Corporate real estate strategy changes depending on company needs. In this episode, your host Sabine Ehm and guest Rolf Sulen discuss how to manage large-scale CRE portfolios, and change the mindset of workspaces to create a valuable office space. 

 

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE

 

Meet the guest

Rolf Sulen is the corporate real estate advisor at Equinor. He is head of the workplace team, where he optimizes utilization and creates efficient workspaces for all international offices. Equinor began as an oil and gas company, and is now transitioning into renewables. One can only begin to imagine the CRE challenges that come with establishing new wind farms and worksites.

 

Equinor’s real estate portfolio spans 30 countries with 27,000 employees. Rolf and his team work to position the workplace environment as an asset to aid in company movement. The team is broken up into micro-teams, from project-based to artwork specialists. They have their hands full with how to configure spaces. 

 

Coming from a line of architects, Rolf says “real estate is in [his] blood”. After diverting from the family path to study business, he quickly returned, developing skills in CRE management. The following clips give insight into Rolf’s strategy for success. 

 

“Our company is not any different from any other large company when it comes to utilization of space. We have a turn up, at the office, in a range of 50-60% every day. But every time we go into a new business case, looking at new space, our space norm says that we should have so-and-so many square meters per full time employee.” – Rolf Sulen

 

 

Equinor is a large company with structures in place on how to best manage employees. Each time Rolf and his team look into creating a new location, they start by multiplying their ‘space norm’ of 20 square meters per person by the number of full time employees. From here, they have a better sense of how much area they require. 

 

We all know – it’s never that easy. With 50-60% occupancy rates, the team must consider different types of workplace configurations and occupancy metrics to fully optimize the space. Should they split the location? Implement activity-based areas? Consider desk-sharing? Each location’s answer will be different. In London, for instance, they host events with large groups of people. That location must be equipped to handle such events, but cannot be empty on a day-to-day basis. 

 

“If we’re going to have an office, it needs to be a strategic asset. It needs to add value. Which means that, I will say that I will go to the office because what I do will have a better outcome. What I do will have higher quality. ” – Rolf Sulen

 

 

For many in the western world, internet infrastructure is reliable enough that we can comfortably work remotely. That creates an industry of competitors to the traditional company workspaces. If companies want a high occupancy rate, they must ensure they are providing more valuable office space than the competitor, which is often home. Companies must view their office as “not just a building, but as a strategic asset.” 

 

Until now, most companies have seen their offices as just a place to “store” their employees. Corporate real estate has focused on having the space required, but then leaving it to employees to figure out how to best manage it. In this clip, Rolf suggests understanding the nuances of each work area and to add value accordingly. 

 

“That was one of the struggles that I had with the implementation of activity based working in the beginning as well. They were saying “I don’t want it, and now you want me to pay for it? What?” – Sabine Ehm

 

When building out an activity-based work environment, it’s often more expensive than the traditional setup. This is because “you typically provide more fancy things, [and] nicer collaboration areas” that are more expensive than standard desks. In this clip, Sabine and Rolf discuss the pushback that comes with trying new workplace solutions. In the end, you’ll never know the overall cost savings until you try. 

 

As Rolf puts it,“We’re always talking about flexibility. We’re always talking about space optimization. You know, all these buzzwords that we love in CRE. But when it comes to actually implementing it, and seeing how our colleagues fit in, that’s when the trouble starts.” 

Conclusion

 

The workplace is more than a holding pot for employees. Workers deserve a valuable office to support their needs. Rolf and his team manage thousands of workers, recognizing their individual spaces must be seen as strategic assets to company success. There are several ways to calculate the building out of a new location, and acknowledging each variable will prove beneficial in the long-run. Pushback is normal, but don’t let it stop you from creating something new.

Listen to this and other episodes of The Workplace Leader here.

There’s no question that the pandemic has changed how people work. In this episode, your host Sabine Ehm speaks with Jon Sheh on how working from home looks different for everyone, and how companies can adapt to change to help create an inclusive workplace experience.

 

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Meet the guest

Jon Sheh is the Director of workplace strategy at Johnson & Johnson. When Sabine and Jon met, she was immediately taken aback by his diverse background. Jon holds degrees in both engineering and business, and has worked in several fields, ranging from process engineering to apparel. He uses his broad background and pulls from range of experiences to form decisions in corporate real estate.

 

Although Johnson & Johnson is often perceived as a consumer product-based company, their largest sector is pharmaceuticals, followed by medical devices. With over 200 companies working at Johnson & Johnson, there is roughly 50 million square feet of workspaces, and nearly 1000 properties. Jon has his hands full with optimizing their portfolio, creating an inclusive workplace and configuring spaces for success. 

 

These clips give insight into how Jon perceives the future of CRE and how companies can leverage unique employee situations. 

 

“Talent has started to change their perception of what they want, and what they demand from companies. Not just at J&J – at many companies. And, companies are reacting to try to  maintain the best talent; to maintain the continuity of talent. Different businesses have different needs to do that.” – Jon Sheh

 

 

 

 

With people working from home, there has been a huge influx of knowledge-workers reevaluating their lifestyles and moving to less-populated areas. “The best talent is going to migrate to the places that most accommodate how they want to work and live their life, because the two are inextricably connected”. Jon speaks from experience, as he just moved from New Jersey to Colorado himself. 

 

The pandemic has loosened the definition of what a physical workspace must be. In turn, this has given employees room to make decisions for themselves. Not to mention, many employees have learned what 1-2 extra hours a day not spent sitting in traffic can do for their lives. How companies react to this new mindset will set the stage for where this migrated talent ends up, both physically and at which company. 

 

“I’ve been on the phone with coworkers, and they’ve had their child next to them doing school work, because that was the place that they had for that. Other options for those people are, I think, maybe the biggest opportunity for companies to turn on this flexibility in a way that is both financially efficient, flexible… and provides another mechanism for people to get creative thought.” – Jon Sheh

 

 

 

 

Employees that are further in their career tend to make more money, and therefore can live in larger spaces than their successors. While leadership works from home in their private at-home office, they must not overlook their employee’s WFH environments. Moreover, companies can learn how to leverage these employee situations when building out their CRE portfolio. 

 

Jon suggests companies can leverage 3rd party locations, office sharing, and coworking methods. We can also build more “near-the-bedroom” communities. These provide a flexible structure for those wanting collaboration spaces without the commute. These considerations will all play a role in helping create an inclusive workplace experience for employees in different locations.

 

“It’s really nice to have a network of people in different industries, because different industries need different things. There isn’t a universal solution to workplace strategy. It’s not even worth thinking about.” – Jon Sheh

 

 

 

 

Jon believes in keeping your eyes and ears open everywhere you go. “Restaurants, shopkeepers, stadiums; the ideas are everywhere for workplace.” Every company has its own needs, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Being dynamic in decision making can be the key to building an optimized, successful CRE portfolio. 

 

Jon uses airports as an example of strategic movement outside of the typical office-space. Over the past several years, airports across the globe have shifted restaurants into heavily-trafficked corridors as opposed to hiding them away in corners. We can only imagine how this has transformed companies. 

 

“Over the last 50 years there have been all of these big office complexes built. They’re oppressive and awful work environments, and the design is obsolete. I would love to solve for what to do with those assets that really create something amazing for the future.” – Jon Sheh

 

 

 

 

When asked what problem he’d love to solve, Jon immediately speaks to the big, clunky, dysfunctional workspaces built over the last several decades. With protecting the environment at the heart of his decision-making, he admits these spaces should not be torn down. Rather, we should rehabilitate them into modern offices. While their functionality is obsolete, the structures themselves have a lot of lifespan left, and therefore must evolve. “There’s a huge amount of money if someone can solve that problem.”

 

Conclusion

 

There’s a lot to think about as companies pivot towards new work environments. Jon stresses that one must understand and quantify the needs of every team and every employee when making decisions. As we move into a post-pandemic climate, we can assume that many employees will want to continue to work remotely, be-it from coworking spaces, 3rd party offices, or simply from home. The companies that best adapt to these changes and create an inclusive workplace for all employees will be able to hold on to the best talent on the market.

Interested in getting more insights from workplace leaders around the world? You can find all the episodes of TWL Podcast here.

Making a case for change in the workplace can be a tricky process. In this episode, your host Sabine Ehm dives deep into conversation with Liz Burow about how to build a business case to lead office transformation.

 

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE

 


Meet the guest

 

Liz Burow, former Director of Workplace Strategy at WeWork, specializes in building business cases for workplace transformation, conducting research, and facilitating processes on behalf of end users. She also tracks emerging trends to inform on new workplace products, not just designs.

 

With over 20 years of experience in architecture and design strategy, Liz has worked with fortune 100 companies as well as fast-growing startups, spanning tech, finance, media and creative sectors. She’s ‘done it all’. 

 

Liz focuses on the data, but doesn’t use it as her only method for decision-making. Her secret superpower is that she is a visual thinker; “if you’re thinking it, I’m likely drawing it”. People always try to refine ideas through words, but she’s an advocate for visual representations, with the belief that it’s easier to come together on a drawing than language. 


Listen to the following few clips to get a sense of how Liz’s approach creates a well-informed system of decision-making leading to success. 

 

  1. “Corporate real estate is pretty risk-averse, and wants a lot of data to back up any decision. Which, I completely understand. I’m all about evidence and data to inform decision-making. But there is, I think, a thing that happens where everyone settles on the middle, and the safe idea, or the incremental change, not the revolutionary change.” – Liz Burow

 

 

Making a decision for change in real estate can come at a high cost. This leads to corporate culture swaying towards making risk-averse decisions, backed by data. Taking a leap of faith towards a radical shift does not come naturally to the CRE community. 

 

“Yes, we have the data, but there’s a little bit of hypothesis in something that we can’t prove until we test it or we try it.” 

 

The industry trend is to look at what others are doing, and decide whether or not to follow suit. Bringing external innovative ideas to the table is a great approach. Unfortunately, it’s often met with watered-down responses or simply, ‘no’. The challenge is to pay attention to in-house pain points, and trust your gut in decision-making. 

 

  1. “You need to have data, but you need to be able to make sense of data as well, so it doesn’t help to create a heap [of it], because actually nobody is going to read through it. You have to find the right points to build that business case. The data itself is not enough.” – Sabine Ehm

 

 

At the end of the day, data is just that: data. Numbers and charts determining trends. But, what do these trends infer when brought together? Raw data requires interpretation to make sense of it. That’s where bringing in a professional consultant can be hugely beneficial. In this clip, Sabine speaks to a previous conversation with Liz on this very topic. 

 

Liz follows with the idea of story telling. We need data, but we love narratives. Bringing the two together to form an informed hypothesis can push decision makers to be excited to test new things. And, sometimes, it takes just doing it. Once it’s actually been done, then people can actually “see it and touch it and feel it”. 

 

  1. “I think a lot in terms of retail environments, you’re trying to pull people in, you’re trying to incentivize them to come in with the cool stuff you have. You’re not making people shop there every day. So we have to think the same way in work place.” – Liz Burow

 

 

The perception of the office has changed significantly, and companies need to focus on meeting the new needs of their employees. As we move back into the physical office space, ask yourself, what are the cool things we’re offering that draws our workforce in? Are they utilizing all the spaces and equipment we’ve provided? What could be missing? 

 

Having this mindset, as opposed to the “you have to show up 5 days” whether you like it or not, can be the tipping point in creating a sustainable, positive work-culture. To find this data, Liz suggests using a myriad of tools, ranging from sensors and booking platforms to HR systems such as surveys and social capital networks. 

 

  1. “It’s really good to try to position the culture into a growth mindset before you even introduce a change. The ways I think about doing that are: change should not be a surprise to you, you should be a part of the change that’s happening.” – Liz Burow 

 

 

Liz emphasizes the importance of co-creation with end-users. Get them involved as much as possible, so they feel a part of the decision making and more importantly, the outcome. “When you’re doing research, involve as many end-users as possible, communicate to them that they’re influential on new ideas and practices and then circle back with them”. 

 

Determining influencers in various departments can also be a great way to provide support to employees. Find champions amongst end-users that can funnel updates and resources to those curious and/or concerned. This can mitigate tension and allow for a dynamic culture. 

 

Conclusion

 

Change is good. Radical change is better. Liz is in favor of pushing the boundaries by using stories and creating a robust internal support system. Data is important, and an excellent tool for forming hypotheses. However, taking into account real, internal pain points, is just as important when determining movement. Yet, don’t forget, nothing works better than actually testing it. By testing your hypothesis, people will be able to come to real, justified conclusions on the success of the changes implemented to the workplace.

Earlier this year, Locatee commissioned a study to get the perspective of 50 executives on the changing state of corporate real estate in the United States. Locatee’s Thought Leadership and Research Manager, Sabine Ehm joined Industry Analyst, Dayann Charles, to take a deeper look at the results of the eye-opening study. Here are some of the webinar’s highlights!

 

WATCH THE FULL WEBINAR

 

The changing role of the CRE manager



The role of CRE has become far more prominent over the last year. Companies scrambled to predict how the role of the office would change in the midst of COVID-19. Meanwhile, employees in CRE roles had a thorough understanding of office usage prior to the pandemic. With their broad overview of company assets, employee roles and space usage  within the office over time, corporate real estate managers have rightfully been included in the conversations surrounding the future of the office. 

 

Unfortunately, even with the current state of corporate real estate, CRE managers rarely have the final say on big decisions. More than a year after the shift to work from home began, they still have to jump through many hoops to make their visions a reality. Not only do they have to get budgetary sign-off from people above them, they are likely to be dealing with colleagues that don’t have such a comprehensive picture on how the definition of “workplace” is evolving. 

 

Big goals, limited action

With a higher level of influence and new KPIs to focus on, you might expect huge changes in the workplace. Surprisingly, most CRE executives actually expect to see very little change in office set-ups over the coming years. 

 

Many respondents support an activity-based work environment. Generally, they don’t find the standard fixed-desk model to be conducive to employee satisfaction and believe it’s important to redesign their office portfolio. However, according to the responses, there will only be a 4% shift to a more flexible office environment. 

 

There’s a big disconnect between CRE ambitions and the actual actions by managers. Moving forward, it will be critical to find ways to turn these dreams into realities.

 

Band-aids instead of long-term solutions

 

Sabine and Dayann agree that some actions that companies take are more of a band-aid than a solution. Some examples, like infrared cameras, are more clearly a short-term answer to the problem at hand. Once things go back to normal,  these won’t be useful as they only serve the purpose of measuring temperatures. Additionally, they’ve already been subject to scrutiny due to privacy laws.  Other examples are less obvious. 

 

Desk booking is a common topic in the world of CRE these days. Sabine sees this as a tool that could actually worsen existing problems in the office. In many cases, requests for desk-booking are a result of inquiries from other departments that only have a surface-level understanding of the inner workings of office space utilization. 

 

If the goal is to ease employees back into the office and help them feel comfortable, companies may prefer to look at more straight-forward options like Space Booking. These work together with other tools to bring people back to work safely, while collecting the accurate information needed to make lasting changes.

 

Advocate for change

 

 

The results of the survey clearly show that more can be done by CRE managers to adapt their workplaces to the changes we’re seeing. Of course, this is something that’s easier said than done. 

 

As Sabine points out, the ultimate goal is to build a case that is convincing. 

 

The first step in making change happen is to have real evidence. By collecting data, you have indisputable facts as to why the changes you’re advocating for should be made. Be sure to include secondary-benefits that the company could see as a result of the changes you want to implement. Financial savings, building consolidations, or more productive employees could all be factors that influence a company’s decision. 

 

You may also find it useful to keep track of ongoing decisions. That way you have a guideline for which steps to take to instigate action.

 

Lastly, don’t be scared to involve more people. Support from other departments not only makes your evidence more convincing, it adds pressure on those making the final decision.

If you’re looking for more insights into the state of corporate real estate, you can watch the full webinar with Sabine and Dayann here. You can also find the original survey results by downloading our US study

Our mission at Locatee—enabling companies to create places where people love to work—led us to carefully rethink and redesign the look, feel, and functionality of Locatee’s analytics solution. The new Workplace Operations plan has a singular focus: to empower corporate real estate and facilities managers to make better decisions about office spaces at an operational level. Workplace Operations data helps you:

  • Master your understanding of your buildings’ utilization 
  • Prioritize and address space needs and employee requests
  • Contribute to your organization’s corporate strategy and growth plans
  • Create more effective office spaces and attractive locations to work

Read on to discover all the ways our Workplace Operations update improves portfolio placemaking, or book a demo with a member of the Locateam today.

 

Granular workplace occupancy data grouped by Floors

A major improvement in the new Workplace Operations update is the visualization of data by building floor. It’s not only cleaner, but much more intuitive. To start analyzing workplace data by floor, simply select a building from the dropdown menu and click on Floors in the sidebar. You’ll see a summary of your office utilization organized by floor level.

 


Similar to Locatee’s
portfolio-level dashboards, you can segment the data in this view using a variety of filters, allowing you to:

  • Understand office density levels by monitoring the absolute peak or average peak occupancy of any floor
  • Sort data by utilization metrics for easy identification of optimization opportunities
  • Focus on the usage of specific space types with the Space type filter

Tip: For quick and easy stakeholder reporting and presentations, export data directly from the Floors view to Excel.

Detailed views provide a closer look at every floor in your building

Want to investigate utilization on one particular floor? Details will take you to that floor’s dedicated view, which includes its own utilization summary, interactive heat map, and timeline.

  • On the top of every detailed floor view is the Utilization overview widget, where you’ll see a summary of vital data points concerning the floor such as:
    • Average utilization
    • Peak utilization
    • number of free workspaces available during peak times (Free at peak)
    • comparison with average and peak utilizations of the previous period
  • A Floor map shows the frequently occupied and frequently neglected spaces on the floor, making it easier to pinpoint problem areas, whether it’s overcrowding or underuse.

 

Person looking at Locatee heat map

 

  • Also in the Floor map widget is a selector that enables you to zoom in on the utilization of a certain space type (such as desks) or a particular section of a floor (such as the west wing).
  • A Timeline is now available for every floor, facilitating the identification of usage patterns and trends on a floor-level basis.

Tip: The new Workplace Operations introduces the option to switch effortlessly between Average Peak and Absolute Peak calculations, making it easier to include or omit data outliers when analyzing office usage and performance.

 

Measure exactly what you need with Spaces

In addition to the Floors view, we’re introducing Spaces. The Spaces view provides a detailed look into a particular segment of your workforce or your physical office space. These segments can be:

  • Business units: R&D, IT, marketing, procurement
  • Floor sections: meeting areas, Section B, quiet zones, east wing
  • Workplace types: desks, meeting rooms, phone booths, standing desks

Spaces give you the flexibility to filter and analyze data using your own custom segmentations, meaning you can measure exactly what you want to measure—nothing more, nothing less.

 

New Workplace Operations - Workplace Occupancy Data

 

Dive into the Details for a deeper analysis

Just like Floors, each Space in your building comes with its own detailed view. Here you’ll see a utilization summary, timeline, and floor map of that space.

Tip: You can use Spaces to facilitate workplace decisions such as determining where to place a new department or team. This video shows you how to do just that.

 

It’s all about 3D: Data, Design, and Decisions

At Locatee, we’re not just in the business of providing you with office occupancy data. We know that there is a lot of information out there already. Our aim is to help you harness all that information, so you can:

  • Measure what you really want by creating custom segmentations
  • Arrive at decisions with more confidence using historical and live data
  • Set the correct expectations and easily update key stakeholders with interactive data and exportable reports
  • Create better workplaces for your workforce with the help of the most detailed and granular data

 

Want to learn more about how to use Locatee Workplace Operations to create better offices? Schedule a demo today!

In our webinar, The CRE Journey to the Digital Workplace Experience, Sabine Ehm is joined by industry experts Philip Ross, Simon Pascoe and Mark Needham, to discuss the future of the workplace. The panel explores how global businesses have addressed employees working remotely, and how performance measures will look post-pandemic. Tune in to find out how each panelist perceives recent movements, their future predictions and what they’re doing to adapt their CRE strategy. 

Listen below for 3 thought-provoking clips from the webinar or watch the entire webinar:

 

WATCH THE FULL WEBINAR

 

 

“It’s important to have more long-term measures in place … and not to expect answers straight away.”

 

 

The workplace has changed considerably since the pandemic, and as Sabine Ehm, Thought-Leadership and Research Manager at Locatee, points out, we can expect a spike in employee attendance once it’s safe to return to the office. Although, it is imperative for corporate real estate professionals to understand that this is not necessarily a long-term reality. In this clip, Sabine alludes to the importance of conducting long-term measurements such as space utilization and assignment, and to wait and see how it all pans out before abruptly changing the CRE strategy. 

 

People are now used to working from home and having flexibility. Once the excitement of being in-office subsides, some staff members may choose to continue working remotely. To help manage the sudden increase of people back on-premises, companies will want to look at tools that can help them understand who wants to come to work, as well as see how the space is really being used. 

 

 “It’s invaluable when you’re planning large real estate portfolios and trying to get a better return on your investment.” 

 

 

Technology is evolving faster than we can keep track. There are always new ways for companies to problem-solve, but implementing different systems requires trust. In this clip, Mark Needham, Business Development Manager at Cisco, talks about artificial intelligence being used to measure office utilization and how employees are using allocated spaces. Other kinds of technology are also being used to gather data, such as various types of sensors. These devices can provide crucial information to CRE managers. However, many still do not fully trust them and are concerned about potential privacy implications. Mark suggests that initially “we will see a spread of maturity” in the perception of AI until it eventually becomes the norm. 

 

“You can tell from the gray hair, I’ve been around long enough to have been through a couple of cycles, and I never let a good crisis go unused.”

 

 

 

Companies often overlook CRE strategy when quantifying success. When the pandemic hit, that changed, dramatically. With close collaboration between business leaders and real estate managers, companies quickly evolved to address the needs of employees. We’ve seen similar movements as a result of previous crises, such as the 2008 financial crash. In this clip, Simon Pascoe, EMEA Head of Real Estate at Novartis, speaks to how he takes advantage of this momentum to make lasting improvements. He points out how pivotal this particular shift has been; it has awakened the importance of real estate strategy and its potential for monetary returns. 

 

 

In crisis, we adapt, quickly. Since the start of the pandemic, companies have been rapidly changing the way they conduct business. Fortunately, the leaders at the top have recognized the significance of real estate planning. It will be important to continue this collaboration once employees return to the office. CRE managers will have to continue gathering reliable data to make favorable decisions in coming years. It will be tempting, but they should avoid making rushed decisions if they see spikes or drops in early attendance. 

 

Watch the full webinar to hear more insights from Sabine, Phillip, Simon, and Mark as they analyze the current CRE climate and how the future will look.

In March 2020, we published our initial blog post on how offices around the world were dealing with COVID-19.  At the time, we only had data for the first three months of 2020, and in hindsight, our prognosis—much like that of the rest of the world’s—was optimistic.

One year later, we’re taking a fresh look at office occupancy in workplaces around the world. We aggregated workplace data across 24 cities in 15 countries by calculating the average weekly peak utilization. Here’s a look at office occupancy and utilization in the past year.

Weekly peak office utilization in Asia

Weekly Peak Office Utilization in Asia

Of all the countries in Asia we’ve gathered data on, China bounced back the swiftest—into the office at least. Since seeing occupancy drop to nearly 0% in the last week of January 2020, the return to the office has been slow but steady. Already in June of last year, average office occupancy was already over 40%. Most recently, we’ve seen a drop in the number of people in the office, but this can also be partly attributed to the Lunar New Year period, where many employees return to their hometowns to spend the holiday season.

Both Singapore and South Korea have been commended early on for their handling of the pandemic, but the two countries have taken very different approaches. Singapore enacted a stringent set of “circuit breaker” measurements aimed at keeping its denizens home, while South Korea embraced extensive testing and avoided enacting nationwide lockdowns. The office occupancy data, as such, reflect the epidemic control programs of the two countries, with Singapore clearly demonstrating a slow and phased return to work and Seoul seeing volatile fluctuations in office occupancy across 2020. 

Although India has recently claimed that it might be the first major economy to successfully implement a herd immunity strategy, we’re yet to see a significant rise in office occupancy. Since the government announced a complete lockdown in late-March of 2020, corporate offices have seen very little usage.

Weekly peak office utilization in Europe

As of March 2021, corporate offices across Europe remain low. In fact, if we had only been analyzing data from the past two weeks, it would probably have seemed that things had hardly changed. However, taking into account data from the entire span of the previous 12 months, we can see the efforts of CRE in trying to bring their workforce back into the office responsibly. 

In Germany and Switzerland, the effect of the second COVID-19 in autumn is clearly seen. The average office occupancy of both countries had crossed the halfway mark in the “return to normal” before the second wave and new strains of the virus forced both countries to take a step back again. Since then, utilization remains low, with employees mandated to work from home.

Italy and Spain show similar peak occupancy patterns. Lockdowns were imposed in both countries mid-March and restrictions were gradually lifted during summer, although dips in office occupancy are visible whenever a resurgence occurred, such as in October of 2020. 

The UK had the lowest average office occupancy in 2020 out of all countries in Europe. Following a stay-at-home order issued in March, office utilization has never peaked past 10%. New lockdown measures brought into effect in November, combined with the discovery of a new virus variant, has kept buildings with no indications of changing soon.

Weekly peak office utilization in Africa, Americas, and Australia

As for the rest of the world, offices remain for the most part empty, with Australia being the notable exception. Due to its geographical distance and isolation, Australia was able to effectively close its borders and carry out successful containment and quarantining measures. As a result, buildings in Australia are much busier compared to the rest of the world.

The American countries—US, Mexico, and Brazil—share an almost identical utilization pattern. Since March 2020, offices have more or less remained closed. Although more traditional sectors such as banking are calling for a return to the physical office, younger and more disruptive institutions have begun introducing permanent remote working setups for staff. It’s safe to say that some companies will never see the same utilization peaks and patterns they were used to prior to the pandemic. 

The government of South Africa also announced a national lockdown at the end of March 2020, with a gradual and phased easing of restrictions beginning in May. Office occupancy during the pandemic peaked in the beginning of October, when restrictions were at their lowest. Since then, the country’s second wave of infections has forced the country to tighten restrictions again, forcing staff out of the office once more.

So, what can we expect?

Whereas office occupancy data is used to extract insight from occupant behavior, in this case, we’re taking a retrospective look at offices responding to an external force. So while the data probably won’t be able to indicate exactly what’s to come, it does illustrate the different strategies CRE has taken in an attempt to keep operations running as smoothly as possible.

With the constant uncertainty and need to adapt quick, companies could find booking tools useful in managing the number of people coming into the office on a daily basis. In combination with utilization data, corporations will find it helpful to have both a way to assess occupancy overtime, while also having the means to manage the influx of employees when working from home is no longer required.


* Locatee gathered anonymized workplace occupancy data from a sampling of workplaces across 24 cities in 15 countries. The information and interpretations presented in this article should not be taken as definitive representations of workplace occupancy patterns for entire countries. 

For more on making day-to-day workplace decisions, check out The Workplace Leader podcast, available on your favorite podcast platform.

Watch the replay now!

About the event

Gain insight into 2021 survey results on the evolving workspace and the role of CRE managers in the coming years!

Together with Verdantix, Locatee conducted interviews among 50 executives in real estate, workplace, and facilities management roles in the US.

Our Thought Leadership and Research Manager Sabine Ehm is joined by Dayann Charles, Industry Analyst at Verdantix to present the study findings.

Find out about:

  • evolution of the CRE manager’s role in the US in the future
  • increased influence of CREMs in their budget responsibilities
  • business priorities today and in the coming years
  • investment plans in digital tools and data collection

Speakers

Sabine Ehm – Thought Leader, Locatee

Dayan Charles – Industry Analyst, Verdantix

When

Whenever works for you! Watch the replay of the webinar by registering below.

Registration


 

Prefer to read the complete survey results?

Download the PDF



Introducing The Workplace Leader Podcast! Join your host, Sabine Ehm, as she takes you behind the scenes of corporate real estate, finding how industry experts are shaping the next generation workplace. 

Using investigations of business drivers, performance metrics, and workplace trends, Sabine and her guests will guide you through making the most important decisions in corporate real estate. 

 

Meet the host of The Workplace Leader podcast

Sabine Ehm is the Thought Leadership & Research Manager of Locatee, based in Zurich, Switzerland. With over 10 years of experience in corporate real estate, she is highly knowledgeable in portfolio management, leasing, dispositions, and operations. 

Throughout her career, Sabine has worked closely with multinational companies, responsible for both local and regional portfolios. As a former CREM, she pulls from her own experiences to give advice on achieving success in the industry. By providing insight into modern corporate workplace strategy development, Sabine and her invited guests, will give you the tools needed to be successful in the present-day workplace environment. 

 

This month on the podcast, Sabine interviews three esteemed guests, Liz Burow, Jon Sheh, and Peter Baumann. Each episode provides information and insight into creating sustainable, modern, and functional workplaces for the companies of today. 

Listen to the newest episodes of The Workplace Leader

Building a business case for change with Liz Burow

Liz Burow is a professional Workplace Design and Research Consultant. As the former Director of Workplace Strategy at WeWork, she knows exactly what it takes to create a successful workplace environment. Join Liz and Sabine as they discuss changing the narrative around workplace design, and how to create spaces that cater to the many facets of a business. 

 

Engineering inclusive workplace experience with Jon Sheh 

As Director of Workplace Strategy at Johnson & Johnson, Jon Sheh is highly knowledgeable in what creates a lucrative, modern workplace. During this episode, Jon and Sabine discuss how companies must adapt with the times. They’ll also dive into creating new and flexible workplace strategies to better support their employees. 

 

Merging business, people and location strategy with Peter Baumann 

Peter Baumann is the Global Head of Real Estate & Facilities Project at SAP. Peter and Sabine are examining the shift of perception towards a more human-centered workplace. In addition, they’ll teach you how to draw data to prove your findings.

 

Subscribe to The Workplace Leader Podcast

Listen to The Workplace Leader podcast now to learn invaluable information on corporate real estate management. Whether it’s workplace transformation, designing for culture shifts, or catering to modern times, Sabine and her guests will give you the tools required to be a successful real estate manager, for small and large businesses.

About

Corporate Real Estate needs to develop new performance measures for office spaces. Looking only at density or cost per square meter is not enough to understand and determine today’s workplace needs.

In this joint webinar together with Cognitive Corp. we dived deeper into the topic of the future workplace and discussed topics such as:

  • The workplace of tomorrow
  • Workplace Leaders roles and how to enable future workplaces
  • Success factors for Corporate Real Estate Managers
  • Tools workplace leaders should familiarize themselves with

The webinar took place on the 9. December 2020, 5.00-6.00pm (CET) during which we answered your questions online. Watch the recorded video below!

 

Speakers

Sabine Ehm – Thought Leader, Locatee

James Waddell – Executive Vice President, Cognitive Services

 

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