Office of the Future Revisited: 3 New Realities Shaping Hybrid Workplace

Posted on
Jun 24, 2022
ATSI Content Team
ATSI Content Team
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Global real estate service firm Cushman & Wakefield updated their “Office of the Future” white paper, highlighting three new realities shaping hybrid workplace strategies.

“Since our publication of “Workplace Ecosystems of the Future” in early 2021, much of the world finds itself in a different place relative to the global pandemic,” says the authors of “Office of the Future Revisited”. “Variants continue to impact communities—certainly no one has declared victory. Still, in many locations, life looks and feels closer to life before 2020.”

The study reports on employees’ thoughts on returning to work; the need for flexible office workspaces; and increased demand for space in office-using industries.

Three New Workplace Realities with Significant Implications

The report looks at three new realities that have significant implications as organizations experience and develop new workplace strategies:

  • Reality No. 1: Demand for office space is accelerating. An improving economy paired with strong office-use employment growth is driving office space demand.
  • Reality No. 2: Organizations must accept that hybrid work is here to stay.
  • Reality No. 3: The role of the office has changed.

“This report aligns with a couple of key industry trends,” said David Smith, Global Head of Occupier Insights at Cushman & Wakefield and co-author of the report. “First, the majority of global office workers prefer a hybrid working arrangement, and many companies that have made decisions are currently planning on hybrid, agile work environments. More are expected to go in this direction as leases expire. Second, despite the work-from-home rhetoric, market data shows office leasing volumes are surging back, up 41 percent in the U.S. on a 12-month trailing basis compared to a year ago. To a degree, we believe the hybrid solution is galvanizing the corporate need for office space as the workplace gets reimagined.”

The report also showcases other trends, including industries and geographic areas that have been experiencing growth. Overall, post-pandemic job growth has fared better in industry sectors with jobs that tend to be office-based, such as tech and finance jobs, compared to other sectors of the economy.

What Companies Must Do to Thrive Going Forward

The report predicts that the companies that thrive will be the ones that provide employees the choice of where to work. That could require businesses to walk a fine line.

While many want to have a remote-work option, Cushman & Wakefield data indicates that employees need the office to support their desire to learn, make meaningful cultural connections to their organizations, and to engage more deeply with colleagues.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Experience per Square Foot™ (XSF) survey data shows many employees rate in-office experiences higher than remote work, and the workers who have the most meaningful experiences are the ones who come into the office multiple days a week. Specifically, Millennial and Gen Z workers are more likely than other workers to report a positive employee experience when they frequent the office three to four days a week, the survey found.

“To compete for talent in an environment largely featuring labor shortages, corporate leaders will need to create office environments that inspire employees and draw them in,” said Despina Katsikakis, Global Head of Occupier Business Performance and co-author of the report. “Creating a comfortable workspace that attracts and engages will have to blend home and office environments. Companies should account for physical space, technology, the workplace experience, human and automated interactions, change management and communication strategies, and integrated delivery across the workforce in various locations—in-office, at home and at flexible office locations.”

The purpose of offices is evolving as well as in-demand employees and hybrid work shape the future of workplaces. A survey of real estate executives conducted by Cushman & Wakefield in collaboration with CoreNet Global found 70 percent of respondents identified the office as the center of creativity and innovation and the best place to build company culture.

What the Workplace of the Future Looks Like

Cushman & Wakefield believes that employers that want to thrive must balance a workplace that inspires and motivates employees while improving connectivity among and communication with an agile workforce, ensuring there are opportunities for remote work.

“Companies need to have the right real estate in the right locations with the right experience. It’s a business challenge that requires an integrated approach from real estate, human resources, finance, and technology leadership. No longer can these departments work independently; rather, they need to work cooperatively as the organization defines brand, builds culture, develops and refines HR policies, and creates reputation capital,” said Katsikakis.

The white paper presents three scenarios of how offices might be transformed:

  • Pre-Pandemic Workstyle and Space Allocation: Traditional in-office workstyle with a high percentage dedicated to individual seats.
  • Same Size, Better Experience: Space mix and amenities amplifies the office experience and provides flexibility and choice.
  • Less Space, Better Experience: Reduce core space and leverage the entire ecosystem – home space, local satellite offices, on-demand space and third places. Enables employees to best work in the kind of space that fits the task and enhances work-life balance and well-being.

Asking the Right Questions to Create the Right Workspace

The report says that organizational leaders need to be asking themselves the following questions to design an optimal hybrid solution:

  • What do we need to change about our culture to support hybrid working?
  • Do we have the right technology strategy to ensure equitable connectivity?
  • What policies are in place to support hybrid working?
  • Is leadership ready to advocate for and sponsor our organization’s vision for the future workplace?
  • Is HR, IT, real estate, facilities management, and internal brand aligned in implementation?
  • What are the day-to-day interactions an employee comes into contact with (e.g., events, meetings, reception, etc.) and are they maximizing employee experience?
  • Do we have the right variety of physical places to suit different activities (e.g. individual, collaborative, social, learning activities, etc.)?

Contact ATSI to find out how we can help your organization use technology to implement your workplace of the future.

Topics: Technology Trends, Office Trends