With NHS Trusts under pressure to manage expenditure whist also delivering improvements to clinical services, it has never been more important to consider how estates transformation can provide a positive financial contribution. Recently, the media has been increasingly focussing on under-utilised NHS estates and the relationship between acute, mental health and social services under the spotlight. Trusts need to use their estate to help achieve better value.

Ryhurst’s space utilisation team delivered over 40 independent space use projects covering over 100 buildings including both clinical and non-clinical areas.

Improved space use across the Trust has delivered:

  • £1.6m savings from optimising use
  • £1.2m savings from avoiding additional accommodation costs
  • 23% reduction in space use across the Trust 

Trust HQ, Sceptre Point

The space utilisation programme started with a pilot scheme for the Trust’s Headquarters, Sceptre Point in Preston, demonstrating executive support and commitment from the beginning. The first priority was to understand the working requirements for the staff, separating them into two user groups:

  1. Agile staff: working from multiple locations
  2. Achor staff: working from one fixed desk in a permanent location

This allowed Ryhurst to review the way staff worked and develop with the Trust an agile working policy underpinning a cultural change in how space was used, to increase efficiency and integrate the use of technology. This was supported by the installation of the ‘Occupeye’ system, a wireless workspace utilisation sensor system. The system allows monitoring of the Trust’s space use with data from transmitters placed under desks, on walls or using hook and loop pads. These records when compared with the Trust’s internal and diary based bookings reported a difference of 52% in actual space use.

The Trust’s recoded space used (bookings) averaged 91% a month, whereas the Occupeye data identified actual movement within a room or someone seated at a desk for an average of 39% in the same month.

A space utilisation data blueprint was developed delivering an asset performance review of over 100 buildings to capture:

  • Detailed accommodation layout and use surveys
  • Dialogue with key department representatives regarding agile working
  • Data validation and comparison with accepted space standards
  • Analysis of days / hours of operation
  • Analysis of the optimum work environment (as a questionnaire tailored to the location staff are working in)

Sceptre Point originally accommodated 192 anchor desks, although the majority of LCFT staff are agile employees who have the ability to work from any LCFT facility. On completion of the project, 76 work-stations were created. The majority of workstations at Sceptre Point are now allocated for agile working, enabling approximately 380 people to work from the Trust’s Headquarters based on a 7:10 ratio of desks to staff. 

Prior to Space Utilisation: 192 anchor work-stations

Post Space Utilisation: 268 agile working desks 

Dividing the total lease and maintenance costs of Sceptre Point between the additional desk space has provided the Trust with overhead savings of 40%

Agile working is intended to support staff in achieving new ways of working. Rather than being tied to one specific location, staff are encouraged to work flexibly to achieve better service provision, increase effectiveness whilst also improving the quality of work/life balance. 

Staff who are identified as 'Agile workers' are equipped to work anywhere at any time. Anchor workers are staff whose role requires them to be in a single fixed location. 

Daisyfield Mill

A Resource Centre occupied by LCFT Adult and Child Mental Health services, Daisyfield Mill was the first clinical building to undergo the Space Utilisation process. 

Daisyfield Mill is a former corn mill and Grade II listed building located on the banks of the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Blackburn. The building accommodates training facilities with 36 high quality offices over four floors. LCFT occupies the Ground and First Floors. 

The building was identified as the ideal location to accommodate 80 members of staff transferring to LCFT following the amalgamation of Primary Care Trusts through the Transferring Community Services (TCS) programme. 

The refurbishment work to accommodate the additional staff was undertaken in two phases:

Phase 1: First Floor: Increased the number of work stations by 56% from 109 desks to 171.

Phase 2: Ground Floor: Increased the number of work stations by 203% from 29 to 88 desks.

"What is immediately obvious is that the whole working environment has improved. It's bright, it's airy and it's clean now that the piles of paper and walls of filing boxes have gone". Joanne Marshall, Director of HR and Organisational Development.