Occupancy data is shaping the future of workplace planning

JLL survey reveals latest work styles require new planning methods

December 13, 2018

CHICAGO, Dec. 13, 2018 – 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. This year, more than half of the organizations surveyed in JLL’s 2018 Occupancy Benchmarking Guide reported having a mobility program, up from 41 percent 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 percent 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 percent of respondents in JLL’s survey indicated that enclosed offices now constitute less than 5 percent of their sites—up from 35 percent 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.

“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,” said Susan Wasmund, Head of Occupancy Planning, Americas at JLL. “Today we spend more than 80 percent 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. 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.

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, like utilization tracking, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive technologies. These tools can provide real-time utilization insights to help leaders plan for the office of the future. A full 79 percent of survey respondents who track utilization use some form of technology, either alone or in combination with visual observations.

“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,” Wasmund said. “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.”

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of 88,000 as of September 30, 2018. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com