- Foot traffic is a metric used to measure the number of people who physically walk and move around in a given space, such as a coworking or flex workspace.
- The more foot traffic data you have at your disposal, the better equipped you are to identify patterns and measure your space’s performance.
- Smart building operators use IoT technology to obtain data and analyse it to find out which resources perform well and which can be altered to run in a more cost-effective and energy efficient way.
Foot traffic in the office isn’t the same thing as “occupancy.” Even if a flexible workspace is 100% occupied, its success could well be short-lived and the value proposition diminished if there isn’t ample foot traffic within the space. Let us explain…
What is foot traffic?
“Foot traffic is a metric used to measure the number of people who physically walk and move around in a given space, for example, a coworking or flex workspace,” says Carlos Almansa, co-founder and director of the coworking management software company, Nexudus.
You can track your workspace’s foot traffic by analysing sign in data and by integrating your access control systems with occupancy sensors placed in various locations around the building, such as in meeting rooms.
Smart buildings are adept at measuring foot traffic. Smart building operators use IoT technology to obtain data and analyse it to find out which resources perform well and which can be altered to run in a more cost-effective and energy efficient way.
How did the COVID-19 lockdowns affect foot traffic?
In a sector-first, Nexudus analysed how the flexible workspace industry evolved from January 2016 to September 2021, and looked closely at how the pandemic has affected both the industry’s development as a whole and foot traffic within workspaces.
You can explore all the findings in Nexudus’ Nexudus Insights study. Nexudus studied 3.5 million records obtained in the period from 2016 to 2021, and 90 countries were analysed.
“Different lockdowns impacted the office’s foot traffic, as a good part of the workforce started working from home. For example, in our recent study, we found that during the first lockdown (March-April 2020), bookings fell by 84% in meeting rooms,” explains Carlos.
Since the initial lockdown period, the use of bookable resources, such as meeting rooms and hot desks, has been increasing – but it’s not back to normal yet. The data suggests that the future does look bright for coworking, however, as Carlos explains…
Are offices getting busier now?
“We’ve noticed activity coming back to pre-pandemic levels since 2021,” adds Carlos, “In the Nexudus Insights paper mentioned above, we found that the average monthly bookings in August 2021 were 31% below the average of 2019. If the market continues to evolve at the current rate, in 2022 resource bookings will exceed pre-pandemic figures.”
Hot desks have become a key facilitator of office foot traffic. Since the first lockdown, the booking of flexible desks has increased by 472%
According to the report, hot desk bookings have increased by 62% compared to the pre-pandemic period. The percentage of hot desk bookings now represents 8% of all bookings of bookable resources. Before the pandemic, the maximum it reached was 3%.
Why should operators measure foot traffic?
According to Carlos, “there are several things that can be measured in the office’s environment to help understand the dynamics and improve areas like tenant experience and energy consumption. Foot traffic can help us to understand how a physical building is used so that, for example, we can identify areas where the usage is low.”
“On top of that, by connecting this data to HVAC systems, energy consumption can be optimised in areas that are not intensively used. Also, understanding the number of people and how they move within the building can help to improve its layout,” according to Carlos.
However, when analysing these metrics, Carlos says we should ask ourselves:
- Why did we choose a particular metric?
- How does this metric relate to others in the office context?
- What are the actions that we take with the outcome of our analysis?
The more foot traffic data you have at your disposal, the better equipped you are to identify patterns and measure your space’s performance. You can also use this data to inform your staffing rota and – just as importantly – your marketing strategy.
Interestingly, the report found that in the US, UK and Spain, bookings of resources on Mondays and Fridays are between 2% and 5% lower than those on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Could you leverage this knowledge for a social media campaign, offering those who engage with your content 20% off meeting rooms on a Monday, for instance?
The US is the market where people get up the earliest and work the longest. The peak time in the US for bookable resources is 10am, with 9am coming in at a close second. There are a small percentage of bookings at 9pm (practically zero in the other countries).
Foot traffic data to inform business decisions
Reporting tools like Nexudus Explore help you make data-driven decisions for your space by providing you with visual representations of how your space is being utilised. Once you’ve got a handle on your foot traffic data, you can use it to inform the following:
- Staffing – You can have more team members on the desk or cafe at busier times and avoid overstaffing during quieter periods.
- Stock planning – Understanding your foot traffic will help you predict sign-ins and the amount of stock – e.g. coffee and toiletries – you need to order.
- Sales strategies – If you’re aware of the peak footfall periods, you can tailor your sales strategy to try and get members and users in during quieter periods.
- Growth opportunities – Are you considering opening a second or third location? You can use the data you collect to help inform any expansion plans.
- Marketing strategies – You can use foot traffic data to measure the success of your social media campaigns for upcoming events.
- Energy consumption – In the US, commercial buildings account for 20% of energy used and around 30% of that energy is wasted. Use foot traffic data to pinpoint areas in your building that waste energy and where costs can be reduced.
- Design and layout – If certain areas or resources are underutilised, it could be time to go back to the (designer’s) drawing board and reconfigure your space.