Utilisation studies now focus on activity

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Activity-based utilisation reporting has become more important now we’re migrating from static to agile workplaces, writes BLIGH WILLIAMS, senior property and workplace space strategist at workplace space planning solutions (wsps).

Over the past 12 months, the interest and demand for organisations to complete activity-based utilisation reporting has become more important for many organisations and their advisers, as many organisations are migrating from traditional static workplace design to one that is agility- or activity-based.

At workplace space planning solutions (wsps), we have been working with clients to not just ensure that recording and reporting of utilisation of space occurs, but also to report on how the space is used. The importance
of this reporting is normally driven from assessing soft spots in recently completed workplace fitouts, or as a part of the due diligence behind the development of a new workplace design scope.

There has been a range of industries interested in these findings, including known leaders in agility working environments, such as information technology, along with the more traditional workplaces such as the public sector, education, legal and accountancy.

The measuring of activity utilisation is
best divided into a number of key activities such as working independently, teleconferencing, the type of formal meetings, informal collaboration, project work, recreation and the number of people that are involved in these activities.

This detailed form of reporting does not
only help the organisation understand how their people are using their workplace but, more importantly, is an integral part of the design scope to ensure that a new work environment meets the needs of the business, as each business is different, even within the same industry.

Architects and designers in this space are very interested in the findings that come from these reports, as they definitely can make the difference between a great workplace compared to a good workplace.

In existing workplaces, activity-based utilisation reporting allows organisations to address how they can modify existing fitouts that are maybe five or 10 years old. It can 
also drive greater efficiency and use of the space. The activity utilisation reports also often identify that a space is not being used as it has the wrong furniture solution, and simply swapping this out will make a poorly utilised space have exceptional utilisation all of a sudden.

However, the measuring of activity is not
just confined to the traditional workplace as
we know it. Many industries are using it to determine how their staff and visitors are
using traditional cafeterias and client meeting spaces to ensure that, if these spaces are to
be refreshed, the built environment and the technology within this environment is in line with the activities being conducted in this space.

With these results being recorded by expert workplace strategists who focus on taking a more ethnographic approach to utilisation observation, we see a better return on investment in comparison to the traditional metric measurement of space utilisation.

It also allows middle and senior management to see what activities are being carried out by their employees to deliver the results that they see. This type of reporting is essential information for a work practice change management scheme.

With increased pressure on organisations
to achieve greater utilisation of their space – not necessarily reducing the space they have, but building capacity as their business grows and changes – these activity-based utilisation reports are key, particularly if the economy is expected to enter a growth cycle.

This year, wsps will be launching an activity-based utilisation app, which will
allow real-time reporting that can report
on what type of activities are being carried out, where and by whom. It can report on all areas such as neighbourhoods, team zones and breakout areas, with the reporting being able to be customised to suit a client’s exact needs. The app can be used under a licensing subscription agreement with ongoing support or used by the wsps team of utilisation specialists to report back to the organisation on a consultancy basis.

The demands to report on utilisation
of space will continue to grow as more organisations enter the space of agile- or activity-based working, and the ones that are already there need to go back and review how their workplace utilisation could be improved to a new level by listening to how their people use the existing workplace design.

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