The art and science of creating the optimal office experience – an FM guide

The art and science of creating the optimal office experience


Businesses across the world continue to urge employees to return to the office as they recognise the benefits of in-person collaboration, innovation and creativity for unlocking fulfilment and productivity. Not to mention the financial burden of unused or inefficient office spaces, with potentially 77p out of every £1 spent on property being wasted on unused office space.

With office attendance in Europe still only at 75% of pre-pandemic levels, our recent research with the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that 70% of business leaders plan to downsize their offices in the next two years.

Crucially, despite the widespread desire to optimise the workplace, it’s clear that many businesses are struggling to determine the best approach to meet employee expectations, measure success, and continually review and evolve their strategy as business requirements change.

Facilities management leaders now have access to a wealth of usage data, but this needs to be built into credible insights. The reality is that creating an optimal office space isn’t just about the physical spaces themselves; it’s also how these spaces meet the higher and evolving needs of the workforce now and in future.

Here’s how facilities leaders can master the art of optimising office spaces with the science of data-driven insights to deliver a positive workplace experience:

1. Leverage employee insights to refine your real estate

As a facilities leader, making decisions that support flexible working and ESG goals is important – but without understanding how your people work most effectively, your strategy won’t support them.

Gathering real-time insights on how your people use your workspaces is a good place to start. Integrated data-led solutions such as RICOH SPACES can equip you with the information you need, including space utilisation and employee behaviour.

By gathering these crucial insights, you’ll be able to fine-tune your office spaces, shape new policies and make decisions that benefit your people and business based on actual needs rather than assumptions.

2. Stay agile

A great workplace should be able to adapt to the evolving needs of its employees, whilst delivering a vibrant and consistent experience across all locations and touchpoints. The key to getting this right is providing employees and visitors with a view of your workplace and its resources, in real time.

It's crucial for employees to be empowered to make bookings in advance - desks, meeting rooms and car spaces, that will best support their needs for that particular day. For instance, whether it's connecting with certain people, being able to have a quiet working area or the need to collaborate in a large group. This visibility gives employees the power to plan their days for maximum productivity, engagement, and fulfilment.

Having this view means you can monitor data over time and adjust as needed for how your people are using the spaces.

3. Maximise the use of smart technology

Smart technology exists to enhance the employee experience and make it easily accessible. High quality video-conferencing solutions empower teams to collaborate from wherever suits them best and offer an equitable solution for those joining remotely.

Innovative technology also serves to level-up the benefits that the office brings. Take environmental factors as an example: both temperature and air composition can have a huge impact on concentration and comfort in the office. By harnessing innovative technology such as temperature sensors and air quality scanners, you can optimise these for your workforce.

For Facilities Management leaders who need to consider an optimal office layout and environment, smart technology is a vital tool for enhancing the workplace experience which in turn can boost talent acquisition and retention.

Creating a masterpiece

While Facilities Management leaders are ultimately responsible for real estate decisions, an optimised office space extends beyond any one department’s remit. Instead, the workplace experience should be a cross-departmental collaboration with senior level support and buy-in from the beginning.  

Employee-led insights and data should be shared across departments, including IT, Finance, and HR, to continually identify areas for improvement. By taking the science of data and marrying it with the art of well-designed spaces, you can create a truly exceptional workplace that will empower employees to do their best work, all while achieving your ESG goals. 

To learn more about optimising your office space, check out Ricoh’s latest workplace experience guide.

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Edward Hamiltion

Edward Hamilton

VP & General Manager, Communication Services at Ricoh Europe

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