Herman Miller, Inc. has created a new method for measuring and analyzing the performance of working interiors with its Space Utilization Service, a patent-pending, wireless technology developed to accurately audit the needs of individual, group, and community spaces. The company will display the system at its National Design Center in Chicago during the NeoCon World's Trade Fair, June 9-11, 2008.
Real estate is the second largest area of expense for most businesses. And as space occupancy costs continue to increase, facility managers are seeking methods to lower these expenses through improved workplace productivity and overall real estate reductions. But reliable, actionable information has been notoriously difficult to gather.
"Companies traditionally have relied on manual audits, security badge data, PC keystrokes, or phone monitoring to determine workplace occupancy, which are often incomplete or unreliable methods" says Len Pilon, director of Workplace Strategy and Facilities at Herman Miller. "Our goals for the Space Utilization Service include working with facility managers to optimize their real estate through the design of spaces that are appropriate in scale, location, and accessibility. Ultimately we can help improve employee productivity and also establish a baseline for future studies."
Developed internally by Herman Miller, the Space Utilization Service data collection hardware includes remote sensors (or "motes") and receivers that fit seamlessly into the building environment. The motes temporarily and inconspicuously attach to chairs or the underside of work surfaces and continuously capture movement data, uploading to the receivers every 10 minutes, 24-hours a day. Receivers then forward movement data to a Herman Miller database. Herman Miller then works with its customers to interpret the information and develop cost effective strategies that may help them shed unnecessary real estate, better utilize space, lower operating costs, and reduce environmental impact.
The new technology and service is already a proven winner. In an early pilot application at Hewlett Packard, the service demonstrated a dramatic difference in the quality and reliability of data when compared with traditional manual surveys of occupancy. Chris Hood, Program Manager, The HP Workplace, noted that, "HP received compelling data that highlighted the inaccuracy of 'bed checks.' The Space Utilization Service replaced inaccurate management perceptions of office use with facts to drive informed decisions." At the Corporate Real Estate Executive Network (CoreNet) summit in May 2008, using the HP experience as an illustration of its efficacy, the Space Utilization Service received the Industry Excellence Award. The inaugural award highlights corporate real estate industry performance and innovation. It also qualifies the company for the distinguished H. Bruce Russell Global Innovator's Award, which will be announced at the CoreNet Global North American Fall Summit in November.
Kris Manos, Herman Miller's vice president of North American Office and Learning Environments, notes the Space Utilization Service is a result of the company's dedication to problem-solving design. "Herman Miller's commitment to creating best-in-class solutions for its customers begins with exploring their needs, which may include better utilization of real estate. The Space Utilization Service will enable our customers to create customized environments that benefit employees and the bottom line."
Space Utilization Service studies are led by the Herman Miller Workplace Services team and typically last three weeks. Study costs are comparable to traditional data collection methods and calculated according to the size and scope of a project.