For corporate employees and executives, work culture has taken a complete turn this past year. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to the workplace on a global scale, from high unemployment rates to a surge in working remotely. What once were offices full of people working at their desks, collaborating with each other and socialising during coffee and lunch breaks are now mainly empty facilities. The same goes for corporate parking lots.
Looking back at pre-pandemic times
Prior to the pandemic, the most common struggle with corporate parking was its lack of available spaces. Those who commute to work by car know how significant the element of parking accessibility is. When considering employment at a new company, transportation to and from the workplace is a crucial part of it: planning the commute, figuring out whether a personal car or public transportation is the better option, and then in the case of commuting by car, whether there is a company parking lot or if using public parking is the necessary choice. Still, even when there is a corporate parking lot open to its employees, problems may arise.
Inadequate amounts of parking spots for employees was a common issue, often dismissed despite playing a huge role in the lives of employees. Back in 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that even tech entrepreneur Elon Musk experienced employee parking pains at his office in Fremont, California, where a total of 6,000 employees battled for a space in a parking lot with a capacity of 4,500 cars.
When an employee has to partake in so-called “parking wars” with coworkers in order to secure a spot, that employee will lose time and then enter the office irritable and upset, moods that can last hours or even a whole day. Not everyone is able to get to the office early in order to have better access to parking spaces. Efficient parking management is a crucial solution to this, and technology is often the answer. Corporate employees start and end their shifts with parking, and it can impact moods which will in turn impact wellbeing and productivity.
What are the current challenges of corporate parking?
As soon as the pandemic started in March of 2020, corporate executives and employees began working remotely from their homes. People set up home offices in their living rooms, garages, kitchens and bedroom and rarely visited the office, if ever, for the first few months of lockdown. With empty offices came empty parking lots, which quickly became a concern as rent payments still needed to be made despite a lack of use.
The lockdown affects still persist, but things are slowly changing, as can be seen from the Chicago Loop Alliance monthly reports. According to their January report, pedestrian activity in the Chicago Loop was down 70% compared to the same time the previous year, but as many as 41% of stakeholders reported that in January, their operations were open and some staff works at the office while others work from home, 17% report that their operations were fully open with the entire staff working on-site, and 20% report that 100% of their employees were working full-time in the Loop, and furthermore, during the summer of 2020, parking occupancy rose to 80% compared to the previous year, and over 55% of respondents reported they use a personal car to get to work in the Loop. That attests to that despite less activity and more remote work, people are still frequently travelling by car, and the need for corporate parking spaces continues to exist.
However, not everyone can carry out all of their work responsibilities from home, and offices are slowly beginning to open their doors. In Atlanta, law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner shared that they were seeing 10-15% of their staff coming in on a daily basis last September. Many corporations are continuing to bet on the necessity of offices. In August of 2020, when the pandemic was very much in full swing, Facebook signed a lease for the entire office space in the Farley building in New York City, which amounts to 730,000 square feet of office space.
Going back to the office is a step by step process. The “new normal” of corporations is a hybrid workplace: working part-time from the office and part-time from home.
With a hybrid workplace, a hybrid parking lot is the solution to effective parking management. A partially empty parking lot due to employees and executives coming and going at various times of the day and coming in only on set days leaves room for renting out parking spaces to other companies or the general public. That will allow corporations to monetise their parking lots and utilise them to the fullest extent. By implementing technological solutions, such as NaviParking Enterprise, the optimisation and monetisation of parking spaces is simple, efficient and even offers the possibility of remote management and monitoring by parking administrators.
Digital parking solutions also reduce contact with external surfaces and some even do it to the fullest extent, offering a fully touchless experience, enabling people to access parking facilities with the help of their smartphones. That is especially important now when safety has become a primary concern at work. A survey carried out by Eden Workplace in partnership with Wakefield Research for the one year mark of the COVID-19 quarantine found that 85% of office employees want to return to the office, but 61% believe that their employers should strictly enforce COVID-related safety regulations, and 26% say there should be consequences for employees who don’t follow these regulations. Employees do not want to go to the office if they believe their health might be at risk or that they might come in contact with the virus. When it comes to implementing safety measures in the workplace, parking facilities cannot be forgotten.
What is the post-pandemic future of corporate parking?
Many executives and employees want to be back in the office, at least a couple of times a week, which will cause a returning necessity for efficient parking management for employees. In a survey conducted by PwC, 68% of executives reported wanting employees to work from the office at least three times a week and a majority of employees said going to the office is important to them when it comes to collaborating with their teams and building relationships. That comes as no surprise. Apart from the social aspect of working at the office and having a better sense of belonging to a team, the workplace offers a productive environment and better access to work equipment and files.
Safety will continue to be a huge concern even after the pandemic is over. Corporations should implement safety measures across the entire workplace, not just through spacing out the work stations but also ensuring their employees are safe in the parking facilities. Parking will carry on being a significant part of the lives of employees, and the effectiveness of parking management should include safety measures that revolve around touchless access to parking spaces.
Despite a hybrid workplace, the need for parking spaces may not decrease as compared to pre-pandemic. That is because there may be a rise in commuting by private vehicles, as this is often deemed the much safer option as opposed to using public transport. A recent study published by the Transport Division (TD) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), titled “Impact of Covid-19 on mobility in Indian cities,” revealed that residents of India are likely to use public transport less often than pre-COVID and 40.1% of people who had regularly travelled by public transport before the pandemic, say that they would prefer not to do so.
Moreover, there’s a rising trend of people moving from cities to the suburbs to get away from the crowds and high amounts of COVID-19 cases. This may further contribute to an increase in using private vehicles, which is not only usually the quicker way of getting to work as opposed to public transportation, but it is also easier since public transportation is often not as accessible in the suburbs as it is in bigger cities. In a 2020 report for the National Growth Areas Alliance titled “Jobs and commuting in outer growth suburbs,” it is revealed that the majority of those who commute to the city from the suburbs in Australia are doing so with a private vehicle. As many as 76% of Melbourne’s outer suburbs residents, 71% of Sydney’s outer suburbs residents and 77% of Adelaide’s outer suburbs residents report commuting by car. Additionally, due to safety concerns, there might be a decrease in carpooling, further increasing the need for parking spaces as more people will travel to work in separate cars.
The pandemic has also caused an overall increase in car purchases and the frequency of travel by car. According to the 2020 EY Mobility Consumer Index, 31% of survey respondents who do not currently own a car plan on doing so within the next six months and 20% of those who do are open to buying another one, calling the pandemic one of the main reasons for this. To add more, 78% of those surveyed said they are more likely to travel in personal cars after the pandemic. The survey also found that there is 69% less travel by public transport to work and that 90% of respondents from China, 85% of respondents from India and 81% respondents from Germany are more likely to travel more frequently by car.
Just like every other industry and sector, corporate parking management must adapt to the changes which came into effect during the pandemic and which will continue to arise in a post-pandemic world. Those corporations which equip themselves with flexible and innovative parking solutions will be able to face these challenges and adapt to a new normal much better. The above mentioned NaviParking Enterprise is such a solution, allowing corporations to optimise their parking lots, but also optionally monetising them, depending on their needs and changing demand of the workplace.
Find out more about our digital corporate parking solutions at https://naviparking.com/services/shared-parking