Common employee parking problems, traditional parking management systems, and the best solutions
Staff parking is an important perk for your team that also provides a number of business benefits. The ability to easily park onsite creates a better commute - which is linked to improved wellbeing, productivity, engagement and retention. Happy, healthy, productive staff? Yes, please.
Want to skip ahead? Find the most relevant sections for you!
Despite its importance, workplace parking all too often gets tied up in problems and complaints. Here are a few examples:
To further complicate matters, there are a few different business objectives related to workplace parking, which can be in conflict.
Staff engagement - For CEOs, HR, and managers, staff parking is an important component in staff happiness. An easier commute increases engagement and productivity, and helps with talent retention and acquisition.
Financial concerns - CFOs and Finance don’t want to spend more than they need to on parking, in terms of both lease costs and administrative costs. They also want to ensure that what the business pays for is being used efficiently.
Environmental policies - Sustainability Managers may want to reduce the number of staff driving to work, which could mean implementing carpooling bays, EV charger parks, or reducing the number of parking spots available to the team.
There’s plenty of research about how commuting affects health, happiness, workplace engagement, and retention. Some of the conclusions are pretty damning:
Unhappy employees and high turnover are not what companies want. While companies can’t influence much of their employees’ commute, a big part of the problem is parking - and staff parking is largely within a company’s control.
On average, 12% of a company’s real estate spend is on their car park. This is what that looks like in a few major cities:
Prior to Covid-19 and the widespread adoption of flexible and remote working, the average company car park saw 20-35% of its parking spots sitting empty every workday. Now, we’ve seen car parks up to 57% empty as more staff work from home.
If a company leases 100 staff parking spots and 33 of their parks sit empty during the year, they are effectively spending over $100,000 dollars or pounds each annum on a vacant asset. By city, that’s a wasted spend of:
This doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t spend money on staff parking. As we’ve seen, onsite parking can make a big difference to staff engagement. However, it does mean that there’s sound financial reason to use car parks more efficiently - rather than letting them sit empty.
What an example? Check out how Datacom increased their car park occupancy by 15% through a smart parking management system.
For some businesses and organisations, administrating the car park can be hugely time-consuming and complex.
All of these issues drain time and resources, and distract your admin team from more valuable tasks. However, the root problem is always the same: manual systems for monitoring, booking, and payment. With a parking management system, each of these tasks is automated, saving the admin team time and resources.
For example, TAB saved 670 hours of administrative time each year by automating their processes with car park management software.
Traditionally, there are two common ways to manage staff parking: allocation, and first come, first served. Here’s a quick overview of each system, the problems, and what companies can do about it.
An allocated parking system describes a car park setup where each parking spot is assigned to a specific member of staff. Sometimes an allocated park is part of the employee’s contract, and is paid for by the company. In other cases, staff pay an annual salary sacrifice for their park, effectively offsetting the business cost of leasing the car park.
Generally, parks are allocated based on one of two things:
Because companies usually have far more employees than parking spots, staff members who do not have an allocated parking spot are left to fend for themselves.
The major issue with an allocated parking system is that staff are not always in the office. When you take into account remote working, sick leave, holidays, and alternative transport, each employee only actually drives into work and uses their allocated park about 70% of the time.
Because of this, about 30% of staff car parks sit empty each working day. Since Covid-19, these numbers have increased hugely for companies with flexible working policies.
An underused car park has a financial and human cost:
For these reasons, companies like Tonkin + Taylor transitioned away from an allocated parking system when they went to flexible working, and instead use Parkable to share space between all of their staff.
If you want to retain allocated parking as a perk for specific staff while utilising those allocated parks when they sit empty, a ‘park sharing’ system gives you the best of both worlds, allowing staff to share their park with colleagues whenever they’re away from the office.
The traditional alternative to allocated parking is a ‘first come, first served’ system. Basically, whoever turns up first gets to park, and if you’re too late, you miss out. Although this is generally seen as more democratic than allocated parking, because all members of staff have the right to park onsite, there are problematic biases at play when you look at who is actually benefiting.
In a ‘first come, first served’ system, it’s easy for Dan to get to work early enough to secure a parking spot, whereas someone like Sarah will always miss out because she has responsibilities that are outside of her control. Over time, Sarah will grow resentful - especially if off site parking is scarce, far from the office, or expensive.
Similarly, this system can incentivise behaviour like staff turning up at work hours early and then eating breakfast or napping in their cars, which is not generally seen as the epitome of ‘work-life balance’.
In short, ‘first come, first served’ benefits some members of your team while being disadvantageous to others - just like an allocation system.
An alternative is to make your car park bookable. This makes the opportunity to park onsite more fairly spread, and removes the need for staff to turn up unnecessarily early. For companies which charge an hourly or daily rate for staff parking, a booking system that also handles payment can significantly simplify car park administration.
Other companies combine these two systems, with some parking spots allocated and others available to all staff on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. While this may appear to be a good ‘middle ground’, many of the problems remain - challenging administration, allocated parks sitting vacant, parking creating a need to arrive at work early, and working parents who never get a chance to use the car park.
There are a few ways to solve parking problems. If your existing car parks aren’t being used efficiently, as is the case with the grand majority of workplace car parks, a smart parking management system is likely the best solution. Similarly, if time-consuming car park administration is on your mind, a system that automates payment and monitoring can do wonders.
However, if car parks are being used efficiently and you still have a problem, the solution may lie in either increasing the supply (leasing more parking spots) or reducing the demand (encouraging staff to use alternative transport or carpool). Here we’ll cover each of these options.
Car park management software can be used to optimise and share your parking space. Instead of allocated car parks sitting empty when the owner is away from the office, software like Parkable enables the sharing of those parks among the team. For those without an allocated park, Parkable makes the car park bookable, so everyone has a fair chance to park onsite.
Parkable’s parking management software includes an admin panel and an app for parkers, plus integrations with EV chargers, access barriers and gates.
Admin teams use the Parkable admin panel to manage the car park. Through the admin panel, administrators can:
Staff use the Parkable app to park. With the app, staff can…
By knowing in advance whether they have a park or not, staff can commute with confidence - and without stress - and plan alternative transport when needed.
Sometimes, you’re using your car park as efficiently as possible, but still have demand for parking that far exceeds your supply. If this is causing problems for your staff and business, it may be worthwhile investing in leasing additional parking space.
A number of Parkable’s clients, including Masterpet in Sydney and European Motor Distributors in Auckland, use Parkable’s marketplace to lease additional parking space for their staff.
If you want to reduce driven commutes to take the pressure off the car park (and lessen your company’s environmental impact), you may want to promote alternative transport. This includes public transport, cycling, running, and walking.
Here are a few steps to follow to make your alternative transport campaign a success:
See how well your initiatives are going by tracking uptake and conducting follow-up surveys. Make adjustments if need be.
Another great way to have less cars coming into work is by introducing a staff carpooling system. Here are a few tips for successful carpooling:
Have we missed anything? We want this ultimate guide to be truly ultimate - so if you have any questions that weren’t covered here, please get in touch!
Verity Credit Union in Seattle launches Parkable for easy-to-manage and fair staff parking
One of the best features of Parkable's parking management software is that it allows companies to make the most efficient use of all of their parking bays - even those assigned to individuals.