Parking at the office can take lessons from how we manage workspaces to reduce costs and maximise utilisation, says UbiPark CEO MOSSTYN HOWELL.
Hot-desking is a trend that has impacted many workplaces throughout Australia, as businesses look to adopt agile ways of working. It does away with the traditional concept of a fixed desk per employee and instead offers a pool of desks available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The idea behind the concept is to create a more efficient, cost-effective workplace. It looks to reduce the amount of wasted space in an office taken up by staff who do not need a desk, use one infrequently or do not want one. This is in part to address the fact that, globally, companies underutilise 30 to 40 percent of their space on a typical workday.
And, to an extent, it has worked. Hot-desking has reduced the amount of office space required to host a workforce, but arguments can be made around the negative impacts it has on staff members, who have to search for a desk and no longer sit with their teams.
However, while the merits of hot-desking can be debated, there is an opportunity to apply its space-saving principles to other business cost-centres, such as parking.
Staff parking costs continue to spiral out of control
For many businesses, particularly those with large workforces, staff parking can be an exorbitant cost. For instance, in Melbourne, it can cost up to $500 per month per bay, whilst Sydney can be closer to $600. If you have a workforce of hundreds or thousands of employees, this quickly adds up.
Furthermore, space is becoming a premium. Councils are actively looking to reduce the number of parking bays within urban centres, either by reducing bays on the street, reducing the development requirements to provide new buildings with parking or applying a congestion levy to parking spaces. This has resulted in the price of parking increasing, to the point where it has become an unaffordable necessity for a lot of businesses today.
Exacerbating the problem further is the fact that Australians are still, by and large, a nation of car commuters. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 79 percent of workers commute by car. So, if you have a workforce of 1000 employees, you would need to provide accessible parking for 790 of them. The cost of providing a bay for each would quickly rack up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Even then, many of these companies have more employees commuting by car than they have spaces. This leads to companies having to purchase overflow parking from parking providers at a significantly higher cost.
A ‘hot-park’ approach can reduce these costs
It doesn’t need to be this way. Smart parking technology can open the door for businesses to apply the space-saving principals of hot-desking.
While many of us commute to work by car, we do not necessarily drive to work every day. This means that a business’ parking allocation is often underutilised. And, a wasted bay, even for a day, is an expensive outlay businesses could do without.
Instead, a smaller pool of bays could be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. This would help to increase the utilisation rate of parking while reducing the overall costs.
But what happens to those unlucky ones, the ones who turn up looking for a space only to find they’re all full?
Smart parking provides the insight to maximise the effectiveness of hot-parking
This is where smart parking technology can come in. How? By utilising existing parking technology such as parking sensors and barrier systems to map parking bay availability, and providing this data in an easy to use staff parking app.
For staff, this means they can log into an app before they set off for work, and book an available bay. If all the bays are occupied, then employees can make the decision to take public transport, car share or find an alternative means of getting to work.
In some instances, it may still be necessary for employees to drive into work when parking is full. Smart parking aggregators can help address this challenge. They can offer businesses an on-demand parking overflow facility, utilising available nearby parking facilities, often at a lower cost than if they purchased their own overflow facility.
This data can then be integrated into the staff parking app, enabling those needing to drive to work to easily search, navigate and access available off-site parking. The utilisation of the on-demand overflows is then tracked and invoices sent directly to the business.
Looking at the figures on the UbiPark platform, we found one company currently spends just under $5 million a year on staff overflow parking. A smart parking solution will offer a significant cost saving of 50 percent.
By having companies transform their current staff parking model into one that is built on the model of hot-parking, they can ensure that spaces are always utilised. On-demand overflows further reduce costs by providing a cost-effective means to access additional parking and only pay for what is used. Not only will this approach save companies money by negating the need to own and pay for a large number of spaces, but if managed digitally and effectively, could also help to reduce congestion by encouraging car commuters to take public transport when bays aren’t available.
Mosstyn Howell is the CEO of hot-parking service UbiPark.