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Optimizing Hybrid Work Strategies with Smart Space Planning


  • The Return-to-Office trend seems to have stalled. Many companies are landing on a hybrid work strategy with an average of 2.5 days in a corporate space.
  • Nearly 60% of companies are settled into Hybrid Work Schedules. Despite some companies demanding employees return to offices full time, many 2023 industry reports say the trend has slowed.
  • Unused office space is holding steady at 50%. It was only a few months ago office space utilization was climbing.
  • A Lambent Survey of 255 Space Planners revealed that 95% of Space Planners don’t have the data they need, and 86% are struggling with making decisions around smart space planning.

Just a few months after the wave of headlines touting 50% city-office occupancy rates – for the first time in 3 years. But that upward trend may have skidded to a stop. In fact, there’s some data to suggest there was a peak, and a retreat.

The Return to the Office Has Stalledaccording to one Wall Street Journal Real Estate Trends piece in May. The average return-to-office requirement is 2.5 days, and 58% of companies are allowing for hybrid work schedules. That trend is led by high-tech companies. In the financial and professional services sphere, it’s much more likely employees will be in their offices more than half the week, according to the Spring 2023 U.S. Office Occupier Sentiment Survey published by CBRE.

That leaves business leaders with hard real estate decisions. The pressure is on for more flexible, collaborative spaces with increased employee amenities. For many companies, smart space planning is more complicated than ever. Eighty-six percent of corporate space planners in a Lambent Survey reported struggling with return-to-office planning. A whopping 95% of space planners said they don’t have the right data to move forward.

Optimize Hybrid Work Strategies, Save and Plan

According to a Lambent survey of 255 decision makers, 85% of space planners need help handling their organization’s day-to-day seating and office space problems. And 80% are tasked with resolving disputes over space issues.

Badge data can be used to help understand utilization, but using badge systems comes with several flaws that don’t help with strategic decisions. For starters, there’s no simple way to compare spaces – meeting rooms, cafeterias, departments, with each other. Other data sources like room reservation systems can be helpful, but they don’t help account for reservations vs. attendance – who actually showed up.

Occupancy analytics are needed for corporate leaders to make decisions for the new, dynamic workplace. This type of AI-powered software can help space planners:

  • Optimize hybrid work spaces relying on actual utilization data.
  • Save operations and staffing costs associated with underused spaces.
  • Allocate workspaces with more accuracy to avoid workplace conflicts.
  • Reduce the time and manual labor associated with occupancy data analysis.

Data Leads To Decisive Real Estate Action

Occupancy analytics surface a holistic view of your portfolio and delivers intelligent recommendations. Space planners can quickly see data from multiple sources and then share critical insights, letting them share utilization rates across buildings, floors, and departments.

This type of unbiased data can change how companies optimize their office layouts for ROI. It can be used to validate new design strategies for existing space, optimize space design, and measure pilots and test cases for future activity. The insights revealed can also be used to reallocate the operating budget toward high-impact use cases and find new revenue streams by commoditizing high-traffic spaces. It can also help reduce operational expenses such as staffing and cleaning. For smart space planning, occupancy analytics is quickly replacing badge data, and is often far less costly than installing ceiling sensors.

Less Bias Leads To Better Space Planning Decisions

Not all data is good data. To lead with confidence, CRE leaders need to be able to easily see, surface and share unbiased data that avoids:

  • Selection bias: Choosing a sample that doesn’t represent the wider population.
  • Loss aversion bias: Avoiding data outcomes that point to losses rather than gains.
  • Framing bias: Presenting data to highlight the positives and downplay negatives.
  • Anchoring bias: Letting preexisting data influence decisions about new data.

Space planning tools that rely on manual inputs can result in bias in captured data or in actions derived from it. For example, space planners might reject data that puts their assumptions into question or doesn’t align with their perceived ideas about space planning needs.

Lambent Spaces uses AI to surface utilization patterns and trends over time to help corporate leaders decide how and when to open offices and buildings, and where they can assign or schedule places while maintenance or renovations are occurring. It can also be used to find locations to create collaborative spaces – a critical component for building return-to-office strategies. Lambent Spaces can reveal patterns at the seat level or across departments or specific zones.

Contact to learn how Lambent Spaces can help you modernize your space planning operations.

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