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How to Collect Better Space Data With Less Effort

Paul McKenzie, PE
A new, decentralized approach enables smaller teams to more easily collect better occupancy data to inform their portfolio management.

Real estate occupancy data supports highly strategic decisions about how much and which types of space to provide users in a specific location. The challenge is that this data can change hundreds of times a day in buildings all over the world.

Many organizations employ large space management teams that capture and feed dynamic occupancy data into their integrated workplace management system (IWMS). But a new, more streamlined approach enlists the help of end users in managing the space and allows for remote, on-demand reporting of this portfolio data.

All the remote work that took place over the past two years accelerated a trend that started before the pandemic of using fully off-site teams to collect portfolio data and support local occupancy needs. Depending on an organization’s level of mobility and volume of churn, managing this data can even be a part-time job. With the right systems and processes in place, HOK’s remote On-Site Space Management teams have been able to support a client’s 2-million-sq.-ft. global portfolio on a part-time basis.

How can an organization streamline its on-site space management team and transition to on-demand portfolio data management? There are two steps:

    • Embrace a team approach to collecting data. Instead of relying solely on their space management teams, organizations can allow end users to manage their own space. They can assign a local space administrator to decide how the space is used and configure mobility zones, assigned seating and open collaboration areas in ways that work for them—within the organization’s overall workplace strategy. End users can book their mobile spaces and the administrator can manage assigned seating. Because it is in their best interest to “control the space,” the end users likely will be happy to do this. In the process, they will generate accurate, on-demand space data.


  • Establish a culture of data integrity. Maintaining consistently accurate data about space use is imperative. Real estate teams and end users must recognize this and incorporate processes that generate accurate data. To do this, organizations will need to take steps like requiring everyone in a space to scan in (no “tailgating” at the door) and ensuring that all moves follow predetermined processes.

Organizations that successfully roll out these decentralized, on-demand space management systems can dramatically reduce time spent collecting information, planning moves and seeking data for making decisions. The data about users’ daily space use will automatically reside in their IWMS, and the reporting will be accurate and up-to-date.

As a result, an organization’s data management team can be much smaller, remote and focused on the value-added tasks the end users can’t do, such as updating CAD drawings, auditing data and assessing what it’s telling them.

For more information on on-demand portfolio data management, contact On-Site Space Management Managing Principal Paul McKenzie.

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