First come first served parking is a popular parking management policy for employers. According to’s The State of Employee Parking 2021, 27.6% of businesses use this approach.

However, it can be very troublesome. In this blog we are going to look at some of the common issues and how to solve them.

Why do companies choose first come, first served?

Firstly it is important to understand why companies choose this parking policy. There are a couple of reasons.

Primarily, first come, first served is popular for companies where parking is an afterthought. It kind of comes into being as opposed to being a conscious decision. It is the easiest parking policy to defend as it seemingly promotes equality of access.

In other cases, it comes down to legacy and business. Early in their journey, companies have plenty of space to cover all employees. They operate the space on a first come, first served basis. As the company grows or moves location the parking pressures can change.

Want to learn more about different types of employee parking policy check out our comprehensive blog – 6 popular types of employee parking policy.

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Is first come, first served parking a good parking policy?

First come, first served parking is the most troublesome approach to employee parking. This may come as a surprise to some people. However, it has major commercial, environmental and human drawbacks.

How first come, first served can burn resources

Let’s start by looking at the commercial. Many companies run first come, first serve parking for years with no issues. This is because they have a surplus of space. On the face of things this doesn’t sound like a bad problem to have.

Who is paying for the surplus space? You are.

If you had large swathes of empty space in your office would you be happy? No.

You would look to renegotiate your lease, sublet or source alternative and more appropriate offices. Parking is no different, if you have lots of empty space on a daily basis, you are wasting resource.

Ever wonder how much underused parking actually costs your business? Check out this blog – The Hidden Costs of Office Parking

“Reducing parking waste can be tough. Everyday there are a different number of cars in your parking lot. So how, do you know your sweet spot?”

Leverage softwares like to track your daily occupancy. This will allow you to figure out exactly how many parking spaces are being used on a daily basis. Giving you the insight you need to manage a controlled reduction of parking spaces.

In many cities, parking spaces are being leased for in excess of $3,000 a year. So cutting down on parking waste can free up resource to focus on value adding aspects of your business.

The environmental cost of first come, first served parking

The world is in the throes of a losing battle to reduce car usage. Commuters are among the worst offenders. In the USA alone, 70% of people travel to work in their car alone.

Many companies are starting to realize this and are rolling out ambitious transport programs. These programs are designed to change commuter behavior. With a focus on carpooling, carsharing and other environmentally friendly forms of travel.

What many of these companies fail to recognize is how their parking policy undermines these programs.

First come, first served parking is easily the biggest recruiter of single car occupancy commuters. It is the worst possible parking policy for the environment.

Firstly, it encourages people to drive to work every day. Even in companies where parking supply is limited, employees will drive more frequently. Staff always believe there is a chance of space at work and are happy to run the gauntlet.

For many employees this creates a false economy. For example, lets say a person drives to work everyday hoping to get a space. They only manage to nab a free space twice a week. The other three days a week they pay handsomely to park in the multi-storey car park next door.

In the short-term, human psychology draws them to focusing on the two free days. They see this as a big bonus, a real highlight to the week. That adrenaline rush when you see a free space is golden. They tend to forget about the exorbitant cost of their parking habit.

Secondly, when someone starts a journey without knowing where they will park at the end, the trip takes 6 minutes longer on average. This 6 minutes is spent cruising around looking for somewhere to park.

Think about that 6 minutes at scale. Let’s say you have 100 employees arriving at a car park between 8:30 – 9:00. If they all are spending time cruising around looking for a free space that causes parking chaos, congestion and emissions. These are things which can easily be avoided.

If you are serious about tackling your commuter carbon footprint, first come, first served parking has to go.

Want to learn more about how to reduce dependency on car commuting, check out this blog – The guide to reducing car dependency at work?

Does first come, first served parking keep employees happy?

It might not be the most glitzy or glamorous part of employee retention but commuting matters. 23% of workers have quit a job because of a poor commute.

As a result many employers are keen to provide commuting options that work for their employees. The cost of recruiting and training new staff greatly outweighs the cost of good commuter options. So how can first come, first served parking help in this regard.

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So if you’ve a surplus of space, this parking policy will be widely appreciated. Getting to work will be a lot easier for a lot of staff. If anything the privilege might be taken for granted due to a lack of scarcity.

However, if you’ve got a lack of spaces this is going to become a real battleground. We all know people who work in offices where staff arrive at 6am just to ensure a parking space. Many report sleeping in the car for an extra few hours to avoid sleep deprivation.

This isn’t good for anyone.

There is also an added layer of complexity here. Younger employees close to the office can drive to work easier than colleagues with young families who live in suburban environments.

So a recent grad who lives 1km away can roll out of bed and see the rain. They can decide to jump in the car to avoid getting wet. They hit the office at 8am to guarantee a space.

Then you have a middle manager who lives 20km away. They have to do the school run every morning so the earliest they can get to work is 8:45am. Yet, the car park is full most days at this time. As a result they have to park offsite which is expensive.

It’s easy to see how this becomes a problem for companies. Companies need to keep their most valuable employees happy. How you manage your car park has a key role to play in that conundrum.

What are the alternatives to first come, first served parking policy?

We’ve looked at this exact question in detail in this blog.

For a long time, managing employee parking has been a real challenge. There is no gold standard, no guidebook. This has led many companies to flawed policies like first come, first served. They didn’t really see any other options. has changed this. Having emerged as the world’s leading employee parking management software, makes optimizing office parking easy.

Employers can now bring complexity and detail to managing their park which they previously couldn’t imagine. The best bit is that it is all totally automated meaning that companies don’t have to worry about employee parking at all any more.

In just a few minutes, employers can automate all aspects of employee parking management. Staff can book spaces, check real-time availability. Admin staff can book spaces for guests and security or admin staff can automate management of parking violations.

If you are looking to move away from first come, first served parking policy, your first port of call should be

Configure the software easily to manage your car park exactly as you’d like and let handle the rest.

Join industry leaders from companies like Sanofi, & CBRE, schedule a demo with today and solve your parking problems in the click of a button.

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