Open Office Layout

Office Space Utilization – how to calculate the optimum use of office space.

The use of today’s office space is changing owing to how many of our working practices have evolved to maximize the benefits of ‘mobile technology’. In simple terms, office space is now literally that, space for an office, but in the case of much of today’s office space, that space is not the sole ‘domain’ of one individual.

No longer is an employee’s kingdom their desk, but instead, it simply becomes a functional space that can be utilized on an ‘as-and-when-needed’ basis. The consequence is that there is now a considerable volume of underutilized office space.

So, the question is: “How do we track and monitor the utilization of our office space?

Maybe we should first establish what office space utilization actually is. It is basically a metric by which we can establish how efficiently that space is being used in terms of work productivity. The greater the level of utilization, the more efficiently the space is being utilized.

Two ways to calculate office space utilization

Utilization by Area

In this instance, the level of utilization is calculated based on the total occupied area of the office space and how much of it is being actually used.

% Utilization = (Total Net Usable Space / Actual Occupied Space) x 100

In other words, if you have an office space of 10,000 sq. ft. and 8,000 sq. ft. is occupied, the utilization is 80%.

It is important to note that Net Usable Space is not the same as the overall square footage of the office space in question. Office space is usually calculated based on the internal dimensions of the office’s extremities and it is on this square footage that you typically pay rent. However, this space includes a reception area, cloakrooms bathrooms, any kitchen/restroom areas, doorways, etc. Net usable space is that area within an office that can be used by staff for the purposes of work.

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to office space utilization is the actual layout of the office is not optimized to create the maximum utilizable net space. Why not take a look at how people use your current usable space and establish if all areas are being utilized to their maximum potential? Chances are they are not, and a total redesign of the office layout may well be required.

The result? Minimal dead space.


Utilization by Occupancy

In this instance we are looking at the number of hours the office space is utilized in relation to the maximum number of hours it could potentially be used for.

Utilization Rate= (Total Available Time  / Actual Occupied Time) × 100

You would do well to remember that when it comes to calculating the usability of flexible or hybrid working spaces, this is your most relevant metric.

For example, if a desk is bookable from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (a total of 10 hours) and is occupied by a user(s) from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (a total of 7 hours), then the utilization rate of the desk is 70%.

However, the utilization rate in this case can vary from day to day and can even be greater than 100%. So how is this possible? If you have a system where a desk is bookable between, say, 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (8 hours) but the premises where the desk is bookable are open 24/7, then in theory the maximum utilization rate could be 300% (8 hours bookable and 16 hours available in addition).

Conversely, if a desk is bookable for all 24 hours of the day and is occupied only from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (9 hours) then the utilization rate is 37.5%.


So, what are we trying to tell you? Don’t be fooled or misled by data. What you need to do is ensure that not only does the data provided present you with a realistically accurate idea of utilization rates, but you also need to guarantee the integrity of the data. Because a lot of occupancy rates are calculated based on manually collected data, there is plenty of room for human error.

So, what’s the solution here?


Digital tracking of office space utilization.

Here we are talking about a digital software suite that enables you to very accurately keep an eye on your office space, detailing all the bookings, arrivals, departures, and lengths of stay. Tools such as a desk booking system and a meeting room booking system can be used for such purpose.  In order to achieve this, you will subsequently need hardware to enable you to accurately capture all this new data, either in the form of a digital signage tablet, seat/occupancy sensors, etc.

Once you have all your data, then you can look to effectively reorganize/redesign your office workspace to maximize its potential utilization rate.

To conclude

The best business decisions are always made when the most accurate and up-to-date information is available. In addition, all successful businesses depend on optimizing any return on investment (ROI). Whether renting or buying office space, this is a major investment in your business, and you want to ensure you achieve the optimum utilization rate, especially now that today’s office space has become appreciably more adaptable to hybrid working policies.

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