In the realm of “Data-driven decisions,” organisations often grapple with workspace strategies. Post COVID-19 research offers crucial insights into workplace dynamics, aligning seamlessly with Redd Zebra’s recent space utilisation study across several commercial CBD office locations.
The PCA Office Occupancy figures for February 2023, show trends across the reported states with office occupancy rates as high as 80% in Adelaide and as low as 46% in Canberra, with an average occupancy of 64% across the six (6) CBD locations reported. This indicates the potential downsizing opportunities due to underutilised space. Redd Zebra’s project echoes these findings, providing real-world validation and reinforcing the significance of these trends in practical workspace scenarios.
These findings signal a shift beyond the hybrid model, marking a transition from the Return to Office (RTO) era to Liberated Working, shaping the next phase of workplace transformation.
Insights into Work Dynamics
Mixed-mode working is prevalent, with employees balancing collaborative team sessions and individual focus work. The installation of ‘quiet rooms’ is supposed to addresses challenges arising from open office setups, however Redd Zebra’s observations contradict these findings with ‘medium sized’ closed meeting spaces most utilised and breakout spaces and single focused open spaces not utilised at all!
Desk and Meeting Space Utilisation
Redd Zebra’s finding showed, very low occupancy Monday and Friday with ‘medium sized’ closed meeting spaces most utilised. Even on high occupancy days (Thursday in particular) up to 25% of desks remain empty and larger meeting spaces (10+) remained empty. This indicates that traditional desk planning ratios are obsolete and people favoring desks facing windows or in secluded spots over interpersonal configurations. Underutilised spaces across Redd Zebra’s entire study include large meeting spaces, breakout spaces and even lunchrooms, and from an IT perspective, desks utilised a minimum of two screens, sit to stand was used only 18% of the time, and most occupied desks were holding ‘online’ meetings rather than focused work.
The JLL Occupancy Benchmarking Report
The JLL article and report adds depth to the narrative, highlighting a significant drop in office utilization, with four in five companies experiencing rates below 50%, compared to one in five pre-pandemic. The challenge lies in understanding why employees are hesitant to return and crafting effective strategies for the hybrid era.
Know Your Customer
To bridge the gap between data and employee experience, the article suggests adopting a ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) approach in the real estate sector. Encouraging leaders to align, communicate clearly, and consider evolving metrics to extend the employee experience beyond the physical office. Leveraging data, including advancements in technology and neuroscience studies, can inform strategic decisions.
Tailoring Services for Diverse Employee Needs
While some companies opt for a fully remote model, others struggle to meet diverse employee needs. The article suggests differentiating between “residents” who regularly work from the office and “transients” who visit occasionally, tailoring services accordingly.
Crafting an Effective Workplace Strategy
Crafting an effective workplace strategy requires a collaborative, top-down, and bottom-up approach. Leaders should integrate purpose and values into the strategy, aligning it with business objectives. The fundamental lesson is that people should be at the core of the strategy, emphasizing the importance of the employee experience in achieving business goals.
These insights, supported by both the research, real-world validation from Redd Zebra’s project, and the findings of the JLL Occupancy Benchmarking Report, serve as valuable data points for organisations shaping their workspace strategies. As the workforce evolves, understanding and adapting to these trends are crucial for fostering a productive and efficient physical work environment.
Redd Zebra stands ready to be your partner in your transformative journey. Contact us today to learn more about our services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org