SPACE, A Big Data Harvest

With real estate rents at a premium and competition for attracting and retaining the best talent at an all-time high, the spatial configuration, and design efficiency of our workplace is often an overlooked solution that can account for up to 26% of job satisfaction and 11% of team productivity. Data is increasingly driving many real estate and workplace design decisions.  By carrying out a space utilisation study, data can highlight workplace inefficiencies and opportunities to improve performance.  The results can show how to best leverage the workplace as a tool to tackle key organisational objectives and better support the workforce.

To help us gain a deeper understanding of the physical performance of space we often conduct space utilisation studies to validate the perceived patterns of space use, which provide quantitative evidence to support initiatives such as the introduction of agile working, the repurposing of space, and the understanding of work pattern behaviours. The findings allow us to make informed decisions when seeking to provide an environment that best supports its users.



Working closely with a global fintech organisation with whom we have a long standing relationship, we conducted a space utilisation study at their UK headquarters to discover the workstyles of their various departments with particular interest in collaboration points. The findings unearthed that certain work activities had been taking place in the wrong work settings, due to proximities and locations within the workplace, resulting in misalignment between supply and demand. We were able to highlight these spaces and recommend a strategic placement of work settings that improved space and utilisation efficiencies whilst better aligning to work activities requirements. 


A leading global innovative communications and network organisation appointed us to discover the true workplace requirements of their business and conduct a building due diligence investigation exploring various occupancy strategies and opportunities to create a dynamic community building of the future that best supported the workforce whilst attracting and retaining talent. As part of the discovery phase we carried out a space utilisation study in order to test the viability of releasing an additional floor for coworking and incubator space that would provide additional revenue to fund the recommended project interventions. The results identified opportunities for introducing new department neighbourhoods equipped with informed team desk sharing that unlocked space for providing a variety of alternative work settings complementing the diverse work activities that take place.


Can we fit more people in the workplace? 

By understanding the true occupancy levels of the workplace, tailored desk sharing ratios can be introduced supporting:

  • Future headcount growth.
  • Merger of company acquisitions.
  • Consolidation of other buildings.
  • Reducing the amount of workspace required.
  • Opportunities for subletting.

Can we offer a more versatile work environment?

By understanding the performance of space as a result of true utilisation, opportunities can be identified for reconfiguring more responsive space that:

  • Attracts and retain talent.
  • Improves the performance of staff.
  • Increases the efficiency of space.
  • Eliminates the need to rent an extra floor or relocate to other buildings.

How can our workplace work harder?

By understanding how proximities to work settings impact their use and the types of activities taking place in space, the results visualise supply and demand in order to:

  • Develop space planning principles.
  • Inform menu of setting requirement.
  • Identify workplace behaviours and activities.
  • Build a business case for workplace change.


The study captures occupancy levels, numbers of people and frequency of particular activities covering approximately 400 observation points per route by one observer, at set times during the work day, typically over a week period. Larger studies with more observation points are divided into zoned routes each to be toured by one observer. The findings highlight the average amount of time people spend at their desks and in other locations, in addition to the type of activities they are undertaking and the number of people involved, enabling us to measure the degree of individual and collaborative work being carried out in a variety of spaces. This aids us in understanding the work patterns of each department, and the utilisation and capacity demands of various spaces.

To get started we need up-to-date plans of the workplace showing all furniture and rooms to be observed, identifying the teams and departments. Our team of experienced observers are discreet and carry out studies with minimum intrusion using handheld tablets to capture the data. Alternatively occupancy sensors can be fitted throughout the workplace monitoring utilisation levels in real time without the need for observers. This approach however would miss the opportunity to capture the various activities taking place and the technologies being used, providing strong insights for the workplace strategy and any design interventions.

Take control of your workplace by taking the study and let’s make your workplace work for you.

If you would like to find out more information about space utilisation studies and how they can be used to make informed real estate decisions and evidence based workplace design then please get in touch for an informal chat.

Jordan Jones, Design Strategist, HLW London
+44 (0)20 7566 6830
Peter Bacevice, Director of Research, HLW New York
212 353 4746