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More workers use less space

The shift to new office practices such as hot desking and neighbourhood sections has reduced the actual space per employee across a majority of city-based businesses.

The density of workplaces has come as space is taken up by staff lockers to store laptops and essential documents. It's a more efficient way to run a business and allows a business to massage the office space with more private meeting rooms and relaxation facilities for staff.

Jones Lang LaSalle's director of research and author of a report, Activity Based Working: Impact on the Sydney CBD Office Market, with the Property Council of Australia's NSW Division, Leigh Warner, says the potential benefits of ABW are greater for larger organisations, while particular industries - including finance, insurance and real estate services - have shown a propensity to adopt ABW. In the largest survey of its kind in Australia, more than 20 City of Sydney representatives also spent nine months measuring nearly 700,000 work and other spaces in the city's 10 villages. According to the City Of Sydney Council, the staff tracked Sydney's changing businesses, finding out how many jobs were created in different industries, and how much space workers use.

The survey, done every five years, provides a vast amount of information to help the city plan business growth.

The results of the Floor Space and Employment Survey show the number of jobs in the city has jumped 13.6 per cent in the past five years. At the same time, the average amount of space for the 437,727 workers fell from 41.5 square metres per person in 2007, to 37.9 sq m in 2012, a drop of 8.7 per cent.

In the city centre, the fall was lower, with workers now having an average of 27.4 sq m per person, a 2.5 per cent drop from the average of 28.1 sq m five years ago.

Head of research at the City of Sydney, Steven Hillier, said the increasing density of many workplaces had accelerated due to the global financial crisis, as many firms were under economic pressure."Businesses can get long-term cost reductions by using space more intensively and this is part of a worldwide trend where increasing costs of floor space in city centres leads to work spaces being used more efficiently and strategically.

"More than 80 per cent of the city's workforce is located in office spaces. Our figures show that the proportion of open plan office space is continuing to increase."

Across the City of Sydney area, intensification of the workplace increased in 15 of the 19 different industry sectors. In the city centre, which includes new buildings such as the Darling Quarter, home to the Commonwealth Bank, workers in the same sector had a slight increase in space from 21.9 sq m to 22.5 sq m.