Michael Grant-COO of Metrikus.
‘The last 18 months have been a rollercoaster for offices’ is a sentence I never thought I’d say, but here we are. This time last March, many businesses were creating action plans to manage possible covid infections among their staff and not long after, the death of the office was heralded. Remote working was here for good, but that didn’t last long – by all accounts, it seems that flexible or hybrid working is our new reality and businesses are carefully considering how to put these strategies into place.
If we’ve learned one thing from the COVID-19 pandemic it’s that there’s no one size fits all: you can’t just look at what HSBC is doing and try to shoehorn their strategy to fit your business. But one thing is for sure: investing in occupancy and capacity monitoring will absolutely save considerable money in the long run, as well as giving valuable insight into the utilisation of offices.
Companies need to look at their specific situations – what they need from their people and what their people need from them – to make informed decisions that will stand the test of time.
The three things businesses need to consider when deciding whether or not to cut down office size
- How are people using your space?
This is actually pretty hard for many businesses to answer right now as most don’t have accurate data on the utilisation of their space.
Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, a large corporate client of ours was using a manual head counting method to figure out how much more office space they needed. They estimated a 71% floor peak occupancy, and were prepared to contract a new lease worth over £500,000.
Metrikus came in and deployed real-time capacity monitoring within a week, and soon found that average utilisation was actually only 33%; even when we stress-loaded with additional employees, average utilisation still stayed around 44%. End result? A 98% ROI for our client.
So here’s what I would suggest for you: get those sensors in and be ready to start collecting that good data on how your space is being used. With GDPR-compliant sensors privacy needn’t be a concern at all. Once that data comes rolling in, you can look for patterns to help you make meaningful and informed decisions.
- What do people want moving forward?
Data is imperative. But you need quantitative and qualitative data. Ask your people what they want, not only from their ways of working but also from the space they’re in.
Another major client of ours did a global survey and 67% of their people said they want to go back into the office in some capacity. Those who said they wanted to go back 5 days a week said it’s because working from home is untenable for them, not because they simply love being in the office. Furthermore, the 33% of people who didn’t want to come back in at all had commutes of 2 hours or more a day.
Point being, whether people need to come back full-time or only want to come in two days a week, you need to factor this into your planning when thinking about cutting down.
- How can you make your space the best it can be?
Cutting down on office space doesn’t necessarily mean not renewing a lease on a floor or moving to a smaller building. It might also mean completely reconfiguring your space.
Many people are making it clear that they see offices as a collaborative space, where creative, energising meetings can take place in real life. Is your space ready for that?
While you’re at it, take a look at your indoor environment. It’s finally becoming increasingly accepted that good Indoor Air Quality is vital for workers’ health, cognitive function, and comfort. Monitoring and displaying parameters such as CO2, humidity, and PM2.5 can be a real solace to those worried about returning to work. In fact, in a recent survey commissioned by AirRated, 53% of people said they would consider not working for a company if they couldn’t prove the quality of their indoor air.