The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes to the way universities operate and manage their physical spaces. With social distancing measures in place and remote learning becoming the norm, space utilisation strategies need attention. Additionally, with the shift to online learning, universities are also facing resource constraints as they try to adapt to a new way of delivering education.
Several opportunities, however, are emerging to address these challenges. With ever-improving data integration, cloud computing and reduced costs of sensor technology, universities can make data-informed decisions to optimise their campus space and create a more efficient and effective environment for students and staff.
To help universities adapt to the post-COVID world, we've identified three key strategies for better strategic space management: (1) Improve data on space occupancy, (2) improve coordination between stakeholders, and (3) refresh the space management plan.
Improve data on space occupancy - The first key strategy for better data-driven decision making around university campus space is to gather and analyse data on how space is currently being used. According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, universities can save an average of 15-20% on their real estate costs by optimising the use of their existing space. This can be done through the use of technology such as sensors, cameras, and WiFi analytics to track the movement and usage of different spaces on campus. By understanding how space is being used, universities can identify areas that are underutilised and make decisions on how to repurpose or optimise that space.
Improve coordination between stakeholders - The second key strategy is to engage with stakeholders (A) to understand perspectives and tendencies on the use of space, and (B) to introduce more centralised coordination of key facilities where unitilsation is either very high or very low. By taking into account the perspectives of those who are directly impacted by the use of space, universities can make more informed decisions that are aligned with the needs of the community. Further, empowering central timetabling teams with more agency to more schedule classes more equitably and efficiently across the campus will better ensure decisions are followed-up with action and community needs are satisfied.
Refresh the space management plan - The third key strategy is to use data and analytics to inform the development of a campus-wide space management plan. According to a study by the University of New South Wales, a data-driven approach to space management can lead to an increase in productivity, student satisfaction, and a reduction in costs. This plan should take into account the data on space usage, as well as the perspectives of stakeholders, to create a comprehensive strategy for optimising space across the campus. This plan should also consider the unique needs of the university, such as the need for social distancing, and adapt accordingly.
At AptoNow we're partnering with universities to strengthen the links between scheduling practice and space utilisation. We understand how difficult it is to construct a timetable that is student-centric, staff-friendly and space-efficient. But through our partnerships we're elevating outcomes well beyond the status quo.