Employees in the UK are heading back to the office in droves. After Britain’s official work-from-home policy was dropped in January, Britain’s business minister urged employees to return back to offices. But how has that actually impacted workplace foot traffic?
In this post, we’ll compare workplace foot traffic and space usage data from companies based in the US and the UK over the past 12 months. We’re diving into Envoy’s proprietary platform data to share insights and trends that can help workplace leaders in the UK and around the globe drive important return-to-office decisions.
Some key takeaways from the past year of workplace data:
- Britain is back: Workplace foot traffic in the UK is up 430%, compared to only 60% growth in the US
- The UK is hot for hot desking: employees booked nearly 3X more desks at the start of this year compared to the summer of 2021
- Employees want to collaborate on-site: meeting room bookings grew nearly 20X in the back half of 2021
Britain is back: Workplace foot traffic in the UK grew 450% throughout 2021
Looking at the total number of employees returning to the workplace, you might think that the US has far more of its workforce back on-site than the UK. However, Envoy’s data on workplace traffic in the UK shows an incredible level of growth in the past year—nearly 6X the growth that the US saw in the same time period.
From January through November 2021, workplace entries grew 450% in the UK, compared to only 60% growth in the US. Workplaces saw a dip in traffic in December due to the holidays and the spread of the Omicron variant. However, traffic quickly picked up again in January, jumping 67% from the end-of-year lull.
Some of the growth in traffic is attributed to a strong push to return to the office from the country’s leadership. With the UK government urging employees to return to the office, we can expect workplace traffic to continue the upward trend throughout the rest of the year.
Is your company gearing up for the big return? Check out these resources to be sure your workplace is ready:
- 5 actions you can take to build a better workplace experience
- 6 ideas to create a workplace your people will love
- Bonus: Going hybrid? Check out How to create hybrid policies and guidelines that work
The UK is hot for hot desking: employees booked nearly 3X more desks at the start of this year compared to the summer of 2021
With more people returning to the office, we wanted to explore how an increase in foot traffic has impacted workplace space utilisation.
Since the launch of Envoy’s hot desking product in June 2021 through February 2022, desk reservations grew more than 3X in the UK. In the same timespan, desk bookings made by employees in the US grew by less than half that amount (1.2X). We can attribute the faster growth in the UK to the country’s excitement to get employees back into the office and broad adoption of hybrid work tools.
We can expect these trends to continue upwards as more companies welcome their employees on-site. Companies need to keep up with the new benefit of flexibility that a hybrid work model provides by supplying employees with the space they need to do their best work on-site.
Interested in learning more about hot desking? Here are some resources to help you set up your space:
- What is hot desking and why does your office need it now?
- Want your people back in the workplace? Hot desks may be the key to your success
- Bonus: Not quite ready but want to put hot desking tools on the backlog? Here’s Your workplace technology roadmap.
Employees want to collaborate on-site: meeting room bookings grew nearly 20X in the back half of 2021
Hot desks are only half the story when it comes to workplace space usage. Employees don’t only come to the office to get work done, they come to get work done together. When asked in a recent survey what excites them most about returning to the office, 42% of employees said that collaborating in-person was the biggest draw.
The UK saw an incredible amount of growth in employees booking meeting rooms on-site. Compared to the summer of 2021, employees reserved 20X more than rooms in the back half of the year. Similar to foot traffic trends, there was a dip over the holidays, but employees were back meeting face to face after the new year.
Demand for in-person collaboration also grew in the US, but not nearly at the same rate. Meeting room bookings in the states increased more than 3X in the second half of 2021 compared to the first half.
Envoy’s Regional Customer Success Lead in the UK recently shared his learnings about hybrid work since he started working from the London office this year: “Encouraging team days or in-person working sessions has added a layer of purpose to our time in the office.”
The growth in meeting room demand is a signal that employees want to work on-site. To support them, take action to optimise your meeting room space and make the booking experience painless. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- How to make meeting room reservations a breeze
- Use room scheduling software to help folks easily find and book a room
- Bonus: Unsure how to build a space that works for your people? Download Space management tips to help your people thrive in a hybrid workplace.
The latest data shows that office life may be returning to normal in the UK. Not only will workplace foot traffic continue to steadily increase, but the demand for desks and meeting rooms will rise as well. If you haven’t already, now is the time to plan your company’s return to office. Check out even more helpful tips, best practices, and guides in the hybrid work resource center.