Find out how tracking your occupancy data can lead to smarter decisions on future space needs, in this JLL report

by Brianna Crandall — January 4, 2019 — Technology and social changes have radically transformed workplaces for decades, but the rise in mobility, and the “liquid workforce,” has completely reimagined where and how we work, points out global professional and real estate services firm JLL. This year, more than half of the organizations surveyed in JLL’s 2018 Occupancy Benchmarking Guide reported having a mobility program, up from 41% in 2017. As organizations strive to deliver a future-focused workplace that inspires a more productive, mobile workforce, occupancy planning is undergoing its own transformation.

Today the average knowledge worker is at their desk only 40% of the time, according to the Gartner Group. Organizations are rapidly adjusting their workplaces to adapt to this new type of work. For example, 43% of respondents in JLL’s survey indicated that enclosed offices now constitute less than 5% of their sites — up from 35% of respondents in 2017. Detailed occupancy metrics like these from more than 100 real estate leaders across 69 organizations provide a glimpse into how people use space and help real estate experts make smarter decisions on space needs for today and tomorrow.

Susan Wasmund, head of Occupancy Planning, Americas at JLL, noted:

Workplace planning was easier when knowledge workers spent most of the day at their desks doing individual heads-down work and used a conference room for a meeting or two. Today we spend more than 80% of the time doing collaborative work, and more and more people are working from home, cafes, coworking spaces and even decked-out lounges within their own workplace because they want the autonomy to work from various different work settings. By tracking utilization, we uncover valuable insights that can trim excessive spending on large offices in favor of more collaborative space that appeals to next-gen employees who crave the “anytime, anywhere” work style.

Tracking occupancy metrics and the ability to benchmark those measures against other firms is the first step to a more optimized real estate portfolio, says JLL. Benchmarking is key to measure the operational and financial efficiency of a workplace, which can help examine its fitness for the future. This contributes directly to financial returns: case in point, companies that report metrics are twice as likely to report cost savings and avoidances, says the firm.

To better understand which spaces are actually being used and to deliver the work environments that keep employees happy and productive, workplace leaders are eagerly embracing new opportunities offered by innovative technology tools, such as utilization tracking, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive technologies, says JLL. These tools can provide real-time utilization insights to help leaders plan for the office of the future. A full 79% of survey respondents who track utilization use some form of technology, either alone or in combination with visual observations.

Wasmund continued:

Looking ahead, advances in workplace and occupancy planning technology will help ensure we build more adaptable and flexible spaces, as we know Millennials want to work where they work best and will actually make employment decisions based on their work environment. This workplace flexibility will then result in fewer underutilized spaces and a more productive, happy workforce. With better informed insights, organizations can ultimately improve the occupier experience, eliminate overcrowded or under-used space, reduce excess costs, and achieve a return on the workplace investment.

JLL’s 2018 Occupancy Benchmarking Guide is available from the firm’s website.