Availability is so important because it acts as a constraint on the choices open to someone when they are deciding on a work setting for an Activity. The ability for Space users to be able to choose an appropriate work setting for their activity is at the heart of many contemporary office design methodologies, and therefore any constraints on users’ freedom of choice are potentially very significant.
To express this process of choosing, we must define the concept of Space Demand:
The aggregate desire to occupy a Space in the absence of constraints.
Space Demand therefore expresses what the users would choose if they had a free, unconstrained choice that was not limited by Availability or the actions of other users.
However, the workplace is not unconstrained, and therefore we must consider:
Demand Satisfaction is the primary objective of an organization’s facilities manager, who is tasked with providing Space in which the organization’s activities can take place – i.e. ensuring high (or very high) Demand Satisfaction. Achieving this with a high level of Utilization is a secondary objective.
In practice, it is likely that many choices will be constrained. For example, selection of a conference room will likely be constrained by other existing reservations.
Constraints may arise from several sources, and Availability of the Space is just one. For example, when scheduling a meeting, the availability of the other people attending the meeting will also be a constraint, as may their working hours and time zone.
Due to such constraints, Space Demand may be satisfied, unsatisfied, or partially satisfied:
The Space Demand was satisfied because the desired Space (or an alternative Space that is identical to the desired Space in all significant ways) is available for the chosen Period.
PARTIALLY SATISFIED DEMAND
The desired Space was not available, but an alternative Space was selected at the same time for the same Activity. This alternative Space may or may not have had an adverse impact on the effectiveness of the Activity being undertaken.
No acceptable Space was found in which to conduct the Activity, with the implication that the Activity had to be abandoned, rescheduled or significantly adapted.
Partially Satisfied Demand occurs when an Activity is displaced. Some activities have precise space demands. but for many there could be a suitable alternative Space. It is possible for an Activity to be displaced in time as well as Space (i.e. by performing the Activity at a different time, either in the original desired Space or an alternative). However, activities that are displaced in time are considered as Unsatisfied Demand from our perspective of occupancy analytics.
Displacement must be carefully considered when analyzing Demand Satisfaction, because it can mask the real impact of certain policies. For example, in the world of crime prevention, one may think that installing window locks on homes would reduce crime. However, crime prevention experts suggest that a criminal will perform a crime if three conditions are met: (i) they are motivated to do so (have desire), (ii) belief that they can get away with the crime; and (iii) an opportunity to perform the crime. A window lock has no effect on (i), and is most likely to simply lead the criminal to find another house without locks – in other words to displace the crime – rather than reduce the crime.
Similarly, workplace policies designed to address some undesirable behaviour, may unintentionally lead to displacement rather than real reduction. For example, in a large corporation a reservation system was introduced that required check-in at the start of a meeting to confirm that the meeting was taking place. The intent was to reduce the number of meeting rooms that were booked but not used by gathering data on the main culprits in making these reservations and helping them understand the importance of avoiding this behaviour. However, in response to this, the main culprits – who tended to be senior managers with personal assistants – simply had their personal assistants going to each room they had reserved and checking-in, irrespective of whether or not the meeting was actually going to take place. This undermined the occupancy analytics and fed a culture of “undermining the system”, rather than the raised awareness and cooperative spirit that had been hoped for.
Partially Satisfied Demand and Unsatisfied Demand are interesting when analysing Occupancy because they provide insights into the degree of compromise that users are making in their Space selection, particularly in activity-based working styles.
They also provide insight not possible from Utilization alone. For example a Space that is 100% Utilized but with no Unsatisfied Demand could be considered maximally efficient; however, a Space with 100% utilization and significant Unsatisfied Demand is likely to be having a significant adverse effect on the people using the Space (possibly in reduced productivity, lower employee engagement, or reduced well-being).
Demand Satisfaction can be measured in two different ways:
Threshold Demand Satisfaction always describes the proportion of time that Space Demand is satisfied. However, it does not indicate the extent to which Space Demand was unsatisfied during the Period, nor can it be calculated using the three measures of Space; Area, Capacity/Census and Resource Count. To allow for these factors to be analysed, we define:
Demand Satisfaction cannot normally be determined by observation, as it relies on a measurement for total Space Demand which includes the Unsatisfied Demand – but Unsatisfied Demand does not take place in the Space and therefore cannot be observed. In some circumstances, Unsatisfied Demand might be indicated by queueing as a queue contains people whose Space Demand could not be satisfied at the time they desired. However, even in these circumstances, it is difficult to accurately measure the total demand.