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    Since the announcement that working from home is no longer necessary, use of workplaces has increased slightly.

    The use of workplaces and meeting rooms in offices in the Netherlands has fallen sharply since the first lockdown. This is evident from data from Beyond Eyes, an initiative for smart building development by Heijmans and CSU. Before the pandemic, the average use of workplaces was around 29% during office hours and the average use of meeting rooms was around 36%. After the first lockdown came into effect in March 2020, the average of workplaces was only around 2%. It is striking that the fall in staffing at large organizations (+1000 employees) was stronger than at small and medium-sized enterprises. The use of meeting rooms decreased by 29% and that of workplaces by 27%.

    Meeting room occupancy in particular is increasing

    “Last summer we saw a slow increase in office and meeting space use, but it was not even a fraction of what the occupation was before corona,” says Jeroen Groenen, manager Beyond Eyes. “What was also striking is that although the occupancy of meeting rooms decreased sharply, the use was higher than the workplace use during both the first and second lockdown. Currently, the average occupancy of meeting rooms is 26% and of workplaces 9%. This indicates that many spaces are already being used to meet each other in one way or another, provided that the 1.5 meters can be guaranteed. The need for physical and personal contact is therefore increasing and the layout of the office will be given a different interpretation”.

    Better balance between working from home and the office

    Now that the relaxation has started, the data from Beyond Eyes shows that the occupation of workplaces and meeting rooms is slowly increasing again. However, the occupancy is not expected to return to pre-corona levels as quickly. Many organizations are now thinking more about the possibilities of achieving a better balance between working from home alternating with office days. This means that other decisions have to be made. For example, many organizations will have their employees reserve a workplace to prevent all employees from being in the office or at home at the same time.

    The importance of hard data to manage workplaces is great

    On the other hand, the data from Beyond Eyes sees that existing spaces are being rearranged to make things like hybrid meetings better possible, but also to reduce the costs of managing and using workplaces. It also listens to the needs of employees. Working in the office is shifting function, it is now much more about coming together instead of working effectively. Moreover, it is very important that well-considered decisions can be made on the basis of hard data and facts; after all, the interests for employees and employers are great. Satisfied people ensure higher productivity and lower absenteeism due to illness.

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