Employee:Desk Ratio Now a Crucial Tool For The Hybrid Work Environment

Several moons ago, in January 2020, before “pandemic” became a term synonymous with navigating daily life, we wrote a post on how an accurate employee:desk ratio can help companies grow into a flexible future. 

At the time, of course, we mused over how flex-work was moving from “trendy to mainstream” and how it better positions companies to meet the realities of the new gig economy. “Between 2005 and 2017, Americans who telecommute rose 159 percent, according to this labor analysis – to say things have drastically changed in two years is this century’s biggest understatement. 

That said, understanding your employee:desk ratio is now no longer simply helpful  – it’s an imperative for companies moving full throttle into the realities of the new hybrid world of work. That’s because knowing how people use a space is now essential in order to determine how to best use your existing office space, and importantly, best serve your employees. 

Consider that hybrid offices call for the majority of space, up to 75 percent, to be non-dedicated. Individual seating is not a main priority – and 1:1 desk ratios consume unnecessary real estate. 

Yet knowing how many desks to have available at any given time in any department can be tricky now. How can you predict when employees will be in the office, for how long, and whether they’ll even need a desk?

The pre-pandemic forecasting we’d done still holds true today – only now it’s even more complicated, with fewer days in office, increased need for collaboration when in-office, and added space and safety concerns. Take for example our case study on team behaviors at the main office of a global hospitality company. Some of their teams proved to be in the office far more often than others; some preferred desks most of the day, others not. 

Indoor location technology = accurate employee:desk ratios

The bigger the team and the bigger the space, the harder it can be to discern an accurate employee:desk ratio. Seasonality, hiring plans, attrition, and collaborative projects regularly influence these behaviors making it difficult to accurately measure.  

Fortunately, indoor location technology can gather and analyze data to hit such necessary levels of analysis. Going far beyond occupancy alone, our platform can help companies see how their space is actually being used each hour, day, week and month – patterns on which to base confident decisions.

The InnerSpace platform can measure the behavior of workers in every department. How often are team members at desks versus meeting rooms? What patterns of times of the day and days of the week start to appear? When are meeting rooms A, B and C most frequently sitting unused? How is the flexible working arrangements playing out in terms of office usage per department? 

Equipped with the right data, it’s then possible to discern the ideal employee:desk ratio for each department’s unique needs, helping companies grow as occupancy and utilization of their office space changes over time. Meanwhile, staying attuned to individual team needs for growth, collaboration and workstyles ensures employees feel valued and motivated to work hard  – wherever, whenever and in whatever manner they choose.