaces?

To plan for the efficient & collaborative workplace of the future, you need workplace reports that can aggregate data from a variety of sources. These include badge reader systems, sensor technology, WiFi triangulation, and many others. There’s little chance you can pull that together manually, or using an IWMS system.

SPOILER #6: What if you could see heatmaps on a floor plan showing real-time space utilization? You can plan seat ratios by neighborhood, revise the mix of space types on a floor, and even provide wayfinding tools for your employees.

Modern tools do it better

You’ve probably guessed by now that you can easily fix all these occupancy reports problems with modern workplace management software. Here’s what you can get with the right best-in-class technology:

  • A central source of truth for all your CRE data. And TRUTH is the key word here: data that’s accurate and up to date.
  • Less work for your CRE team gathering occupancy data and more help from your business units.
  • Always-available presentation-quality commercial real estate reports that make you look good and are available at the click of a button.
  • Visual reports like heatmaps, building-level stack plans and floor plans showing seat assignments that make it easy to find & process information.
  • The ability to drill down and slice & dice information exactly how you want to see it. Or roll up data from numerous sources to provide high-level insights.
  • The ability to track utilization data from numerous technologies and see that data in a useful format for driving smart decisions for smart environments.

Isn’t it time you moved up to the “A” level for your workplace occupancy reports?

The right reporting tool is only one of the essential vetting points for workplace management software.

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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.