Corporate real estate decision-makers are planning for the hybrid workplace of the future, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. To find the right path forward, planners need benchmark data to compare their portfolios and strategies with how peers are using office space now and how they’re preparing for tomorrow.

We surveyed some major occupiers to develop a comprehensive picture of space planning and utilization trends worldwide—and found major shifts underway in occupancy management that will forever alter the workplace:

  • Occupiers are redesigning spaces to support new work models.
    63% are changing the way they’re designing space
    80% are redesigning collaborative spaces
  • Hybrid work is the new norm.
    71% have mobility programs that enable employees to work from anywhere
    80% are actively mobilizing or considering increasing the percentage of employees in activity-based seating
  • Utilization is the key benchmark.
    21% track vacancy, once the primary performance metric
    83% track or are planning to track utilization, which measures actual space usage
  • Technology is at the forefront.
    90%+ use technology to track floor plans and occupancy data on an ongoing basis
    86% integrate data from other parts of their business into their technology platforms

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What’s in the report

CBRE Global Occupancy Insights is based on a comprehensive survey of major clients, managing more than 350 million sq. ft. of space worldwide, and occupancy metrics and measurements from 12,000 buildings. The wide-ranging report includes:

  • Occupancy metrics, space standards, workplace programs and utilization data to help design workplaces and benchmark performance
  • Strategies to optimize portfolio performance, including how to incorporate coworking, meet the growing need for lab space and improve space allocation and chargebacks
  • Insights on ever-expanding technology options that measure portfolio performance and integrate space metrics with data from other business lines to deliver valuable, actionable insights

Executive Summary

Many office workers have embraced hybrid working, conducting most individual work at home while using the office to collaborate with colleagues.
As a result, many workplaces designed before COVID-19 are underutilized and inefficient. To remedy this, real estate decision-makers need precise data on how people are using space now to design efficient workplaces with the right mix of individual and collaborative options.
Clients want data from peers to compare and benchmark the performance of their portfolios.
Our survey of 42 top clients, managing 350 million sq. ft., or 32.5 million sq. m., of space worldwide, provides answers on what occupiers are doing now and what they’re planning for the future. The key takeaway: 63% of organizations surveyed are changing the way they design space to keep up with changing workplace needs. Moreover, over 80% are actively mobilizing or considering increasing the percentage of employees in activity-based seating, and 80% are redesigning collaborative spaces.
Organizations are shifting from metrics that tally space (seat count, vacancy rate) to those that measure actual space usage (utilization).
Eighty-three percent of those surveyed track or are planning to track utilization data, while only 21% have a target vacancy rate. To get the most accurate picture, planners are using badge-swipe data and seat and zone sensors to measure how space is utilized in real time.
Seven out of 10 respondents have mobility programs that enable employees to work from anywhere.
As a result, designers can plan spaces with fewer seats than employees, allocating more space for meeting areas and amenities, and real estate decision-makers can rightsize portfolios. This ultimately supports the two top real estate goals identified by respondents: optimizing portfolios (88%) and reducing costs (73%). Mobility also enables coworking, with 56% providing a coworking option in their portfolios.
With many employees using the office intermittently, organizations are looking for better ways to allocate the cost of occupancy back to the departments that use space.
Thanks to better utilization data, business leaders are beginning to shift from charging based on headcounts or assigned spaces to automated solutions that bill based on actual use.
Organizations are also combining utilization data with artificial intelligence and other technologies to power the office of the future.
Headcount forecasting will help companies better predict how much space they’ll need as their businesses grow. Employees will be scheduled into a space daily using just-in-time allocation based on their prior work patterns and assigned tasks to maximize efficiency. Sensors will track not only people but objects to better understand and plan what is in the workplace. Given its future potential, 51% now deploy sensor technologies across their entire portfolio, and 65% have ongoing badge utilization studies.

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