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Office workplace is 'poorly used asset'

14 April 2014

New research by management consultants and workplace specialists AWA shows the office workplace is a poorly used asset

Offices are available for occupancy 365 days a year, but only open 12 hours a day most days and are unused at weekends says management consultant and workplace specialists AWA. Even when office workplaces are open, desks are used only on average 59% of the time and meeting spaces 39%.

AWA also reveals drop-in desks aren’t widely used and that London offices work a bit harder than workplaces outside the capital. The good news is that well-designed programmes for agile or advanced working can boost desk utilisation to as much as 80% without adversely affecting productivity.

The Utilisation of the Office report, based on AWA’s work with organisations over recent years, sets out some frightening truths about the way in which the workplace is being used (or not) and points at ways underutilised capacity can be used to get a better deal for people and shareholders.

AWA says one reason for the poor use of office space is the architectural and interior design professions tend to follow a ‘data less’ approach. Too often briefing starts with what people want, as opposed to what is demonstrated to be needed through thorough analysis. “We would implore architects and interior designers to adopt an evidence-based approach to briefing and design, so a proper understanding of how people work and their use of and need for different spaces is considered,” says AWA MD Andrew Mawson.

AWA has been consulting on advanced working for nearly 20 years. It advocates that people should be provided with the tools and spaces needed to give them the best chance of doing their best work; while through the deployment of agile working practices, make the best use of space to maximise the use, flexibility and sustainability of office assets.

“In recent months we’ve been considering the relationship of space utilisation to sustainability,” says Mawson. “We’ve concluded independently that the most powerful way to reduce CO2 is to use fewer buildings by consolidating occupancy and increasing utilisation through agile working.”

* Read the rest of this article in the May print edition of PFM Magazine

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