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Roughly 36% of Desks Globally Sit Empty

A new report from Australian workplace sensor provider XY Sense says over one-third of desks in offices globally are vacant all week, further highlighting that companies have struggled to get employees back in the office and have yet to fully adjust to the norm of hybrid working conditions.

The report discovered that 36% of cubicles and desks are never used, which is evidence of “a general oversupply.”

Of desks occupied in the survey, the report claims around 29% were used for three hours or less, and 14% around five or more hours.

The study tracked 24,855 workspaces in the US, UK, Hong Kong and Singapore, and other locations for a total of nine regions studied.

In contrast to desks, meeting spaces were used the most, with typically two or three people, and were, on average, 90% full.

The overall numbers indicate office usage has stagnated at roughly 50% of pre-pandemic use, demonstrating the obstacles organisations have in optimising office-space requirements.

“It’s time to rethink the humble desk,” said Alex Birch, co-founder and chief executive officer of XY Sense.

“They dominate space in our offices, they’re expensive and we’re just not using them the way we were pre-pandemic.”

Birch believes businesses should consider eliminating unneeded desk space not just for the bottom line but for better workplace environments.

“For far too long we designed offices as if we’re potted plants,” said Kay Sargent, director of the workplace practice at architecture and design firm HOK.

“Are you really inviting people back to the office to have them sit at a desk all day? Or do you want to encourage them to connect, mentor and innovate?”