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Tracking and limiting occupancy as employees return to work in 2021

December 4, 2020
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The Return to Office Playbook

Tracking and limiting occupancy as employees return to work in 2021

December 4, 2020
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Nearly 60% of employees expect to return to work by the end of Q1 2021 (according to data from CREtech). And 74% of facilities managed by CBRE Global Workplace Solutions are either already opened or expect to be by the end of 2020.

That's long before we expect the widespread distribution of a COVID vaccine. It's right around the corner.

As employees return to work, there's a renewed focus on occupancy tracking. Keeping occupancy limits down when most people work from home is manageable. But as building occupancy increases, workspaces can reach reduced COVID occupancy levels — quickly.

Are you prepared to manage an increased volume of employees while maintaining lower than normal occupancy limits?

Managing COVID-related concerns as office density increases

Occupancy management is tricky. Staggered scheduling can limit the volume of workers entering an office at any given time. But what about smaller, more enclosed spaces? For example, Tesla is reducing conference room attendance to 1/3 and shuttle occupancy to 50%. How do you ensure compliance for every space (and corner of your space) your employees interact with?

And that's just the early stages of this massive return to work. By the middle of 2021, most executives across the world expect all their employees to have access to the office. By the end of 2021, office occupancy levels could be back to pre-COVID numbers.

Companies need to know — in real time — when room's occupancy nears its reduced capacity limit. And they need to be able to adjust these limits to maximize space while guaranteeing they remain COVID compliant. Below is an example of how managers can use Density to set real-time alerts: 

How counting occupancy can ease employee anxiety

70% of executives are concerned that their employees will be reluctant to return to work.

This reluctance can be traced to employees' uncertainty about their safety. Social distancing guidelines and signage aren't enough. Employees want to know how many people are in their space, compared to how many should be.

Help employees know when a space is safe to enter.

You can overcome some of that anxiety through clear communication. Show employees the real-time occupancy of every space — and let them know when a space is nearing its limit. This shows employees and visitors when it's safe to enter. Below is an example of Density's Safe Display

Display real-time occupancy of any space for employees and visitors
Density Display showing real-time occupancy

Adapt to a flexible future by looking at occupancy traffic trend

While office occupancy levels will increase over time, flexible work will transform the look of workplaces. Before the pandemic, most offices featured dedicated seats. 70% of executives anticipate a post-COVID workplace to feature far more free and unassigned seating.

How will a flexible future redefine your space? Do you need to reduce your footprint? Create a network of locations to accommodate an increasingly mobile workforce? Redesign your space into meeting studios?

The answers to these questions depend on how your employees interact with your space post-pandemic. Working from home and avoiding crowded spaces are expected for the short-term. But will that sentiment persist long-term?

Occupancy data will reveal these answers. The metrics you gather will inform your future building plans and workspace designs.

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