It’s 8:53 and Mike is circling a crowded office parking lot, trying to find a spot. 15 minutes later he gets to his office, but he’s late for the 9am meeting, and without his coffee.
It’s 5:45 pm and Joanna feels uneasy walking to her car after dark in a poorly lit parking lot.
Mike, Joanna, and millions more employees like them start or end their days in the office stressed and frustrated.
It’s time for companies to recognize the impact a well-designed, well-maintained parking lot can have on their workforce and improve this often-overlooked aspect of their office buildings. By doing so, they can create a sense of security and comfort for their employees and foster a positive and productive work environment.
The benefits of an efficient office parking lot
An efficient office parking lot is more than just a simple convenience for employees and guests. This is why we’ve shortlisted some of its main benefits below:
- A well-organized parking lot can be used as a tool to reduce stress at work, making employees start their days in the office with a more positive mindset. An efficient office parking lot will also increase employee satisfaction, leading to a better overall workplace experience. This will happen because the time and stress associated with finding a parking spot will diminish considerably.
- Improved traffic flow: inside a well-planned parking lot there is less traffic congestion, leading to smoother traffic flow and less time spent navigating through the lot.
- Reduced carbon emissions let’s face it, the fewer cars wandering in the parking lot, the better. This would mean they would not crowd the streets as well. This will translate into less pollution and better cities. So, what if companies encourage the use of bikes and scooters, while providing the right infrastructure for them in the parking lot? This will reduce carbon emissions and promote a more sustainable workplace.
- Lower costs: An efficient parking lot can reduce costs associated with parking management, such as maintenance and security, and can also help prevent employee turnover by improving their overall experience at work.
- Enhanced safety: An efficient parking lot can reduce the risk of accidents and improve pedestrian safety by ensuring that all vehicles are parked in designated areas and do not block the path of pedestrians.
- Improved reputation: An efficient parking lot can create a positive impression of the office among employees, visitors, and clients, enhancing the office’s reputation and image.
- More discipline, fewer violations and infringements if a proper parking policy is in place.
- Fewer employee visits at the help desk/reception/parking lot admin.
Now that we understand why an office must optimize its parking lot, let’s look at the main problems parking lot managers need to navigate.
The main problems in the office parking lot and how to tackle them
Challenge 1: more employees than spots or empty spots that are assigned and can’t be occupied by someone else
This is the status quo for the office parking lots out there:
- There aren’t enough parking spots
- Some employees have assigned spots, and if they don’t come to work, their spaces lie empty.
When there aren’t enough parking spaces for everyone who works in the office, employees may be arriving late for work or having to park in unauthorized areas, which can result in tickets or towing.
The question is: how can the availability in the parking lot be increased while using the same amount of space?
- Use parking lot management software to increase flexibility and visibility. This means that drivers won’t need to wander around the parking lot for an empty spot, only to discover that the parking lot is full. An app can tell him that when he’s at home planning for the day. This way he can either look for a spot somewhere else, or just think of an alternative means of transportation.
- Some apps have features that allow parking spots sharing (e.g., Tidaro) or hourly bookings. This means that someone who has an assigned spot but decides to work from home on a given day, he can decide to share his spot or make it available. Apps can collect data on parking usage patterns, the system can find underutilized spaces and decision makers can optimize space usage based on such data.
- From the parking lot design perspective, you can use angled parking: Angled parking can allow for more vehicles to fit in the same amount of space compared to straight-in parking. This can be especially effective in smaller lots or areas where space is limited. Also, if there are given spaces for bikes or scooters, they can be placed in narrower spaces, making space for cars, for example.
- Clear signage for specific spots (visitors, persons with disabilities) can also diminish frustrations in the parking lot and reduce confusion.
- Consider vertical parking solutions: Vertical parking solutions, such as parking lifts or stackers, will significantly increase the number of cars that can be parked in a single spot. These solutions require a higher investment upfront but can provide long-term benefits in terms of space maximization.
- Promote alternative transportation: encouraging employees to use alternative transportation options, such as public transit or carpooling, can help reduce the number of cars in the parking lot, thereby decreasing congestion and making it easier for those who still need to drive to find a spot. Some companies even have their own carpooling programs or are encouraging bike-to-work programs.
Challenge 2: parking lot quarrels
Arguments, or confrontations between drivers can occur in a crowded parking lot. This can be a result of frustration from not finding a parking spot or from other drivers blocking or cutting off other vehicles.
When a parking spot booking solution is used, together with a proper parking lot policy, such situations can easily be avoided. Only people with a booked spot will show up in the parking lot.
Challenge 3: security issues
Office parking lots can be a target for theft, break-ins, or other security concerns. This is especially important for employees who work late or leave their cars in the parking lot overnight.
Employers improve security in the parking lot by installing security cameras, increasing the presence of security personnel, or implementing access control systems.
Challenge 4: employees or visitors do not follow the parking rules that have been set
Some common parking infringements include:
- Parking in unauthorized areas: Employees or visitors may park in areas appointed for other purposes or reserved for specific groups, such as persons with disabilities or executive parking spots.
- Parking in fire lanes: Parking in fire lanes is illegal and can block emergency vehicles from accessing the building in case of an emergency.
- Blocking other cars, making it hard or impossible for the other driver to enter or exit their vehicle.
- Parking for too long: Some employees may use the parking lot for personal use, such as leaving their car in the lot overnight or for extended periods, which can be against company policy.
- Blocking access to dumpsters or recycling bins: An employee parks their car in front of the dumpsters or recycling bins, preventing the waste management company from accessing them.
It is essential for companies to set up and enforce clear parking rules and regulations, and to educate employees and visitors on these policies to prevent infringements from occurring.
When it comes to cars blocking other vehicles, some apps allow drivers to report the situation based on the license plate, so that the parking manager can take the proper action. This is how the Tidaro app approaches the problem.
Challenge 5: lack of maintenance
A poorly maintained car park (potholes, cracks, uneven surfaces) can cause damage to vehicles, and sometimes injuries to people.
Regular maintenance inside the parking lot.
Now, let’s see some of the advice above in practice, shall we?
Companies implementing successful programs for efficiency in the parking lot
At the end of the day whole industries are trying to answer 2 very simple questions: how can we get fewer people to drive alone to work, or choose a more sustainable means of transportation? This will have the biggest impact on office parking lot efficiency.
According to the 2016 Census in the USA, 76% of employees drove to work alone. Obviously, this data has suffered some changes since then, but this is still something that needs to be solved. Just imagine the impact of this on the environment and the sustainability of certain communities.
So, if we find one fix to the first problem, the impact can go beyond the topic of efficiency in the office parking lot. It will reach community level.
Now, we have two interesting company examples for you, examples that go beyond the actual office parking lot.
Back in 2007, Microsoft started to focus on reducing the company’s environmental footprint by making daily commutes more sustainable, at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. One of the ways they reduced the number of vehicles on the road is by giving employees access to programs like The Connector (a free bus service that is available to all full-time Microsoft employees).
When this service was launched in September of 2007, there were only five routes. In 2014, employees enjoyed access to 22 routes served by 74 buses. The pandemic disrupted the situation a bit, but the managing team is still working on getting feedback and improving the solution, while also expanding to other Microsoft locations.
Source: Financial Times
Moving on to Intel now. The Intel Ireland campus in Leixlip looks like a miniature town. This is why traffic towards the campus can affect the whole area. This is why Intel is always checking traffic information. They also developed a Mobility Management Program to discourage single occupancy car trips to the site and decrease the overall number of cars arriving at the Leixlip site.
This program has 4 layers:
- Cycling & running.
- Intel has secure weather-proof bicycle parking next to all main entrances for employees to park their bikes.
- Intel offers the Bike to Work scheme to employees – a tax efficient scheme whereby employees can buy a bicycle and accessories.
- Intel also supplies storage lockers and shower facilities in main office buildings for those that require their use after travelling to work.
- Tran & bus. Intel offers the Tax Saver scheme to its employees – a tax efficient scheme where employees can buy train and bus tickets at a reduced rate.
- Intel has an internal website and database to help employees set up a car-pool group and meet others interested in carpooling.
- Intel has priority car-pooling parking spaces next to main building entrances – only car-poolers are allowed to park in these spaces. Go Intel!
- Shuttle bus. As there is no public transport route between Celbridge and Leixlip, Intel offers a shuttle bus, (free of charge), to transport employees.
What about you? Feeling inspired already?