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Office Occupancy Peaks as Schools Reopen

Office Occupancy Peaks as Schools Reopen
10 September 2021

Office occupancy has reached its highest level since March 2020 in the first weeks of September.

Using IoT sensors to track occupancy levels, new data released by the smart buildings software platform Metrikus demonstrates the "back to school effect" on office attendance.

The weekly median for workplace occupancy, for the week following the Bank Holiday on 30 August, hit 70 per cent and Monday 6 September recorded a new high of 87 per cent of Metrikus’ pre-lockdown baseline.

The data also indicates Friday is the least popular day of the week to travel into the office, with Friday attendance hovering at around two-thirds of the weekly median.

Mondays also fall below the median, with the remaining days of the week closely grouped, suggesting that employees are taking advantage of the “three on, two off” model for hybrid working.


Offering Something Workers Can't Get at Home


Metrikus COO Michael Grant commented on the data:

“The beginning of September has produced a dramatic change in town centres, but we also understand that the impact of COVID on offices will be profound and long-lasting. The return to city centre offices isn’t universal, and employees’ readiness to return is influenced by a number of factors. Our intuition is that the forecasters who have been predicting a split in the market are correct, with high-quality buildings in good locations performing well, and assets at the other end of the market coming into trouble.

“We saw evidence last week that BREEAM outstanding buildings command a substantial premium in rent over their lower-ranked peers. The heatwave in July led to anecdotal reports of overheated homeworkers taking refuge in air-conditioned offices. This leads to the conclusion that where offices are of a high quality, with steps taken to promote wellbeing, collaboration, productivity and the work-life balance, we will find that staff are more enthusiastic about returning to the workplace.

“Throughout the pandemic our message to employers has been ‘what are your offices offering workers that they can’t get at home?’. Features like indoor air quality, wellbeing and a focused space that caters to different workstyles are the new “must-haves” for successful workplaces and a smart building platform like Metrikus places actionable insights with a very granular level of detail in the hands for property managers so that they can optimise their spaces.”


The Role of Sensors in the Return to Work


A recently announced collaboration between Cardiff University and Open Space Network has focussed on providing new insight into employee choices around hybrid working and the office environment post-COVID-19. By understanding patterns of space use and human interactions in the office environment, the university is developing critical knowledge to balance measurements of the risk certain design and layouts have on transmission risks against social benefit and employee happiness.

Freespace’s workplace sensors are being used by Cardiff University to help create long-term healthy working environments. Combined with other smart access and interaction technologies they will provide a unique picture of future workspace requirements. When the scientific study is complete in October 2021, the university will start drawing conclusions based on the evidence from Freespace’s anonymous occupancy data.

The study will deliver a long-term, scientifically monitored example of how people interact within a workplace. This will enable Cardiff University to develop a robust understanding of occupancy patterns and trends, and help to deliver findings that will assist with future workplace decisions.

Picture: a photograph of a pile of colourful books 

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 10 September 2021


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