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Space Utilization, Corporate Real Estate Strategy - 8 min read

How to incorporate data in Corporate Real Estate decision making - 5 key steps

Daan Wonnink January 9, 2020

Traditional ways of gathering space utilization data in Corporate Real Estate are ineffective. Procedures like manual headcounts still often lead to ineffective discussions between Corporate Real Estate and the business. When there is no agreement between the two, space utilization technology creates the perfect opportunity for Corporate Real estate to change the nature of these conversations. Technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data produce various possibilities to have informed discussions and make data-driven decisions based on real-time data.

This article does not cover how to select the right space utilization technology for your needs, yet it has a clear focus on how to integrate data in your decision-making processes. We’ve listed these 5 steps to enable you to maximize value, once you know what it is that you want to achieve.

When your Corporate Real Estate team is making its first steps to becoming truly data-driven, it’s extremely important to have a clear understanding of what it is that you want to achieve before moving in any direction. Clearly defining desired results and expected outcome, will lead to real life business value. Simply gathering data doesn’t make the cut. The output of the technology you’ve selected should be incorporated in your processes in order to truly fulfil the potential that lies in space utilization technology. 

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1. Align internal stakeholders early on

A very important early step when undertaking any step towards selecting space utilization technology is to align internal stakeholders. This seems like an obvious one, yet it’s not seldom that an internal stakeholder is forgotten early on, which in the best case only slows down the entire process. IT, Security and Legal/Privacy should be informed proactively in an early stage, when you start the selection process for space utilization technology. By doing this, you ensure they understand what you are trying to achieve. Issues, potential delays and disappointments down the line will be avoided.

2. Set baseline

Once the technology is in place and internal stakeholders are aligned, you can quickly achieve a data baseline. Once you have set up your data baseline, you will get a very good understanding of what is going on in your portfolio and a specific target can be set. Suppose you’re looking to decommission space and the savings potential in your building is 30%, a good first target would be to make it to 10%. Take a longer period of at least 12 months to work towards that goal, and realize that there are some necessary steps before you get to your end goal. 

3. Tangible results

As soon as a baseline is created, and a target has been set, understanding and interpreting what the data output is actually telling you is the next success milestone. As this might be a new endeavor, it is advisable to either work with a team or solution that is able to make these insights actionable for you. Because the first low hanging fruits can be picked based on these insights, it is vital that you interpret the data correctly. Creating business value by quickly realizing tangible results, is the key to create a successful space utilization initiative. 

4. Align stakeholder wishes and company strategy

We’ve talked about the importance of aligning stakeholders in an early stage. There’s another group of stakeholders that will need your guidance during the execution of your space utilization roadmap. It is important to know the stakeholder landscape that will do the work to execute on your vision. And especially, what challenges they will encounter when they work to create results. As a Corporate Real Estate Manager, you will take decisions on a portfolio, or perhaps building level. When the data tells you that a group of floors in a certain building are not used efficiently, as a consequence the local responsible person will have to create a plan to improve this. At the same time, business unit managers might ask you for more workspaces while they most likely don’t need them, as you can see in the data. And the company strategy might be to look to decommission space, which will always lead to friction in the office. Understanding the challenges that each of these situations local responsible has, and helping them explain the decisions that are made by senior leadership, is instrumental in executing your vision on space utilization.

5. Create a continuous loop of optimization

The strength of using technology to validate your portfolio strategies, is that you can now continuously quantify what is happening in each building in your portfolio at any specific moment in time. This enables you and your team to create a continuous loop of improvement. Interpreting data-driven results, implementing new tactics, which lead to a new baseline, this continued optimization process will bring you closer and closer to your desired end state. As you take action upon the data, the technology you use should enable you to easily report to all stakeholders. This ensures long term business success.

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Daan Wonnink

Daan loves to be a pioneer and create new ideas. As a marketeer, he is always looking to gain new insights, validating these insights with data. He is driven by long-term vision.