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Office space utilization: How to use flexible workspace strategies to cut costs

Office space utilization: How to use flexible workspace strategies to cut costs

Oct 13, 2023

6 mins read

Workspace Spend Management

Office space utilization in the United States is at a breaking point.  

Over 20% of office spaces in the United States are currently empty, at least according to a recent NPR report. But they’re still costing businesses millions of dollars, like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, who just recently had to pay out $181 million dollars for office space he couldn’t fill.  

But even with vacancies rising, pricing for office space per square foot is still high, particularly on the west coast. 

So, it’s no surprise that companies, many of which are transitioning to remote or hybrid-first offices, are seeking alternative options to the cost of real estate. Instead, they’re turning to flexible office strategies, like on-demand coworking spaces, to help cut costs and increase employee engagement and morale.

But before that transition can happen, companies need to evaluate their space utilization costs and understand why those metrics are so important.  

What is space utilization?  

The basic definition of space utilization is simply the amount of utilized space in an office. In more detailed terms, space utilization examines how the space within an office is being organized and actually used by employees, over time. 

What is space utilization important? 

While remote work was growing in popularity before the pandemic, COVID-19 definitely showed companies that employees could truly be creative, collaborative, and productive from anywhere.  And while many companies are moving toward a hybrid model, that’s leaving a fair amount of office space potentially unused, costing companies thousands or even millions of dollars. 

According to YaRooms, here are some important considerations for a company’s space utilization: 

  • The high cost of commercial real estate
  • The high cost of maintenance 
  • Poor office utilization (office space versus actual workspaces)
  • The increase in hybrid work arrangements, and flexible work in general
  • The ability to use funds in a better way, perhaps for employee wellbeing and development

So, how do you determine space utilization?

Gaining data about office space utilization can help companies create a much more efficient office. One popular approach is the 3-30-300 rule, which outlines how office space utilization and productivity directly impact the building cost. 

Using this rule, companies can expect to pay for the following, per square foot: 

  • $3 for utilities
  • $30 for rent
  • $300 for payroll 

In short, this means that for every unused square foot of office space, a company is paying an average of $333 per year. And while this might not sound like a lot, this figure can add up tremendously. 

How flexible workspace strategies can be implemented to help cut back on expenses

A number of companies are tapping into flexible workspace strategies, like on-demand coworking spaces, to help cut back on expenses, while offering an opportunity for employees to connect and collaborate with their own colleagues or those from outside their company. This contributes to a positive work-life balance, better employee engagement, and an overall increase in morale, all of which is a positive attribute for the success of any company. 

Here’s why this option is so viable: 

  1. Only pay for spaces when you need them. With flexible workspaces, you’re only paying for the spaces when you need them, saving you money on costly leases or mortgage payments. Through Flexspace, employees can book right through their Google Calendar, whether it’s well in advance or the day before they need a desk or room.
  2. Choose customized spaces based on employee usage. Some employees may not need a desk or private office, but rather access to meeting or conference rooms. Others may need a desk space where they can work on their “office” days. Flexible workspaces allow your team to choose the spaces that work for them, when they need them. 
  3. Streamlined budget tracking. Using flexible workspaces gives you full visibility into the specific costs per employee. Flexspace allows your managers or finance team to easily set a budget and track usage without the hassle of expense reports or reimbursement requests. Once you see a pattern of usage, you can adjust your budgets accordingly. 

As we look ahead to the future of work, the office as we know it has most definitely changed. Finding ways to bring employees and teams together, while keeping costs down, is going to be the defining force of who makes it and who doesn’t.