The Data Debate: Is Your Space Working For You?

Posted: Updated:

I often get asked the question: How do we know if our space is working? How do we know if our space is too large or too small?  How do we know if we have enough "we" spaces for team collaboration versus "I" spaces for focus and individual work?

Why does space matter?

We all know that employees are our #1 expense, with overhead #2. So how do we maximize our real estate investment while keeping employees engaged and achieving our business objectives? How do we know for sure that something is the right solution?

For Business Furniture and Choreo, data has been critical in helping our clients understand the gaps that may exist in their workplaces... gaps that impact the company’s overall business strategy. Data informs us how space is working for you and perhaps - more importantly - how it isn’t.

We recognize that a collection of data points is necessary to tell the true story. Focus groups and survey data of employees is important, but we’ve learned that many employees have an inaccurate sense of reality of their workspace usage and tend to overestimate the time they spend in their individual space. Observation of the use of space - private versus collaborative, time of day, etc. - helps to balance subjective and objective data and to paint a clearer picture of how your space is working for you.

A new tool from Steelcase, Workplace Advisor provides reliable, real-time data into space utilization. Discreet sensors detect where, when, and how long people use spaces - helping audit existing use and inform future planning.

About a month ago, we put Steelcase’s Workplace Advisor to work for us in the Indianapolis Business Furniture space. And the output thus far has been fascinating in a lot of ways. The data challenges assumptions on conference room usage, for example, while supporting ideas about how often other spaces are utilized. The data paints a clear picture. It helps us evolve our space into one that empowers our people to do their best work.

Doing all the data collection helps build a complete strategy around what types of spaces are truly effective. It helps us to right-size your spaces and fine-tune your whole plan. Data helps us uncover emerging trends in our workplaces sooner. It gives us certainty.

Imagine being able to make a decision with clarity, while having the ability to take the risk out of making decisions about your space?

When it comes to gathering data in your workspace, actions really do speak louder than words. Are you ready to listen?

Mary Beth Oakes is the CEO of Business Furniture and Choreo, a Women Owned Business enterprise specializing in workplace research, strategy, and change management.

  • Perspectives

    • Expand Your Workforce to Include The Deaf Community

      While there are arguably many minority groups that are grossly underutilized in the workforce, I’d wager that most people do not consider the Deaf community when thinking about diversity and inclusion strategies. The Deaf community shares a unique culture that is closely networked, but few employers know how to tap into this community, which comprises 10 percent of the population. In fact, many people probably see barriers for the Deaf community when it comes to employment...



Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • The Union Club Hotel was built in 1929. (photo courtesy of Purdue University)

      $30M Gift to Fund Purdue Hotel Renovation

      Purdue University says it plans to use a $30 million gift to transform an existing building into a world-class hotel. The gift from Bruce White, a Purdue alumnus and former trustee, his wife Beth, and the Dean and Barbara White Foundation, will fund the renovation of the Union Club Hotel, which will also serve as a laboratory learning environment for students. The university says the renovations will feature upgrades in furnishings, fixtures, and amenities for the hotel, as well as a...
    • (Image of downtown Shelbyville courtesy of Mainstreet Shelbyville Inc.)

      'Backyard Shelby' Involves, Seeks Young Talent

      The city of Shelbyville is looking to make itself more attractive to young and diverse professionals by going straight to the source and asking what they want. The city has launched Backyard Shelby, a group of young professionals helping to develop and implement a talent attraction and retention strategy. Mayor Tom DeBaun says the group will focus promoting the city's livability, amenities and "sense of authentic community" to new talent. DeBaun says Shelby County's...

    • PGA TOUR Superstore to Open in Indy

      A popular golf retailer will Saturday open its first location in Indiana. The PGA TOUR Superstore location in Indianapolis replaces the recently-closed Babies"R"Us location at the Clearwater Crossing Shopping Center.

    • (Image courtesy of Harrison College.)

      Milhaus Details Purchase of Harrison College Indy Campus

      Indianapolis-based Milhaus says it plans to build a 183-unit apartment complex on the same lot as the Indianapolis campus of recently-closed Harrison College. The development, construction and management company purchased the property last month for $6.3 million and Marketing Director Raven Reckley says the college's decision to close was "news to us." She adds Milhaus is "disappointed for the students and staff who are affected most" and will be evaluating...

    • Ribbon Cut on Downtown Fishers Housing

      The city of Fishers and Indianapolis-based Gradison Design-build have cut the ribbon on the first homes of a $30 million downtown residential development. The developers say the first section will have 20 homes, with a total of 50 coming over the next five years. Partner Joe Gradison says South Village of Nickel Plate gives residents high-demand housing options in a walkable, urban environment. In interviews with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Gradison and...