What percentage of offices are unoccupied?

The answer to "what percentage of offices are unoccupied" will vary depending on which of the following questions is being asked.

1. What percentage of the desks in a typical office are unoccupied?

2. What percentage of an office's floor plate is not used for work?

What percentage of the desks in a typical office are unoccupied?

The below graph details the percentage rate of unoccupied desks in traditional office based working environments.

Graph showing percentage of unoccuped offices througout a day

As the graph above shows, a typical desk occupancy rate is 73%, assuming the desk is used at least once per day; meaning that 27% of desks are unoccupied. However, at any given time of day, the maximum number of desks occupied will be around 48% (at approximately 2:30pm); meaning that up to 52% of desks may be unoccupied. This difference is caused because at any given time employees are out to lunch, using the washrooms, working in meeting rooms, or working in collaborative spaces.

Hybrid working environments, which support hot desking, will typically see a higher occupancy rate as they can make provisions for fewer desks per employee (referred to as a desk to person ratio). They make use of the 27% of space that is typically unoccupied - using it for additional collaborative spaces,  to reduce the size of their organisational footprint through sub-leasing, or simply renegotiating tenancies to lease less space.

What percentage of an office's floor plate is not used for work?

To answer this question we need to understand the difference between the Gross Internal Area of a building and the Net Office Area of a building. The definitions for which can be found here.

Typically a Net Office Area will make up 80-85% of the Gross Internal Area of a building. So the space "not used for work" will typically range from 15-20%.

High rise office buildings are likely to have a lower percentage of their Gross Internal Area used for working space, as there is a higher percentage of the floor plate taken up by the building structure and services (fire stairs, elevators, electrical and plumbing risers, etc). A good rule of thumb for a high rise building would be 20%

In contrast, low rise buildings require less room for services and so a good rule of thumb would be closer to 15%.

How much does the unoccupied office space cost my business?

Exactly how much your unoccupied office space costs your business will depend on a variety of factors, including your rental payment, crowding, and usage patterns. Fortunately, we've built a calculator to help you estimate how much your unoccupied office space is costing.

How  does the occupied rate of offices change by industry?

The rate of desk occupancy can vary by industry. Above we have looked at average figures. If you would like to know more about a specific industry we have gathered the links for you to learn more below:

Desk Occupancy Rates in Tech
Desk Occupancy Rates in the Public Sector
Desk Occupancy Rates in Professional Service
Desk Occupancy Rates in Financial Services