As workplaces evolve, the number of variables used to plan them also grows. In traditional offices, if a desk fit, it worked! We know today that it’s about more than just physical space. Consider space planning using hot desks and it quickly becomes evident that the workplace is a delicate ecosystem. Considering every variable is important.

Whether rearranging an existing workplace, implementing a new desking concept, or occupying new facilities, make space planning a priority. It’s not about getting desks to fit or filling the space to 100% capacity. The objective of good space planning is to provide employees the workspaces they need and a way to utilize them effectively. Here are five important considerations:

1. Available square footage

Available square footage determines what you can do with it. It qualifies (or disqualifies) certain desking arrangements and narrow the number of people who may occupy it. And, when you do decide who and what will occupy it, square footage lets you quantify the cost of the utilization. A digital office space planning software tool is key to understanding the workplace at its base level.

2. Room capacity

Available square footage naturally lends itself to another important factor in space planning: room capacity. Knowing how many employees comfortably fit in a room also dictates what you can do with the space. This figure also helps narrow desking options, which in turn streamlines utilization options.

Again, room capacity is useful in space planning at micro and macro levels. A facility manager can look at the total office capacity of a floor vs. employee counts from entire departments to piece together an applicable floor plan. Likewise, they can look at a single area that’s underutilized to reimagine the desking arrangement based on the number of employees that space accommodates.

3. Workspace demand

Effective space planning meets the needs of employees with applicable workspaces. That means the best office space planning ideas come from looking at demand. Consider workspace demand when evaluating how to improve workplace utilization and usage.

You can measure demand directly and indirectly. If employees tell you they need more collaborative workspaces because existing ones are always occupied, it’s a direct demand. If you collect data on workspace utilization and find hot desks aren’t well utilized, it’s an indirect observation of demand. Put together a picture of demand to inform space planning decisions.

4. Workspace type

Utilization stems from the types of workspaces offered and how they’re successfully used—given the space they occupy. It’s possible to create a workspace with high demand, yet see poor utilization because of inadequate space planning. Likewise, a workspace may be perfectly situated, yet see low utilization due to lack of demand. In either case, workspace type is the critical factor. Choosing the right one and ensuring it has the room to flourish are what’s important.

It’s smart to use space planning software when designing a floor plan. Digitally mapping a space  helps facility managers see what works and what doesn’t before they make changes. It’s a great way to tinker with a workspace type vs. the elements that’ll make or break its utilization.

5. Floor plan design

It’s possible to create great workspaces that fall short of their potential, simply because of how they’re laid out in relation to the greater workplace. Employees might not use a meeting space because it’s too far away from their desks. Or, hot desks might go unused because they’re too close to a loud, busy environment. Floor plan design is critical to successful space planning.

Putting workspaces together is a puzzle. The final picture is a workplace with the correct types of spaces to adequately accommodate employees and in proximity to where they’ll best be utilized.

Successful space planning starts small and scales up, from a workspace to its place in the total workplace. Square footage dictates capacity, which predicates workspace type, which is subject to demand. As each individual space develops, it’s pieced together with others to create a workspace that meets the two core tenants of good space planning: provide employees with workspaces they need and ways to utilize them effectively.

Keep reading: Space planning software buyers guide.

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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.