Traditional office spaces have always evolved to accommodate a business’ growth, new technology, and the turnover of staff. However, the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus transformed how offices operate. Staff worked solely from home during the multiple lockdowns, and two years later, most businesses are offering hybrid working, allowing staff to split their time between their homes and offices.

This is creating a new office culture where the space is being used for different purposes than before the pandemic. So, how are employees using office spaces in 2023? That’s the million-dollar question executives are asking.

Businesses are redesigning office spaces to support hybrid working and make offices sit for purpose in the most cost-effective way. To do this effectively they must collect data on space utilisation and employee behaviour in order to truly understand how spaces are being used, on which schedules, and in which quantity. Data is important here because if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Data driven office design will help businesses plan for the inconsistent occupancies and fluctuating space utilisation. Footfall, time spent, heatmaps, demographics, team breakdown, room and desk bookings will provide insights into employee needs and navigation. And with historic data, businesses will be able to predict demand for key spaces such as meeting rooms, desks, resource room etc. For example, data shows that utilisation for collaborative spaces has increased by 50% in 2021; and the average number of collaborative spaces per floor increased by 35% in the sale year. However, having more granular insights on who is using the space at which days and hours will allow the business to maximise the office potential. They can create spaces suitable for the staff using them, make sure the right resources are available, and even encourage other teams/departments to use the space during vacant hours

Furthermore, the insights will highlight the most and least used spaces, which will help determine the size of the office and resource required. For instance, if data shows that the marketing team spends the most time in the office, you can make sure they have the biggest space and the space is specifically designed for their use, with resources they require.

Businesses can reduce costs by making sure their offices are always occupied and used. If offices are often vacant, they can rent smaller spaces to cut costs.

Unfortunately, booking systems and surveys alone are not enough to understand occupancy and how employees navigate and use their office. You can only know true occupancy and usage by using real time analytics as booked rooms and desks are not always occupied.

Real estate represents the second largest expense for most businesses. Thus, not curating data-baked offices gravely affects a businesses’ bottom line.

Post pandemic office employees are enjoying this flexibility and are reluctant to return to the office full time.

From the employees’ perspective, hybrid working provides a better work life balance which is becoming increasingly important for the younger workforce in particular. Thus, it is here to stay and the office must serve them. It should provide frictionless access to technology, resources, and provide a space for collaboration and hosting clients.

A Steelcase report shows strong correlation between employees who are disengaged at their job and employees who feel they have little control over their physical workspace. Having control over their workspace made staff more engaged and productive, increasing staff retention over time.

Ultimately, data on how employees navigate the office and engage with the space will lead businesses to make their offices more engaging, efficient, and ultimately, productive. The changing landscape of the traditional office requires data insights to change effectively.

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