Under-utilisation in the workplace: unravelling the complexities to uncover the savings.
The average organisation within the public sector – in fact, pretty much any large organisation you’d care to examine – rarely finds it easy to make the best use of their available building space. Even with a determined effort to be as efficient as possible, unnecessary wastage in training, educational, meeting and office space is fairly endemic.
At EventMAP, we see this on an almost weekly basis: close analysis shows evidence of similar patterns of widespread under-usage within new clients’ organisations. And this isn’t because they’re in any way negligent or incompetent – it’s simply because the level of complexity involved in properly unravelling all the factors that lead to under-utilisation is so severe.
But being able achieve that unravelling, and developing an understanding of how existing assets are utilised and how they can be freed up, clearly presents a huge strategic, and financial, advantage to any large organisation. Most obviously, optimally reorganising space presents opportunities to either lease out newly freed up space, or sell it off entirely. Alternatively, if an organisation is expanding or in the process of change, being able to ensure existing spaces are organised and utilised optimally has huge potential advantages in eliminating unnecessary capital expenditure.
So where does this complexity come from in eliminating under-utilisation? The main problem is that usage patterns of space and resource within large organisations are not straightforward and rarely allow for whole blocks of asset and/or time to be made available for other usage. Underutilisation is hidden within the overall usage structure in such a way that makes it difficult to ‘mine’ and organise in a way that benefits the organisation. The easiest way to visualise this is using the block game Jenga: blocks are distributed in space in a somewhat structured way, yet many gaps remain. However, this simple three dimensional visualisation suddenly gets much more complicated when you add the extra dimension of time. Meaning the game is not just one of resource allocation – scheduling has a major role to play in how the usage of assets are optimised.
So, as you can see, a simple question of ‘how can we make sure all our buildings are used as efficiently as possible?’ isn’t at all simple. Superficial changes can, of course, make fairly superficial improvements, but introducing significant optimisation is actually a mathematically complex process.
This is, of course, a big part of what EventMAP do. Procedurally, the optimisation process for a large organisation begins by exposing and understanding existing usage patterns, which gives us a clear picture of just how much wastage is present and the scope of the financial savings potentially available to a client. The tools we have at our disposal for this are utilisation surveys and activity analyses. Combining the resultant datasets from these allows us to create a visualisation of what and where the main issues are that are the root cause of suboptimal utilisation. Once this is apparent, the next stage is to use our software tools – which take into consideration known usage constraints – to develop models of potential reorganisations that will create the maximum number of ‘pockets of availability’.
When we finally present a client with utilisation surveys, activity analysis and models of potential reorganisation, they can then compare their current resource usage with the full scope of what’s possible in terms of efficiency savings and the financial benefit this will bring. And, for very large organisations, the benefits are very large.