News release

Occupancy data is shaping the future of workplace planning

JLL survey reveals the latest work style that requires new planning methods

September 11, 2019

Technology and social changes have been radically transforming workplaces for decades. But the rise in mobility and the “liquid workforce” has completely reimagined spaces and ways where we work and how we work.

According to JLL’s latest report 2019 Occupancy Benchmarking Guide, as organizations are striving to deliver future-focused workplaces inspiring a productive and mobile workforce, occupancy planning is undergoing a major transformation.

The report is based on the analysis of JLL’s Global Occupancy Planning survey, which received responses from 108 leaders across 69 organizations around the globe. Detailed metrics from organizations of all sizes, across all industries and regions, provides a glimpse into how people use space and help real estate experts make smarter decisions on space needs for today and tomorrow.

Occupancy planning undergoing transformation

Today, the average knowledge worker is at their desk only for 40 percent of the time, according to the Gartner Group. Organizations are rapidly adjusting their workplaces to adapt to this new way of working.

“Year over year, we are seeing a marked shift toward the open office environment,” Jeremy Doherty, Regional Manager of Occupancy Planning for JLL Asia Pacific, points out.

Even in the survey, 43 percent of respondents–up from 35 percent in 2017, indicated that currently enclosed offices constitute less than 5 percent of their sites. In 2017, only 41 percent of the organizations surveyed reported having a mobility program. This year, the number has risen to more than half.

90% of responses cited the need to support planning that fuels more informed decision-making regarding the reason for tracking utilization.

“Today, corporate real estate teams are typically tracking utilization so they can be more proactive planners, whereas in the past they were driven more by reactive reporting needs,” explains Wayne Wong, Head of Occupancy Planning for JLL China.

Metric tracking contributing to operational and financial efficiency

Tracking occupancy metrics and benchmarking those measures against other firms is the first step to a more optimized real estate portfolio. Benchmarking is the key to measure the operational and financial efficiency of a workplace, which can help examine its future fitness. This contributes directly to financial returns: for instance, companies that report metrics are twice as likely to report cost savings and avoidances. Meanwhile, those who gather demand data are 65% more likely to report their cost savings and avoidances. These companies demonstrate the strategic advantage in adopting this process.

“By tracking utilization, we uncover valuable insights that can trim excessive spending on large offices in favor of more collaborative space that appeals to next-gen employees who crave the ‘anytime, anywhere’ work style,” adds Wayne.

Technology becoming the driving force of occupancy planning

To understand better, which spaces employees are actually using, CRE leaders are eagerly embracing new opportunities, offered by innovative technology tools, like utilization tracking, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive technologies. Accordingly, they are creating a work environment that keeps employees happy and productive. These tools can provide real-time utilization insights to help CRE leaders plan for the future-fit office. 76 percent of survey respondents, who track utilization, use some form of technology, either alone or in combination with visual monitoring.

“Looking ahead, advances in workplace and occupancy planning technologies will ensure that we build more adaptable and flexible spaces,” Jeremy says.  

As we know, millennials want to work in places where they feel comfortable and be more productive. In fact, work environment is one of the key considerations when they make employment decisions.

“This workplace flexibility will then result in fewer underutilized spaces and a more productive, happy workforce,” Jeremy says. “With better-informed insights, organizations can ultimately improve the occupier experience, eliminate overcrowded or under-used spaces, reduce excess costs and achieve a return on their investment.”

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.3 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of nearly 92,000 as of June 30, 2019. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit