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When Employees Return What Do They Want In A Workspace?

August 3, 2022

Collaboration space? Social functions? Coffee? You might be surprised....

Big questions loom for corporations, organizations, and their employees about the return to the office during this pandemic-induced period of transition.

  • What will it look like?
  • Who will be there?
  • What will draw us to it?
  • What do employees want?
  • What do they need to do their best in this coming post-remote work world?

We’ve lived with work from home for more than 12 months now. But, with vaccination rollouts and safety protocols in place, many workers are returning to the office. Experts in the workplace design world and the commercial real estate community are predicting that broad adoption of the hybrid workplace model (allowing a mix of work from home and work from the office) is likely.

This would result in a decline in the need for office space and a changing role for the office space that remains.

But, in fact, these predictions are mostly conjecture based on a mass remote-working experiment. To understand where the office is headed, we need to find out what office users—the employees—really wants from their workplace. What are they missing with work from home?

If given the option to work in the office, what will bring them back? This is important because research shows workplace satisfaction benefits not only the employee but directly contributes to company performance.

In short:

1) Employees want variety, and they want informal space to be available.

2) Employees want to maintain "me" space in their office

Employees are anticipating a return to the office. Eighty-nine percent of survey respondents indicated they want to come back to the office but only part-time. Ninety-five percent expect their company to allow some degree of flexibility to work outside the office in the future, and 24% anticipate they may work elsewhere more than half of the week. And 78% said that the work-from-home experience of the past year will change the way they use the office in the future.

When I return to the office, the ideal workspace would provide....? by raking options of space types for individual work, collaborative work, and social connections. After reading the headlines about forecast reductions in office space due to the adoption of hybrid work the question has surprising outcomes of expectations to work outside the home office.

  1. Place for individual work was number one choice by 75% of respondents
  2. A desk of my own by 33%
  3. Collaboration spaces 11%. This indicated that many don't embrace hoteling or desk sharing with their increased flexibility. Social spaces lead second choice options, followed by collaboration spaces.

It’s interesting to consider why individuals would hold so tightly to a desk. It could be a lack of vision for how a future office may function. Perhaps they haven’t considered how the “need” might be met in alternative ways. But maybe it’s not about functional necessity but more about a subconscious longing for a sense of connection to place, or the ability to claim individual territory within a larger context.

But we need to remember that for some, the office is still a place for solo work. And many employees continue to expect a dedicated desk when they arrive. Organizations may look to solutions such as a user-friendly reservation system for desk and office assignments along with scheduled hygiene/cleaning protocols.

With these requirements in mind coworking spaces in Denver South fit the bill nicely. We offer dedicated desks in a social environment. We offer flexibility to support changing work styles. Last we offer corporate users the guarantee of a clean and well-maintained workspace without them having to look over the shoulders of their employees or managing remote workspace from afar.