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Facility planning: focus on an essential step of workspace management

Published:

July 26, 2023

Updated:

July 27, 2023

Facility planning not only creates a more efficient office but also serves your employees’ needs and helps tackle new trends, such as hybrid work. With flexible schedules becoming more popular, managing workers and office space tends to be more complicated. However, having a facility management strategy allows businesses to organize their resources and space to ensure a seamless workflow, cost savings, and staff satisfaction. Being the second highest cost after human resources, physical work environments are a primary element of the business budget and therefore need to be managed accordingly. 

But running an office space and all the aspects going along with it goes beyond simple allocation. It involves data-driven analysis, people-centric solutions, and a focus on future-proofing the workplace. In this article, we will explore the importance of facility planning and dive into the most important elements of a successful facility management strategy. By understanding and mastering this key aspect, organizations can craft workplaces that enhance employee experience, boost productivity, and align with broader business objectives.

What is facility planning? 

The definition of facility planning

Facility planning is defined as an approach used by companies to organize their facilities and resources. It ensures that the right amount of space and tools are  available for employees to allow the business to operate smoothly and achieve its goals.

This proactive approach requires developing space and resource managing strategy rather than allocating tools and workspace without thought. It is often a data-driven process that involves the collection of utilization and occupancy data to understand how a space is being used. 

The ultimate goal of facility planning is to ensure that business success is achieved by creating an office space that is conducive to work.

The four different aspects to consider to create a successful facility management strategy

The most important aspects when developing a facility management plan are: 

  1. People: what do your employees expect from the space and how to fulfill their needs so that they can perform their jobs to the best of their abilities?
  2. Technologies: what are the tools that need to be implemented to streamline certain processes and help gather data to make more confident decisions about the space?
  3. Building and landscape: how does the actual space looks and functions, including its meeting rooms and desks?
  4. Processes and practices: what is the organizational process of facility management that help allocate space and resources effectively?

CRE professionals and Facility managers' roles in developing strategic facility planning

CRE professionals and facility managers both play a key part in facility planning. Their main goal is space optimization. This means adapting a space to be as efficient, both in terms of productivity and cost, and conducive to work as possible.

While their roles overlap, CRE professionals work on a more broad scope, looking at real estate management on the whole. While facility managers’ job is narrower, focusing on each facility itself and the improvements that need to be made. All of this being said both aim to create a physical workplace that matches business plans and answers employees' needs.

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People looking at building plan
CRE managers looking at facility plan

Why is facility planning important for businesses?

Make the physical work environment efficient and future-proof

Businesses should implement a facility management strategy for a variety of reasons, especially as new ways of working become commonplace. This enables organizations to adapt to hybrid work, for example. To manage collaborative work when employees are on-site, the right facility management techniques need to be employed. This implies using the right technology to manage employees' time and work location. 

Additionally, future-proofing the physical environment requires aligning with employees’ expectations, which are shifting to include more sustainability in the office and greater overall autonomy. Let’s take sustainability, for example. To create a more sustainable workplace, companies must measure and adjust energy usage. This cannot be done without facility planning.

Optimize the workspace according to your business goals

These measures also contribute to achieving business goals. A well-suited workplace is essential for overall success. This includes creating an environment that is conducive to work and, more specifically, created to enhance the individual experience of each employee and the job that they do. Use facility management to understand which spaces are used most and what your team needs more of. 

An optimized workspace also has financial benefits. If one of your business goals is to increase cost efficiency, facility planning helps reduce costs through designing or downsizing the office space differently to meet business needs.

Enhance employee experience and increase satisfaction

A company’s core is its employees, so keeping them satisfied is essential. Facility planning ensures team members have the type of workspace they need, whether that is more individual focus areas, group collaboration spaces, or parts of the office dedicated to well-being and relaxation. You want to create a physical environment where workers feel good and motivated. This can mean a number of different things but can include better lighting, rest areas, or more green space. If we want to get people back into the office, we need to give them a reason to commute.

Moreover, develop a sense of belonging to help boost corporate culture. In flexible environments, this can be tricky. But research shows that many employees are missing that personal connection with their colleagues. Thus, using facility planning strategies, such as creating an office that serves as a social hub in addition to being a workspace, can help bring people together.

Save and reduce office costs

The right workplace strategy can also reduce office costs. A fully optimized office is one where all space has a purpose and can be utilized in a way that boosts productivity. In other words, making sure each area has a purpose, and no space is being left unused. With rent skyrocketing in many major cities, wasted space is wasted money. Therefore using facility planning to understand the utilization and occupancy of the workspace ensures that the office is optimized or is downsized if not all areas are needed. Additionally, by understanding how and when your team uses a space, energy consumption can also be reduced. Fewer people in a specific space means less energy used.

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Woman looking at line graph on laptop
Manger looking at building data

What are the basic rules for a successful corporate real estate and facility management strategy?

Determine your goals and needs

Every good strategy begins with determining the target goals you hope to achieve. Start by thinking about how you can align your CRE and Facility management strategy with the company’s goals. For example, if the company goals are reducing costs and increasing efficiency, strategize ways that facility management can help get there. In this case, looking for ways to downsize or reduce energy consumption would manage costs. Designing a workplace that motivates work and meets employees' needs would increase efficiency.

Analyze the current situation

Once goals are outlined, the next step is to analyze the current workplace situation. Depending on the target, this could mean different things. If becoming more sustainable is the goal in this case, measure energy consumption to see how much is being used and to find areas where it can be reduced. You can also track who is coming into the office each day. They could carpool, or the company could subsidize more environmentally friendly modes of transportation like trains. 

In most cases, space optimization begins with gathering data on occupancy and utilization of the space. A great way to do this is by using a hot-desking or week-planning app. This allows leaders to see who is coming in when and what areas of the office they are using most.

Monitor the future of work trends

Any modern facility planning strategy requires keeping up with work trends, the most pertinent at the moment being flexible work models. The rise of remote work, for example, means employees are using different workplaces and are possibly distributed around the world. This affects how much space is needed or if any office is needed at all. It also shifts employees' needs. They may require co-working spaces or a budget to build their home office. 

Hybrid work is on the major uptrend at the moment, as it combines the benefits of remote work with the collaboration of in-person interactions. This is important for businesses to keep in mind when developing their facility planning strategy because it greatly impacts how the space will be used. Employees will likely come in for socializing and collaboration but keep focused-work at home.

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Woman working on computer and calculator
Manager developing facility management plan.

Create your facility planning strategy

The final step is to put all of these pieces together. Now that all the data is gathered and you have a clear idea about what needs to be accomplished, it is time to put it into practice. 

In order to execute these goals, our recommendation is to implement workplace technology to streamline the process, from gathering data to organizing your employees and managing the workspace itself. There are a number of highly integrated software available that work with your existing office management systems, like Slack or Google Calendars. Hot desking apps, car park reservation systems, and week planning platforms are great examples!

Set facility management KPIs

Post-implementation, it is time to measure the success of your strategy. The best way to do this is by setting facility management KPIs

Setting these KPIs helps determine if the changes that are made benefit the company and employees or not. Did energy consumption decrease? Are employees more productive? Were costs reduced? Answers to these questions enable Facility managers to understand if the changes implemented made a positive impact. They also reveal areas of improvement for future facility planning strategies. These KPIs can be measured through workplace technology (IoT), IWMS, feedback, and financial reports.

Facility planning is essential for the success of your business. From making the physical work environment efficient and future-proof to saving and reducing office costs, among other benefits mentioned above. When delving into a facility management strategy, start with your team members and their needs. Determine their expectations and requirements to perform to the best of their abilities. With the right technology and a employee-centric approach, you can ensure the successful implementation of your plan. In turn, this can help create a workplace that not only maintains and increase employee satisfaction but also optimizes operational efficiency

By setting clear goals, analyzing their current situation, monitoring future work trends, and implementing workplace technology, companies optimize their offices. This clearly helps them to be more efficient and cost-effective. All of this contributes to preparing your organization for the future of work, including employee demands for sustainable and flexible workplaces

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Facility planning: focus on an essential step of workspace management

Annabel Benjamin

Annabel is a hybrid work expert who combines insightful strategies with practical applications to help navigate the changing landscape of modern employment. Her writings provide a wealth of tips, best practices, and innovative approaches to boost productivity, foster team cohesion, and maintain a healthy work-life balance in hybrid settings. 

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