Leverage floor balancing to reduce costs in your hybrid office
Many companies around the world are embracing the flexibility of hybrid work policies to attract and retain staff. While these policies are fantastic for employee engagement, the now highly variable nature of office attendance is triggering changes in the way companies need to manage their office space.
Are your offices busiest on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday every week? You’re not alone! XY Sense data from workplaces worldwide consistently show that offices are 65% busier mid-week compared to Mondays and Fridays.
On ‘surge days’, it can be frustrating for employees to find a seat or meeting space. While on less popular in-office days, quiet floors can feel like ghost-towns without any vibe,” and operating costs run unnecessarily high when you’re lighting, heating/cooling and servicing entire floors for just a few people. So what’s the solution?
What is floor balancing
Floor balancing is a strategy to activate the correct amount of office space or floors to match the average recorded occupancy/utilization for that day of the week. Workplace teams analyze their relevant utilization insights and elect certain floors and popular spaces to be “active” on a given day. When employees go to book or desk or room, or enter the workplace, they are assigned a workstation in one of the areas that is “open” on that day. Floors and areas that are not open ideally have reduced lift access and an associated reduction in heating, cooling, and other services costs.
On days when relatively few employees are expected, companies can operate a minimum number of floors. If more employees are expected to attend on a particular day (per booking data or planned events), the company activates more floors. The idea is to optimize floor density and reduce workplace operating costs like utilities, heating and cooling, as well as cleaning services. Not to mention reducing overall carbon emissions from half empty office floors running at 100% energy expenditure.
Workplace leaders can enable floor balancing by:
- Capturing accurate data on occupancy (attendance rates) and space utilization. XY Sense is developing dedicated dashboards to deliver these exact insights at the click of a button!
- Implementing desk and room booking tools with the ability to toggle spaces/floors “on” and “off” for booking
- Taking a proactive approach to communication with employees on which spaces will be “active” on certain days and why this new demand-driven approach is being implemented
- Working with building owners / and or facilities teams to effectively manage lift access
For workplace teams without building management access (for lifts, lighting and HVAC), floor balancing initiatives may not be possible or may pose some additional contracting hurdles. But, the potential savings (outlined below) warrant serious consideration from any workplace leader looking to reduce real estate costs.
How floor balancing can reduce costs
The potential savings from adopting floor balancing can be significant. One of the most compelling reasons to initiate floor-balancing initiatives is to reduce energy expenses. To demonstrate the immense size of these potential savings, consider a real-world scenario for a large organization with 30,000 employees and 4.5M square feet of workspace.
Let’s say the company has a hybrid work policy with approximately 75% office utilization on Tuesdays and Thursdays but only 15-20% on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Energy consumption costs were $2.14 per square foot, and cleaning costs were 50 cents per square foot.
If the company were to implement a floor balancing initiative to close floors dynamically on low occupancy days to reduce costs, the savings quickly add up to millions of dollars annually.
Annual Expenses for Energy and Cleaning ($Millions of USD)
Without Floor Balancing
With Floor Balancing
Note: Provided operational costs are based on US averages* sourced from publicly available research.
In this example, floor balancing could save 35% of energy and cleaning expenses! Almost $3M in reduced costs!
Floor balancing can also help eliminate space, prevent unnecessary furniture and electronic purchases, minimize construction costs, and shrink cleaning and heating/cooling requirements. It also contributes to a company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. When you don’t heat and cool a space, you reduce energy demand. The 35% savings we identified in the previous example means a similar reduction in carbon emissions.
Another significant benefit is a better office vibe. Adjusting the available workspace by the number of employees likely to use it optimizes floor density, which helps create a sufficient “vibe” to foster maximum communication and productivity. It helps deliver a positive work environment for employees when they are in the office.
Given the combination of savings and an improved working environment, it is easy to see why many companies are exploring floor balancing.
Workplace analytics platforms and floor balancing
Having a workplace analytics platform to provide the necessary data and insights is the key to getting floor balancing right. A workplace analytics platform is a software tool designed to help organizations monitor and analyze the use of physical spaces in their commercial real estate portfolio. These platforms commonly report on occupancy, movement, and utilization of physical spaces within a workplace by displaying data collected in various workplace zones.
This data is most commonly collected through the use of workplace sensors. Occupancy sensors come in two types, entry sensors and area sensors. Entry sensors provide data on entry, exit, and overall counts of people using an office. Area sensors measure the utilization of specific office areas and resources. Both can empower real estate professionals to make better forecasts of future needs and rightsizing decisions.
The best platforms, like XY Sense, combine high precision, privacy-preserving sensor hardware with real-time workplace analytics to provide a precise picture of how people use the office space in real time and across time. Workplace or corporate real estate teams can log into the workplace analytics platform to view live and historical occupancy reports and analyze the use of different spaces such as desks, meeting rooms, phone booths, and breakout/social spaces. By analyzing the average occupancy and utilization of these spaces they can determine how much space and the types of spaces their employees require to be productive and happy in their work environments.
Further benefits arise if the occupancy intelligence platform you select offers API integrations. Once integrated with a company’s booking technology, teams can access live views of which desks and meeting rooms are currently in use, book available spaces in real-time, and end the phenomenon of ‘ghost bookings’ where rooms and desks are booked and marked as unavailable but not actually occupied. This often drives marked improvement in employee satisfaction and productivity and enables even more precise forecasting for floor balancing and many other needs.
To learn more about floor balancing and other occupancy analytics strategies you can employ to reduce real estate costs, check out our latest whitepaper “Rightsize Right: A guide to reducing costs and improving workplace experience through occupancy analytics”.
Or get in touch with the XY Sense team today. We’d love to discuss your challenges and how to help you deliver cost savings and an enhanced working environment.