A couple of months back, Ian Morley discussed workplace optimization on the award-winning business program, Worldwide Business with kathy ireland®. He shared that many corporations are wasting 50 percent or more of the space in their real estate portfolios. Kathy wanted to know, “why is workplace optimization so challenging?”Here’s one of the key reasons: there are many time-consuming steps involved in making even the smallest improvements to a company’s use of space.

Simply moving a few teams around on one floor is a complex project that can take weeks or even months to plan and execute successfully. Re-stacking an entire building is vastly more complicated, potentially involving hundreds of teams and thousands of people. The idea of optimizing your company’s work space on a city, region or even global level can seem truly overwhelming.

Even the most experienced space planners will agree that optimizing space on a large scale is a monumental task without using modern scenario planning tools.

Just like a home space planning tool lets you test your ideas for rearranging the living room without moving furniture, the best corporate scenario planning tools also allow you to test your ideas on a floor, building, or even region-wide scale without the heavy lifting.

Scenario planning the old (and inefficient) way

Does this sound something like what you’re doing now, without scenario planning tools?

  1. You need to fit a new team into a floor. You suspect there are vacancies, but you have no idea exactly where they are.
  2. Time for a manual audit: you send out your team with clipboards in hand to check every desk and find out who sits there and what team they work for.
  1. That information gets written by hand on a printed floor plan and highlighted with colored markers to show team locations. Then you enter the data into massive spreadsheets. This process alone typically takes days or longer.
  2. Once that’s done, you must validate the data with your business
    teams. You might enlist the help of move champions in each business unit for this task. You’re grateful for the help (even if you have to beg for it) but then you have control issues with so many people accessing your data.
  3. Many weeks later, you have a fair baseline (at best). Now it’s time to actually develop a move plan. When you lack modern scenario planning tools, this task involves printing a blank floor plan and getting out your trusty highlighters to color where teams might go. Or, you might just resort to using a whiteboard and post-its, like this:
Even if you have some occupancy data in an IWMS, you’re still stuck with planning any changes with outdated methods like this. You won’t find any useful and scalable scenario based planning tools in an IWMS.


  1. Next, you need to run your plan by management for approval, then get buy-in from each affected team. Well, that never works out the first time around. Each time you need to make a change, you must start from scratch with a fresh blank floor plan. Without automated scenario planning tools, you’re probably going through a lot of markers! Not to mention trees.
  2. When everyone finally agrees on a plan, the real fun starts. Now it’s time to figure out the dependencies and move sequences to get everyone in their new spaces. This is another manual task that takes a great deal of time. And the consequences of making a mistake are costly: have you ever tried to move a team into a space that’s still occupied?
  3. Possibly the worst part of manual scenario planning is communicating the information needed by the people being moved. Once again, you’re printing out floor plans. Individuals are lucky if they receive a map with the general location of their team. Maybe they get a workstation ID and need to find it on their own.

Needless to say, people get lost, their work is interrupted and they wind up frustrated with the move. No wonder everyone dreads moving and your business teams do everything they can to fight your optimization plans.

The good news is, many of these time-consuming and inefficient planning steps can be eliminated, or made vastly simpler, with the right automated scenario planning tools.

Modern scenario planning tools make you an agile planning team

One of the frustrating problems with manual scenario planning is the fact that you’re shooting at a moving target. While you go through those slow and painstaking steps, your business continues to change at light-speed. That means you must be constantly re-validating your data and tweaking your plans throughout the move.

That’s where modern scenario planning tools provide a great deal of value. They allow your CRE team to be more agile, responding to changes quickly and adjusting without delays, mistakes and negatively impacting the business.

Here’s what workplace optimization can look like using modern workplace management software with scenario planning tools.

  1. You begin with a trusted source of truth about occupancy data, so you can skip the weeks of manual audits and juggling spreadsheets. Modern workplace management software provides automated tools for collecting and validating your information.
  2. To find pockets of vacancy, simply open your online floor plan and look at your team and seat assignments.
  3. Next, create a “what if” project using visual scenario planning tools to harvest empty seats. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping teams and individuals into a new spot. You can easily create a plan for a floor, or restack one building or multiple buildings. No more paper or highlighters! You can even create multiple scenarios in minutes to try out different plans.
  1. Now you’ve got a professional-looking floor plan visualizing your new scenario to present to management and the affected teams. Even better, making adjustments takes minutes instead of re-creating the whole thing each time you tweak the plan.
  2. With scenario planning tools, collecting move requirements is simplified, too. Teams and individual data are already in the system, so all you’ll need to do is add asset information and special requirements for those you haven’t moved before. It’s easy to add details and validate data with an online move matrix that allows your teams to take ownership of their information.
  3. When it’s time to execute the move, the system automatically generates all the move dependencies and sequences for you. That means your moves happen faster and with no embarrassing and costly mistakes.
  4. Perhaps the best part is the improved service you can offer to your employees. Prior to the move, you can use email templates to set up comms for everyone involved. Imagine how pleasantly surprised people will be when they get an email the week before the move, with everything they need to know including a personalized floor plan showing the exact location of their new workstation.

The icing on the cake

It’s easy to see how much time you stand to gain using modern scenario planning tools, not to mention gaining the trust of your business units and your superiors. But there’s another gain that can be even more valuable.

Instead of always needing to react and catch up, scenario planning tools help your CRE team gain the ability to proactively plan for the future of your business.

Spend some of the time you’ve saved with scenario planning tools getting to know the business units you serve. Learn as much as you can about their plans and their goals. Ask them how space can better meet their needs. For example, would it help to consolidate a team in one location, or to align teams that can benefit from working together? Would it be more useful to provide more meeting spaces that seat fewer people rather than a few big conference rooms?

Armed with this information, you can proactively plan workspaces that actually work for your business and have a significant impact on their productivity. You’ll also find yourself gaining a seat at the strategic table.

How can you get started? You’ll need a space management system that provides sophisticated scenario planning tools.

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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.