Guest post by Jeremy Zuker, Co-Founder, WhereiPark

Over the past few weeks, smart parking has grown in popularity as stories of Ford’s self-parking cars dominate headlines of technology news. With parking considered to be an extremely stressful and time consuming activity — 63 percent of surveyed drivers admitted to avoiding certain destinations due to parking challenges — the idea of being able to step out of your car and let technology do the work is extremely appealing. Yet, while it’s entirely true that smart parking is the future of the industry — with the market expected to reach $19.25 billion by 2028 — self-parking cars may still be a little far away. Until then, other smart parking and driving techniques may need to be employed.

With trust in public transit down, car purchases surged during the pandemic as individuals looked for alternate ways to commute and travel. In New York City, a place famous for not needing a car, vehicle registrations in June and July 2020 were up 18 percent from the same period the previous year. Now, as we return to work, offices are looking at the mass arrival of commuters and wondering what they’re supposed to do with all these additional vehicles. Employing new technologies and strategies can help ease the supply shortages that commercial real estate is facing.

Invest in Smart Technology

Smart technology can mean different things to different people. It can mean investing in AI and robotics to improve automation and efficiency. It can also mean investing in technology that’s smart for your businesses: technology that is simple to implement and use, plus provides immediate value to both you and your customers. When looking at the return to work, employees and commercial properties will want parking technologies that help lessen commuters worries and save time.

For employees returning to work, they’ll want technologies and apps that help them sign up for monthly parking passes and monitor capacity in parking garages, enabling them to find a space before they even arrive at the office. They’ll also want touchless solutions to pay for spaces. Using a parking management company that leverages digital technologies and personal devices to make parking seamless and efficient can reduce wasted time for commuters and for building personnel. Instead of relying on the building’s manager to set up monthly parking passes and ensure that there are sufficient parking spaces for all employees, parking management companies can do it all for the building.

Partner Up

Having community support helped many get through the pandemic, and moving forward, it can be employed to ease the burden of parking. Partnering up can be a two-fold approach. First, commercial property owners can partner with buildings and parking lots in the area that aren’t experiencing a supply shortage. Arenas and event venues are most used on weekends or after work, while their parking spaces are sitting empty during the typical workday. This results in an inefficient use of space. By partnering with nearby buildings, corporate offices can use the extra parking to provide additional spaces to employees in their building during the workweek, helping with the supply shortage.

Second, allowing employees who are still using hybrid working models to partner with co-workers on parking passes can ease the supply problem while improving revenue. As employees return to work, many are opting for hybrid working models where they only work from the office a few days a week. These employees won’t want to pay for a five-day parking pass and will likely opt for finding daily parking passes to reduce their expenses. But if your building allows for shared parking passes — where employees can share spaces with co-workers who are on a different schedule — it can reduce costs and encourage them to use the building’s office spaces, increasing your revenue.

Employ Dynamic Pricing

Although the nine-to-five workday used to be the norm, changing work demands and reduced building capacities may result in employees working later or on weekends. Using dynamic pricing models can help ease the pains of working late. Dynamic pricing means adjusting pricing models based on certain factors, such as time of day or day of the week. Prime time parking — which would be Monday through Friday from nine to five — would be higher than after work hours or weekends. This reduces the burden for those who are working late, or for maintenance workers and cleaners that do their jobs in off-peak hours.

With the EV market expected to surge — and Biden hoping that, by 2030, half of all new vehicles sold will be electric — another dynamic parking model can leverage those who make the shift. Implementing EV charging stations in office parking garages is now almost a must-have, as we see chargers popping up in airports and public parking lots. By adding these to your corporate parking garage and allowing employees the opportunity to exclusively rent parking spaces with EV chargers, office buildings can price spaces in accordance with the presence or absence of EV charging capabilities. Dynamic pricing models could help pay for the chargers, and individuals are likely to pay more for the ability to charge their car while they work.

Greener, Smarter Parking

Searching for parking is a challenge in cities, with Americans spending an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking in urban settings. This number doesn’t just contribute to wasted time and money — placing a dollar value on it, drivers spend an average of $345 per year simply searching for parking — it also results in wasted fuel and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. With a wave of new vehicles on the road, these staggering figures are only expected to rise. And as we begin to prioritize environmental sustainability, the increase of cars and time spent on parking will quickly add up.

Corporate real estate should start looking at these issues as they consider employees who are returning to work. Over the past 18 months, employees haven’t needed to worry about once-common issues that come with commuting. As they return to the office, these problems will only increase their frustration. Smarter parking techniques can not only help buildings recoup losses and improve their environmental impact, but they can also reduce the burden that comes with commuting. And solutions don’t have to be high-tech or complicated. The solutions that will carry us forward are simple, effective, and efficient to implement.

About the Author:

Jeremy Zuker is the co-founder of WhereiPark, a technology company that enables multifamily residential and commercial property owners to discover new revenue sources through innovative solutions that leverage unused parking spaces.