Corporate real estate leaders are under pressure. Real estate is the second-highest expense for most businesses—second only to payroll—and rising. Employee expectations are rising, too, with more people expecting flexibility in where, when, and how they work.
For management, there is increasing recognition that thoughtfully designed offices help to both attract and retain employees. Increased employee engagement, collaboration and productivity drive company performance.
Corporate leaders are overseeing complex real estate portfolios while balancing these competing needs—to manage real estate costs, to maximize employee happiness, and to meet the productivity needs of management. But without knowing how their real estate is being used now, it’s impossible to plan ahead.
That’s where the power of space utilization data comes in. Comfy’s Insights reporting platform empowers corporate real estate leaders with meaningful, actionable data about their portfolios.
We caught up with Marta Kazberuk, Director of Product Management at Comfy, to learn how better data leads to better real estate choices.
Marta, how can an analytics platform like Comfy Insights make corporate real estate leaders’ lives easier?
Corporate leaders rely on analytics like those in Comfy Insights for several things: to justify current real estate investments and proposed changes, and to identify areas for further improvements.
For example, a department head may request more desks for new hires, but the data says that the existing team spends most of their time on the road or working remotely.
This could be the start of a conversation about what the team really needs. Would a better option be a limited number of hot desks and lockers, but upgraded equipment? That way, the requested desks could be reallocated to a department that spends more time in the office.
Similarly, a frequent office complaint is that there are not enough conference rooms. Analytics can help corporate leaders determine if there are days of the week with peak traffic or certain conference rooms which are less popular.
Data can help leaders decide to create more collaboration areas near teams that hold frequent meetings, encourage teams to work from home on certain days, or investigate why certain rooms aren’t used—maybe the AV equipment isn’t working or the room is always freezing.
This kind of rich, actionable data paints a better picture of how a company works than anecdotal feedback or surveys. The better the data, the better decisions a leader can make.
Tell us more about the new space utilization reports you’re working on.
For the past six months, we’ve focused on space utilization reports for desks and conference rooms. We know that customers are interested in seeing usage patterns throughout their offices and throughout the day, as well as trends over time.
Our reporting allows them to see average and peak usage over specified time ranges, as well as utilization across the entire floor visualized on a heatmap.
"The better the data, the better decisions a leader can make."
Customers are also interested in segmenting their data to better understand how spaces are being used. For example, they may want to know how popular standing desks are compared to sitting desks, or compare the performance of different conference room sizes to see which ones are used the most.
Does the company need another large conference room, or would four smaller phone booths be a better use of that space? Should an existing room be furnished with a long conference table and a projector, or do employees prefer rooms with couches and whiteboards? The data can help them decide.
We recently added the ability for customers to assign desks to “groups” for reporting. Groups are defined by the customer, and can allow them to see the utilization of hot desks versus assigned desks, the levels of utilization by different departments, as well as the popularity of desks based on their location in the office. Our customers can use this data to make adjustments to their floor plans to better meet utilization targets. We’re adding the same level of reporting for conference rooms in the coming weeks.
As a Siemens business, Comfy is in a unique leadership position in this industry. How does that make Comfy’s space utilization analytics the best choice for enterprise business?
While Comfy is now part of Siemens, we continue to be agnostic when it comes to hardware and integration partners. Some customers may need a combination of different brands and types of sensors, so we help them choose based on their real estate objectives and data needs.
Also, Comfy Insights goes beyond space utilization and provides a complete “smart office” view. Depending on the customer’s needs, we will connect into their HVAC, their lighting, their maintenance request system, as well as other partner systems.
As part of a full platform, our clients also benefit from access to the Comfy app, which empowers employees to better navigate their office and interact with their space. This includes finding rooms and desks, booking workspaces, and accessing unique information like cafeteria menus or company announcements.
All of these interactions generate data that’s available within Insights, helping real estate leaders identify and diagnose issues much faster. For instance, they may notice that certain rooms are used less often, and cross-reference that with temperature requests and work request submissions to pinpoint a cause.
Today we apply machine learning to find more optimal temperature bands per room based on the requests submitted by employees. We envision a future where machine learning proactively surfaces other recommendations for our customers, like rearranging floor plans based on employee navigation patterns to decrease walking time—and increases workplace happiness.
Because Comfy collects so many cross-sections of workplace data, real estate leaders get a complete picture of how their real estate is being used—something they can’t get from the competition.
Thanks for sharing your perspectives with us, Marta!
Want to make more data-driven decisions with Insights? Schedule a demo today.