Facility Management as practiced today is an oxymoron. True facility management requires accurate, and actual, utilization data. What are the top ten questions in Workplace Management?

By John H. Vivadelli, President & CEO, AgilQuest
Managing anything requires valid, reliable measurements of performance. Cisco Systems® is well known for its ability to use technology in the measurement and management of its business. This paper documents Cisco`s investigation of a new workplace model, new performance measurements, and the next-generation workplace management tools required to produce the data needed to support these measurements.

The nature of how Cisco® utilizes, manages, operates and maintains office space continues to evolve as the company moves from a predominantly static (assigned and stable) space utilization model to a much more collaborative, dynamic utilization model.

This evolution in the workplace model parallels a migration of the organization`s mindset toward its assets from one of "abundance" to one of "scarcity."

The Mindset of Abundance

The mindset of abundance says that the organization should provide enough assets for any possible peak usage load. The mindset of people in this mode is one of entitlement...the company owes the individual all the resources they request. Or, in other words, it is the right of the individual to secure more space than can be used at one time, in case it may be needed.

For example, a meeting must be held sometime next week, so the meeting room is scheduled for multiple days to "hold" it. The room is used when needed, and for the rest of the scheduled time it could remain empty. Another example is that traveling employees should have desks in multiple locations because there is no easy, fast means to access the productive space needed to get their jobs done. The perceived extra effort associated with acquiring workspaces in multiple facilities can turn into a "requirement" for multiple desks.

In the end, the mindset of abundance believes that there should be no issue or consequence associated with wasting space, because the real estate is there anyway, and real estate is a fixed cost. The investment required to obtain the real estate asset is not the concern of the individual because in their eyes facility costs, information technology costs, and payroll costs are unrelated and an inexhaustible supply exists for each.

The Mindset of Scarcity: The Future of Facility Management

Organizations with the mindset of scarcity treat every asset as expensive and valuable. These organizations enforce and reward one of management`s primary duties: to efficiently and effectively allocate the use of all assets, especially an asset as expensive as real estate.

Management and employees treat most occupancy costs as variable rather than fixed. The organization bases cost accounting on actual use rather than predetermined allocations that remain fixed during the budget cycle.

The cost of accommodating the average office worker typically runs between $10,000 and $15,000 per employee, per year in the United States. Internationally, more than $30,000 is not uncommon.

By measuring actual workspace asset use, the organization knows when use declines and divests of it as soon as possible. Management compensation programs use this utilization information to reward the efficient and effective use of this expensive asset.

The organization maintains a percentage of its real estate in short-term leases so that it can readily divest when needed.

Management trains its people to understand the concept of allocation of scarce resources and communicates to them the investments made in their three main expense categories: people, facility and technology. Nothing is free. Spending more on facility means less for technology and people. Organizations with a scarcity mindset constantly evaluate and decide the best mix of people, facility and technology assets required to produce the best ROI.

Cisco Systems "4th Converged Network"

Cisco made the investment in time, energy and capital to implement an integrated workplace strategy to investigate the true benefits of a mindset of workplace asset scarcity. Cisco recognized that the benefits of technology networks for people productivity and organizational effectiveness could be extended to its real estate assets. Cisco used the term 4th Converged Network, or 4CN, to describe this tightly integrated technology and real estate infrastructure of data, voice, video (convergence of three technology networks) and real estate (the new "network") deployed at 1 Penn Plaza in New York City.

The 4CN goals and objectives were to identify, understand, document, test, evaluate and share the benefits of integrating AgilQuest® Corporation`s "next-generation" workplace management software "OnBoard®" with a Cisco CallManager IP telephony system and converged wireless network products. Specifically, Cisco implemented 4CN to prove the hypothesis that this integrated workplace management solution provides:

  • Higher levels of employee satisfaction than other methods of managing a shared office environment
  • Greater operational control of the workplace
  • Increased flexibility and resiliency for business continuity
  • Better measurement and accounting of office space use
  • Detailed usage metrics
  • Better data for strategic workplace asset measurement and management than is provided by the tools and systems in use within Cisco today.
  • Ability to translate the new learning and capability into a business process solution that creates direct and immediate value to Cisco customers.

The project followed a central concept of AgilQuest's Workplace Management Methodology, the Asset Management Life Cycle, depicted at the bottom of this page.

The first step to the cycle is the most important: capturing accurate data about workplace asset use. This is accomplished by enforcing and capturing the daily choices workers make when selecting the workplace assets they need to perform their jobs. All subsequent steps in the process rely on doing this first step well. The AgilQuest Workplace Management system employs various functions to control availability and ensure that the data in the system accurately reflects reality.

With accurate data collected over time, Cisco performs the Measurement and Analysis step to understand its space use. It sends this data to its strategic Real Estate planning group, which uses it with personnel growth projections to support more accurate real estate investment and divestiture decisions.

It's About Balance

One major goal of the Cisco and AgilQuest investigation is to achieve a balance between employee needs and workplace resource constraints. The workforce drives Cisco revenue, and workplace management processes control infrastructure costs. Both must be balanced to achieve profitability.

The 4CN project uses the installed workplace management solution to assist the end user in getting the facility assets they need, whenever, wherever they need to work and at the same time deliver to Cisco management the functions they need to control their workplace costs. One important way to do this is to tie voice communications into the workplace management process.

Mobility, both personal and professional, is essential to working in the information age, but it can complicate communications. By integrating IP-based voice communications with a workplace management system, an employee can choose the workplace type and location they need and have their voice communications automatically connected to that location.

4th Converged Network Results

  • Satisfied employees view Cisco as a company that cares enough about personal productivity to make their shared workplace feel like their "own workplace"
  • Team members can instantly locate their coworkers in whatever facility they may be in, and enhance the collaborative Cisco culture
  • Mobile workers enhance their customer service because they receive calls in a timely manner and all calls are answered, no matter where the employee is located
  • Corporate Real Estate (CRE) managers can collect more accurate usage data because the delivery of voice telecommunications is tied to scheduling a workplace choice and checking-in to it

4CN helps Cisco managers adapt to changing workplace patterns by measuring utilization data to ensure that the proper quantity and type of workplace assets remain available, and at the same time provides them a valuable productivity service.

The Investigation Details: Answering Ten Tough Questions

The Workplace Management "Top Ten"

The Next-Generation workplace set out to answer some very tough questions about the benefits of a workplace management system to employees, management and to the organization, and how these compare with current workplace systems and practices.

1. What are the benefits of using OnBoard® software with Cisco AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data) hardware and software products compared to the Web-based CAFM (Computer-Aided Facilities Management) software tools used to operate and manage facilities today?

  • Increases user productivity: OnBoard makes it very easy for users to check availability, make, check in and check out of workspaces using Cisco`s VoIP handsets, a kiosk, or any computer browser.
  • Improves facility data accuracy: Cisco gets actual usage data from OnBoard that it cannot get from CAFM systems
  • Minimizes data administration: OnBoard has the capability of integrating with HR systems, streamlining the process of getting accurate personnel information into the system. Data is updated automatically through the day-to-day use of the system by employees, eliminating the need for facility personnel to perform these tasks. The same data that is obtained for shared office management and conference room management is available for strategic space analysis without the need to integrate or feed other systems.
  • The same system is used for shared space management, conference room management (rooms, equipment and catering), and performs some churn management functions (to be expanded) and can be used to support business continuity. No CAFM system can perform all these tasks.
  • OnBoard integrates with Cisco CallManager through the IPPI interface, making the combined product a facility management business process solution that Cisco can take to market. By having the users access a needed service through the space management system, vital real time usage statistics are gathered without requiring users to use anything other than the IP phone. No other web-based CAFM software tools provide this level of integration with the IP phone.

2. Does this new type of workplace management system offer improved functions for tracking the number and type of collaboration spaces reserved, duration of use, quantity, lead time, cost accounting and utilization (performance) metrics?

The system provides data to track all these metrics.

  • There are 228 collaborative spaces (Penn Plaza uses only one type of collaborative space, but the system will support many types)
  • OnBoard tracks the duration of use for each workspace, piece of equipment or service.
  • OnBoard tracks quantities of workspaces, pieces of equipment, types of workspaces and equipment, each item ordered for catering and its cost, and many other assets.
  • OnBoard allows each resource to have an associated cost, allows cost codes to be entered during a reservation process and links this information for accurate cost accounting and chargeback reporting.
  • OnBoard allows the user to find the availability and scheduling of workspaces in advance, including a customizable lead time for each workspace.

Here is an example of one of many types of reports that the system can produce.


Analyzing utilization and performance data for Monday, December 1, 2003, shows that of the 228 shared workspaces available for use on the 5th Floor of 1 Penn Plaza, 126 of them were reserved in advance, 117 were used (checked in) and 9 were cancelled automatically (bumped) by the system returning them to inventory for use by others. This means that 55 percent of the space was allocated and 51 percent of the space was used. For the week of December 3, 2003, there were on average 127 spaces, or 57 percent not used. At a conservative $10,0001 per workspace occupancy cost per desk, the potential annual cost avoidance is $1.3 million by operating one floor of office space with this integrated platform. *

3. Do the flexible assignment functions (advanced scheduling of user choices) of the OnBoard software offer end users measurable benefits in choosing the workspace type they need, ensure that space is available for them when they go to the office, and automatically switch their communications to that workspace?

  • The integrated system allows end users to choose the workspace type they need, ensures that the space is available for them when they go to the office and automatically switches their communications to that workspace.
  • The integrated system obviates the need for end users to carry a telephone handset to the desk they need for that day.
  • The integrated system allows teams to work together in their “neighborhood.” It also can give users priority for use of certain space as desired by management.
  • When the system is implemented across facilities in the Metro NY CallManager cluster, these benefits expand to movement of people between facilities—creating a true network of office space.

4. Does the added complexity of advanced scheduling of collaborative workspaces negate the perceived benefits?

  • No, there is little “complexity” involved with advanced scheduling because the system allows many different ways to perform this function. OnBoard allows people to schedule collaborative space from a public terminal in the office, from their own laptop over the Internet, or from the “IPPI®” (IP Phone Interface). These easy to use interfaces take the work out of advanced reservations and have the added benefit of allowing end users to demonstrate Cisco CallManager functions to their customers.
  • The benefits of OnBoard advance reservations include the following: The user quickly sees availability of resources, Users secure a workspace in advance, eliminating the need to search for an available space and eliminating the frustration of commuting into a facility and not finding a workspace that meets their needs, and the user’s phone extension is automatically routed to the appropriate workspace, eliminating the need to carry their phone additional keystrokes on the IP Phone.
  • The OnBoard/CallManager integrated platform provides a powerful example of Cisco’s capability of transforming a VoIP technology into an on demand, workplace management business process solution.

5. Does the OnBoard software offer tangible benefits in locating coworkers that might not otherwise be available through means such as direct telephone communication, instant messaging or e-mail?

  • Yes, the OnBoard system gives the users the additional value of seeing where a person is physically located. This is unavailable by telephone, IM or e-mail methods. People can use the OnBoard system to view a person’s location on a graphical floor plan. This facilitates collaboration, teamwork, and problem solving by allowing people to physically get together when needed.
  • The system also allows users to locate a particular workspace on a floor plan. This helps make them more productive, especially when visiting an unfamiliar facility.

6. What features and benefits are provided by the OnBoard software for advanced scheduling of collaborative workspace (such as conference rooms, training or demo rooms) that are not offered by Outlook/Exchange?

  • OnBoard allows management to not only schedule the workspaces but to control the use of space with many customizable functions such as allocations, business rules based on user, facility or resource, check-in and check-out, bump and auto bump, VoIP extension switching and many others. Outlook/Exchange gives management little effective control over other office assets such as equipment or services. Outlook/Exchange provides the mechanism to schedule assets in advance, but no way to measure utilization. This can result in rooms that are ?scheduled? for use but are not in use.
  • OnBoard maintains transactional history that gives management extensive information about a facility?s use because it enforces management rules. Usage measurements cannot be obtained because there are no reporting capabilities with Outlook/Exchange. Outlook/Exchange cannot give an employee the means to automatically switch their phone extension to the scheduled desk, or use the IP handset as a user interface, or locate other end users, or check-in and check-out, or reserve equipment and services, or calculate cost of services, or set business rules limiting number of reservations, duration of use, and lead time to reserve, and many other functions.
  • OnBoard gives Cisco greater operational control of the workplace, increased flexibility and resiliency for business continuity, better measurement and accounting of space use, detailed usage metrics, and accurate data for strategic workplace asset measurement and management. Outlook/Exchange does none of these functions.

7. When is the implementation of an OnBoard solution appropriate? What are the required minimums in terms of employee headcount, sharing ratios and number and type of collaboration spaces needed to justify the cost associated with deployment and maintenance of an OnBoard and Cisco AVVID solution set?

  • OnBoard can be implemented in offices of all sizes, if only to ensure that all workspaces are accounted for in one system. It gives workers value by ensuring they get the type of space they need to do their job. Few things are more frustrating and unproductive than commuting to a facility and not finding a place to work.
  • Industry-cost data metrics show that each workspace costs $10,000 per year to operate. This translates into $100,000 in occupancy savings over an average lease term. Even locations that have a small number of desks can show substantial savings over time. The incremental cost of adding the OnBoard system to another facility is insignificant compared to this value.
  • With an HR import, all Cisco workers could be in the system, allowing them to travel and obtain workspaces no matter where they go.
  • This Web-based application minimizes configuration management costs, especially when centralized call processing clusters, or CCPs, are fully deployed.

The analysis of data collected in the OnBoard system indicates potential savings in the range of $1 to $1.4 million annually on one floor in 1 Penn Plaza.

8. How does the use of OnBoard software save time, increase productivity, reduce cost and improve client satisfaction?

  • The analysis of the data collected in the OnBoard system indicates potential savings in the range of $1 to $1.4 million annually on one floor in 1 Penn Plaza by reducing the number of shared workspaces by 50 to 60 percent.
  • OnBoard and IPPI allow users to check availability, and check in and check out of workspaces and conference rooms by using a Cisco VoIP handset already in the room. There is no faster, easier way to get the resources employees need while measuring use.
  • Productivity is enhanced because people no longer have to physically search for available workspaces or try to locate coworkers. All facility information is available to end users.
  • Productivity for facility data administration is enhanced greatly because the system automatically updates facility occupancy statistics through daily use by employees.
  • The OnBoard and Cisco CallManager integrated platform gives Cisco a powerful on-demand tool to address workplace management business processes.
  • Automatic connectivity of phone extensions improves customer satisfaction, delivering their calls to the Cisco employee wherever they may be located.
  • OnBoard is designed to be self service, improving the productivity of the administrative and facility staff.

9. What specific business requirements are satisfied by using OnBoard workplace management software? List specific Internet capabilities that are available through the use of this approach to workplace management that are not available otherwise.

OnBoard satisfies the following business requirements:

  • OnBoard satisfies the following business requirements:
    • Shared office management
    • Conference room management
    • Move management (phone extension)
    • Business continuity
  • Automatic update of workspace usage data though daily use
  • Check availability, make reservation, check-in and check-out of workspaces
  • Locate teammate`s reservations on floorplan
  • Locate workspaces from floorplan


10. Does the OnBoard system provide the inventory of all workspaces in the same system that measures it`s actual use, eliminating the need for integration?

  • The OnBoard system can provide an inventory of all workspaces in the same system and measure their actual use.
  • Workplace measurements include actual workspace use by type of space, business unit, location, facility, or any other attribute Cisco finds important
  • Integration with CallManager creates a link between the telephony system and the workplace management system that delivers "on demand" workspace infrastructure (space and technology) to our end users wherever they need it. This integration helps to provide the actual utilization statistics.
  • Multi-language capability to service Cisco worldwid



The required mobility of the modern workforce enabled by advances in communications and computing technologies demands new facility management methods and processes. This investigation into an integrated data, voice, video and real estate network, called the 4th Converged Network, shows that proper implementation of these tools makes advances in next-generation workplace processes more efficient, effective and desirable.

The benefits of this one version of the next-generation workplace provide real value to end users, management and the organization as a whole.

People find and secure the assets they need when and where they need them without manual intervention. They locate coworkers more easily for enhanced collaboration. Selected workspaces, although technically shared, feel much like their "own desks".

Management can control shared workplaces and conference rooms more efficiently and effectively, using these infrastructure technologies to make them more productive.

The organization benefits in many ways:

  • Measurable workspace utilization to show millions of dollars in real estate cost savings opportunities and determine the proper configuration of office space types.
  • Integration of OnBoard with Cisco CallManager delivers "on demand" a workplace infrastructure solution that generates revenue.
  • Use of OnBoard, a single system that manages the following four worldwide business processes:
    • Shared office space management
    • Conference room management
    • Move management
    • Business continuity implementation


Return to White Papers