By Morten Brøgger, CEO at MapsPeople
Do you remember March 2020? Specifically, the day we said goodbye to our office plants and began setting up makeshift home offices? It was supposed to last two weeks before we would once again be back at our desks and, for all intents and purposes, back to business as usual. I was personally convinced it would be a productivity disaster, but I was wrong!
Today, almost three years later, most of us are still spending more time at our, now permanent, home offices than in the real office.
Many expected 2022 to be the year where employees would once again be back at their desks, filling up the empty office spaces. That did not happen. Despite a 257% increase in global occupancy throughout 2022, occupancy levels are still 58% less than they were pre-pandemic and they might be starting to level off.
Office space optimization: We will never reach 100% occupancy again
Space optimization is more important than ever and we will see an increased appetite to invest in smart office and indoor mapping technologies that can help corporate offices maximize their space utilization, saving millions while also reducing their carbon footprint.
In 2022 the average global peak occupancy rate was lower than 40%. In other words, more than 60% of office space was left unused during peak hours. If that is the case, just imagine the amount of space that was left unused outside peak hours.
Real estate has always been one of the most expensive costs for organizations, and the desire to optimize office space utilization is not a new phenomenon. However, the current energy crisis in Europe, global inflation, and the prospect of a global recession in 2023 make it crucial for businesses to optimize every inch of their spaces now. In other words, using new technologies to generate sustainable cost advantages.
Office space optimization empowers companies to significantly downsize, reducing costs, or scale their business in their existing spaces. In Q4 2022 the sublease vacancy in the US rose by 6.4 million s.f. to a record 136.6 million s.f, indicating that businesses are already trying to cut costs. However, subleasing only solves the problem temporarily whereas space optimization offers a long-term solution, but what if occupancy rates increase?
Occupancy rates will continue to increase in 2023, but the consistency in occupancy in peak hours throughout 2022 can be seen as an indication that rates are slowly starting to level off. In addition, the 2023 office will be intelligent, flexible, and able to quickly adjust to employee needs.
The 2023 office will be smarter and more intelligent than ever before
Making buildings - in this case offices - smarter and more intelligent than ever will be a key focus area for businesses in 2023 as it empowers them to reduce costs, create a worker-centric workplace, and protect the environment.
Smart buildings can, among other things, control light and HVAC settings to turn them on and off, or adjust to the number of people in a room and the amount of natural sunlight. This means that smart buildings only use energy for the lighting, heating, and ventilation that is needed, thus reducing energy waste.
According to The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), energy consumption in buildings can be reduced by as much as 30% to 80% using proven and commercially available technologies, such as smart building technology.
Smart building and smart office technologies will gain even more footing in 2023 because of the many benefits. Not only do these technologies enable businesses to optimize their spaces and reduce energy consumption, they also empower them to create a flexible and worker-centric workplace, where employees’ needs and preferences are key priorities.
For almost three turbulent years, we have been talking about hybrid working and the hybrid workplace. However, the majority of offices have not fully adopted this new way of working yet. I expect 2023 to be a year of consolidation, where organizations will focus on optimizing and automating their workplace to create an efficient and safe hybrid environment that fosters collaboration and a strong company culture.
If you want to know more about how to adapt your office to 2023 demands and expectations, reach out to us to discuss your business.