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What do office workers want? it’s not what you think

As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to ease around the world, more and more companies are taking temporary steps towards normalcy. Some are dropping indoor mask requirements for vaccinated employees. Some, such as Microsoft, are setting hard dates when they expect most of their employees to be back in the office. But much of the debate around the office sector for the past two years has centered around infection prevention and the merits of in-person versus in-person. Remote work, relatively little attention was being given to what white-collar workers wanted once they were back in the office. Much of the push on the corporate possession side has been toward the same trends that dominated pre-pandemic set-ups, with an emphasis on collaboration through “shared” locations, hybrid work schedules and saving money in the name of flexibility. Reducing office footprints. Features like desk booking. But is this what most employees want from the office? We looked at some recent surveys to find out.

Office is still important

“The pandemic has caused fundamental changes not only in the way we work, but in our expectations,” says Janet Pogue, a lead and global workplace research leader at global design firm Gensler. “Our priorities have changed, and we have a new awareness and appreciation of how we spend our time, how we work best and what experiences we want to have.”

Gensler’s research indicates that working from home during the pandemic has increased the value and relevance of the office, with employees wanting to return to the office full time or for part of the week. “Across 11 different Gensler surveys of office workers, the primary purpose of the office has been pretty consistent: People want to come to the office to collaborate with their team or colleagues,” Pogue says.

In addition, the office remains important for employees to access specific locations, materials, and resources. Even during this winter’s Omicron boom, Gensler’s survey reported a 31 percent increase in the number of people wanting to return to office. 25 percent in the summer of 2021 during the early stages of the Delta version.

In fact, the results of Gensler’s Winter 2021 survey, which included 2,364 US office workers, showed that 80 percent of respondents had already reported visiting their company’s offices during the pandemic. When asked which features make them comfortable going back to the office, 80 percent cited indoor air filtration systems, 74 percent cited access to more private spaces and 65 percent cited vaccination requirements . Sixty-five and 61 percent cited operable windows and outdoor workspaces, respectively. “More collaborative space” didn’t make the features list top of employees’ priorities.

Pogue notes that in pre-pandemic surveys, workers’ preference for more private space was already increasing, so it is now more important than ever to re-think the mix of spaces and the varying degrees of openness of the layout in the office. Is.

Pay attention to health and hygiene

A workforce barometer survey by commercial real estate services firm JLL, which included 3,368 participants from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia, found that health and quality of life are among the top priorities for office workers today.

According to Peter Miskovic, managing director of strategy + innovation at JLL, these priorities may now be as important to employees as the level of financial compensation the company offers them. “Focusing on wellness in the workplace has become not only a good thing to do, but a need to keep employees safe and healthy and enhance human performance,” he notes.

In the JLL survey, 75 percent of respondents expect a workplace that employs health and safety measures that include clean-air filtration systems, “contactless” technologies, operable windows that can be opened and LED lighting. ‚ÄúThese are not new concepts, but workers are now demanding these workplace health and wellness ideas, and landlords and tenants are taking a very serious look at making new workplace health and wellness investments to remain competitive. Miskovic says.

In addition, JLL research shows that 37 percent of workers cited a less dense work environment, 33 percent cited physical space separation in the office and 25 percent as being important to them in the post-pandemic environment. I did not share any desk.

Office workers want privacy

A survey by office furnishing giant Steelcase, which asked nearly 5,000 office workers about their preferences and concerns upon returning to the office, also revealed a major push for more privacy in the office, with 55 percent Respondents said they, for one, would trade remote workdays. Assigned workstation to the office. And 42 percent said whether they had a fixed desk would strongly influence whether they choose to work in the office or remotely on any given day. (In fact, the survey found that those who said they preferred to work remotely more than three days a week were also significantly more likely to say they would leave the company in the next six months).

This suggests that while workers appreciate the autonomy and flexibility of hybrid work, they are also seeking a sense of choice and belonging, says Chris Congdon, director of global research communications at Steelcase. He notes that there is a gap between what employers think office workers want and what they really want.

In the midst of a trend called The Great Regeneration, “the ability to work remotely and compensate is incredibly important, but our research shows that employees also want to feel a sense of belonging, which has a bearing on culture, connectedness, productivity, and retention.” Congdon says, adding that this should be an important consideration for organizations redesigning their workplaces.

Employers should not assume that people will only want to come to the office to cooperate, he warned. “They will also need places where they can focus and do individual work.” When assigned workstations aren’t offered, notes Congdon, movable screens can be quickly and easily adapted to provide territorial and visual privacy.

Like other sources, Steelcase Research shows that office workers based in the US point to air quality as their number one priority for office work. Adherence to safety protocols is second, facility cleanliness is third, physical boundaries are fourth and the density of workers within the office is fifth. The availability of informal gathering areas ranked eighth, behind safe access to food and beverages.

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