Before the pandemic, 40% of all office space around the globe sat empty (1). That equates to $150 billion dollars in unused space.
Now imagine what the figure could balloon to post-pandemic.
Employees don't use the office like they once did. Dedicated desks and 8-hour shifts are no longer the norm. This has workplace managers wondering if they need to shed space or completely rethink the purpose of their workplace.
There's no doubt this is a cataclysmic time in workplace management. And the most powerful way to manage this change is with data.
83% of corporate real estate executives rank space utilization as the key metric for making workplace decisions (2).
But the traditional ways of measuring space were not designed to handle the hybrid workplace. Workplace studies capture just a snapshot in time. Badge swipe data tells you how many people entered a building; it doesn't tell you how they used it.
Employees no longer clock in at 9 and sit at a desk all day. They use soft-seating; they schedule meetings; they work from home.
In the era of the flexible office, the longer you capture data the more accurate it will be. You'll see repeated behaviors over the long-term, vs. potentially isolated and unique events.
That's why a growing number of workplace teams use Density's real-time, continuous data to design better spaces.
"We rolled out our Density deployment across 2 million square feet, and it's the first time we've been able to measure and track the amount of people coming into our space and actually utilizing it against a set capacity of seats," says Peter Van Emburgh, Global Head of Corporate Real Estate for CBRE.
Better informed space decisions
Density captures data over the long-term, so you can make better long-term company-wide decisions on whether to renovate, relocate, or repurpose asset types.
For example, one of our Fortune 500 customers had recently converted a series of one-person office spaces into team spaces and allocated them to an emerging labs teams.
Even with this added space, the team said it needed more space. Our customer used Density's occupancy data to get an accurate, unbiased view of the issue and learn how they could solve it.
They noticed some spaces being primarily used as intended. The graphic below shows how one meeting room was used by 8+ people the majority of time:
But our customer noticed other spaces being severely underused. The graphic below shows how one meeting room space was used by just 1 person nearly half of the time.
Our customer's existing workspace floor plan wasn't working for them.
Based on the data gathered from Density, our customer carved out additional rooms using their existing space. They didn't have to move teams around or explore additional space. The office space everyone needed was there. It just hadn't been allocated properly.
Decrease energy waste
Knowing how, when, and where space is used can also increase energy efficiency. Office buildings waste approximately 30% of their total energy costs on inefficient climate and lighting systems that are poorly adjusted to the actual usage and occupancy of the building (3).
Density shows occupancy trends whether you manage one building or dozens across the globe — so you can make smarter, energy efficient decisions.
Streamline cleaning services
Many workplace managers are also using real-time occupancy data to streamline cleaning services, particularly in the post-COVID era. Why clean a space that's not been used for hours? That's what one of our customers asked. They used Density data to direct cleaning services to high-traffic areas and avoid wasting efforts on spaces that were left untouched.
Our customers estimate that they will save as much as 50% in cleaning fees from their previous model of deep cleaning all spaces regardless of use.
Adapting to return-to-office trends
Companies are using Density to also validate decisions during this return-to-office era.
No one knows for sure how employees will use their space. The pandemic shook the Etch A Sketch. Most workplace managers we've talked to acknowledge that the future is unknown. With that uncertainty comes an even greater need to turn to reliable data.
Twilio, for example, has plans to replace up to 30% of spaces once dedicated to desks into hackable scrum spaces. But first, they're testing this out in a select few offices.
"We're going to beta this in a few of the larger offices," says Devorah Rosner, Sr. Manager of Global Workplace Operations at Twilio, "to model it, to test it, to measure it, and to see how our spaces are actually being used, not how we think they're going to be used."
This approach allows Rosner and her team to test ideas on a smaller scale, before making more costly decisions that might not be optimized for Twilio's workforce.
Van Emburgh agrees.
"Until we have the real data to tell us and show us, at this point we can only make some informed assumptions," he says. "Then we'll have the data that really drives some hardcore decisions."
(1) CBRE. (2015). Space Utilisation — The Next Frontier. https://www.cbre.com/research-and-reports/apac-space-utilisation-the-next-frontier
(2) Gensler. What is the future of corporate real estate? https://www.gensler.com/research-insight/gensler-research-institute/innovation-to-support-cres-challenge
(3) Lone Rooftop. (2019). 3 Ways IoT & Occupancy Optimization are leveraged by Corporate Real Estate Managers today. https://www.lonerooftop.com/blog/3-ways-iot-occupancy-optimization-are-leveraged-by-corporate-real-estate-managers-today