The workplace has evolved dramatically since 2020: organizations face constant pressure to increase productivity and reduce costs, real estate portfolios are shrinking, and the hybrid work model is growing, with an estimated 22% of Americans expected to work remotely by 2025. In this socioeconomic “new normal,” companies around the world are still struggling to manage their real estate and meet employee expectations.

Now is the time for businesses to develop an intellectual, deliberate approach to space management. That starts with sophisticated, data-driven initiatives that allow organizations to control every aspect of their portfolio from a single, centralized platform.  

Yet, while gathering data is easy at this point, understanding it and distilling that data into actionable insights remains many corporations “Mount Everest.” Here, we dive deeper into the importance of data in space management, including:

  • How to maximize data efficiency
  • Key data points to consider
  • Data benefits
  • Data challenges, and
  • The advanced analytics needed to make the best decisions for your business

Key Challenges in Space Management That Organizations Must Address

To meet expectations and face external pressures head-on, companies must effectively manage and optimize the use of their office spaces. This includes facing key challenges like:

Space Utilization

75% of companies plan to cut office space in 2024. Why? Inefficient use of space leads to wasted resources and increased costs. Identifying and addressing areas of underutilization is a common challenge.  

Conversely, overcrowded spaces can also pose a problem, leading to decreased employee satisfaction and productivity. In either case, people don’t have the freedom to utilize their space to its fullest potential, and this can have a significant negative impact, especially when you consider that people are 12% more likely to report being happy with their job when they have autonomy in their work environment.

Technology Integration

Integrating smart tech for efficient space management can be challenging. Sensors, IoT devices, and smart building solutions require careful planning and investment due to various factors that contribute to the successful deployment and operation of these technologies.  

Issues can arise like systems that are not well integrated, lack of communication between teams, and compliance concerns. Key considerations for successful implementation include:

  • Infrastructure requirements with a scalable network
  • Data security and privacy to protect information generated by sensors
  • Integration with existing building management systems
  • User training and support to effectively maintain these technologies
  • Regulatory compliance with local building codes and regulations

Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with local building codes, safety regulations, and environmental standards can add complexity to space management. These standards can vary significantly depending on the region, country, and even local municipality.

Some common regulations and potential difficulties associated with meeting them include:

  • Building Codes: Meeting these can be difficult in older structures that require renovations.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring space is accessible to all individuals, including those with a disability.
  • Zoning Regulations: Obtaining the necessary permits and approvals for use can be tough.
  • Occupancy Limits: This can be tough, particularly in spaces with varying crowd sizes.
  • Waste Management: Compliance involves proper waste segregation and disposal methods.

Challenges also exist in the realm of finance. For example, there is overlap between GASB 87 and other lease accounting standards like ASC 842 and IFRS 16. GASB more closely resembles IFRS 16. How do you know the difference between GASB and FASB standards?

Cost Management

The second biggest cost of doing business is real estate. Space management often involves significant financial investment. A business must balance the need for quality spaces with budget constraints. Ongoing operational costs, like maintenance, utilities, and cleaning, can be challenging to manage efficiently.

Some of the issues regarding finance in space management include:

  • Initial Capital Investment: Costs include construction, interior design, and technology.
  • Budget Constraints: Operating within predefined budgets while optimizing space quality.
  • Operational Costs: Meeting expenses like utilities, cleaning, and security requires strategy.
  • Return on Investment: Assessing the ROI for space management initiatives.
  • Technology Infrastructure: Investments in networking, equipment, and tech and ensuring they align with the budget.

Effective space management involves a delicate balance between creating high-quality spaces and adhering to financial constraints.

Additional Challenges:

  • Minimizing downtime - Need to keep downtime to a minimum to maintain operational continuity. Need to execute changes quickly, while ensuring everyone continues to work.
  • Monitoring lease expirations – Issues tracking and managing lease expirations and failing to monitor lease timelines leads to unexpected costs and interruptions.
  • Understanding headcount – Accurately predicting and understanding headcount fluctuations is necessary for stability in operations.
  • Changing workforce needs – Need to adapt physical spaces to meet changing workforce needs and flexible schedules require ongoing assessments and adjustments.
  • Employee engagement – Creating spaces that foster employee engagement and productivity, and ensuring physical environment aligns with company culture.

To overcome these challenges, you need to ensure that you have the right systems and data points, and that you're using them to make informed, effective space management decisions. Companies must embrace integrated planning, leverage technology for real-time insights, design adaptable and flexible spaces, conduct regular assessments, and implement effective communication.

Identifying Data Points

To utilize data effectively, you must first understand how it’s collected, and which data points are worth analyzing.

Technology plays a significant role in how a business manages its real estate portfolio. Consider investing in one or a few of these tools:

Data Analytics

This type of technology involves the collection and analysis of data related to space management. Leveraging advanced analytics enables businesses to identify inefficiencies, track performance, and make data-driven decisions.  

Data that is used for advanced analytics can include:

Sensor Data

This is comprised of real-time data on space usage and environmental conditions.

  • Occupancy sensors
  • Lighting sensors
  • Temperature and climate control
  • Smart building (noise level and CO2)
  • Power outlets and energy meters

Room Scheduling and Booking Data

It’s important to understand how meeting spaces are utilized. Scheduling data can be used to optimize room availability. Analyzing this data involves:

  • Reservation systems
  • Meeting room data and visual floor plans
  • Integration with collaboration tools
  • Automated reminders and notifications

Automation Systems

Smart building technologies, including controls and sensors, can help monitor and regulate systems like lighting, HVAC, and other parameters, to maximize efficiency and manage spaces successfully. These tools help a business collect important data for better decision making. Data sets can include:

Space Utilization Metrics

Analyzing desk and workspace utilization, while tracking trends in space usage, can help inform future planning. Some common metrics to track include:

  • Occupancy rate (percentage of occupied spaces)
  • Meeting room utilization
  • Space Turnover rate
  • Peak utilization hours
  • Square footage utilization
  • Badge data

Space density, booking lead time, and unoccupied space analysis are good figures to track too.

Headcount Data

This involves integrating headcounts into space planning, and correlating headcount data with workspace needs. Some common metrics include:

  • Total Headcount
  • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)
  • Employee Turnover Rate
  • Productivity metrics
  • Cost per Hire

Monitoring headcount can help a business determine how much space is required for a given number of employees, helping teams anticipate future needs. It also helps a company find the most cost-effective way to allocate space.

Internet of Things

IoT devices can gather data on occupancy patterns and equipment performance. This information can then be used to optimize space utilization and improve maintenance processes.  

Market Data

This data type is particularly important to analyze when purchasing a new property or entering a new lease. It helps to identify what a given property is worth. Lease-cost benchmarking shows if it makes sense to renew a lease, and whether you’re overpaying or underpaying based on the market rate.

Other Types of Technology

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Cloud computing for off-site infrastructure
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • Big data and analytics
  • Cybersecurity

Important Data Sets to Consider

Now, for most organizations, the technology section listed above is a “no brainer.” Instead, where they’re getting stuck is gleaning information from those systems and compiling the data for accurate, actionable insights. To solve this problem, you have to know which data points give the most insight.  

And this is a significant pain point across the board. Most companies are still in the early stages of their CRE data journey. According to a recent study, only 13% of businesses put themselves among the most advanced for data analytics maturity, while 59% say they do not regularly capture and report data (or only do so intermittently).


How to Utilize Space Management Data More Effectively 

According to a recent Forrester survey, 86% of respondents feel it’s important or extremely important to leverage portfolio data to optimize real estate investments, yet 81% say it’s challenging or extremely challenging to do so. How can companies utilize space management data more effectively?

Invest in the Right Technology

Business intelligence solutions can be complex and expensive. Companies should stop trying to build their own systems and instead find the best technology to meet their needs. Proptech helps to facilitate data-driven decision-making.  

Look for a dedicated space management platform that ingests and distills relevant data from as many sources as possible. The right tools will help you take control of your space utilization with purpose-built analytics, forecasting, and move management.

Employ Visualization Tools

Employ analytics and visualization systems to help turn raw data into actionable insights. Tools like dashboards, graphs, and heatmaps can help identify trends, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement.

You can also use space management data to optimize office layouts and designs. This may involve rearranging workspaces, adjusting furniture configurations, and creative collaborative zones based on usage patterns.  

Consolidate Data from Disparate Systems

Integrate space management data with other relevant sources like facility maintenance records, sensors, booking systems, employee schedules, and environmental data.  

This helps to provide a more comprehensive view of space utilization. It’s also important to implement automated systems for real-time data syncs.  

Develop Real-Time Data Insights

Advanced analytics enables users to analyze their current real estate portfolio, plan for the future, and execute changes to make a positive impact.  

Automate Maintenance Management

A user-friendly, web-based CMMS system helps you reduce downtime, maximize effectiveness, and avoid costly failures before they happen.

The CMMS software market is projected to reach $1.7 billion (about $5 per person in the US) by 2028, so this trend is taking hold. However, many computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) make it easy to put data in, but difficult to take it out.


The best solutions offer dashboards with real-time data and insights that are easy to access. This helps a business overcome its most pressing pain points, like the lack of transparency and disparate data sources. Utilize sensors and IoT devices to monitor space usage in real time, allowing you to make stronger decisions based on current conditions.

Practice Continuous Monitoring

Space utilization patterns can evolve over time. It’s necessary to regularly review and update strategies based on the latest data. This allows companies to ensure they get the most out of real estate investments. You can avoid costly mistakes like leasing too much space or making expensive renovations that are not needed.

It’s also critical to monitor lease expirations and early out deadlines. This helps a business to plan better and identify opportunities to reduce costs. It enables more flexibility in a real estate portfolio and fosters greater agility. For example, when a lease is expiring soon, a business can start searching for a new location to ensure a smooth transition.  

Additionally, keeping tabs on maintenance costs allows companies to identify areas where expenses can be reduced. A business stays informed on the condition of the building and can immediately address any safety issues.

Additional Suggestions

  • Implement flexible workspaces with multi-functional areas
  • Integrate space utilization data for energy efficiency
  • Use historical data to forecast future space needs
  • Combine quantitative data with qualitative feedback
  • Ensure strategies align with compliance regulations

Final Thoughts

Competently utilizing data in space management is the key to unlocking insights that can drive productivity and lead to serious cost savings. You can’t fix what you don’t measure. The right technology will help with a myriad of issues, from space utilization inefficiencies to compliance complexities.  

To utilize space management data productively, businesses should:

  • Invest in the smart technology that automates processes
  • Consolidate information from disparate systems
  • Develop real-time data insights and continuously monitor metrics

Organizations that utilize space management data effectively will better navigate current challenges, positioning themselves for future success.

Accruent is a leading provider of innovative solutions that help a business navigate the complex landscape of business space management. Offering the latest in corporate space intelligence (CSI), an organization can optimize space utilization, track usage, increase efficiency, and improve space-related decision-making. Learn more with EMS, Accruent’s intelligent space management and room scheduling software.