The Workplace is Changing - is Your Business Ready?

workplace changes

For many office-based businesses, COVID-19 has created more questions than answers. However, amidst the uncertainty of the post-pandemic workplace, two points stand clear: 

  • The office isn’t dead - it’s evolving
  • Businesses need to cater to these changes - or risk losing talent to their competitors

To discuss this topic in more detail and help our customers prepare for the months ahead, we teamed up with commercial real-estate expert Kate Smith at CBRE, who shared valuable insight into the areas you need to start preparing for. Read on to find out more. 


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The significant changes set to impact your office

Aside from ongoing technological improvements and the addition of beanbag-clad breakout areas, offices haven’t developed much in the past 50 years.

That all changed in March 2020.

Seemingly out of nowhere, we first encountered a global crisis that became the catalyst for several key changes:


1. Remote working is here to stay

A recent employee survey carried out by CBRE found that the average working from home time pre-COVID was around 1.2 days. 

However, post-COVID, the desire to work from home has over doubled to 2.7 days per week. That’s a significant shift.

It’s undeniable - remote working is here to stay, and it’s no longer seen as a perk - it’s an expectation. Your talent wants it, and if you’re not prepared to offer it, your competitors will. 


2. The office is here to stay, too

Some roles, such as IT and maintenance, might necessitate travelling into the office every day, but CBRE’s research shows those aren’t the only employees who’ll be sticking with the daily commute. 

“Both our surveys and clients are reporting that younger generations are keen to return to the office,” Kate says.

“This could be due to a lack of home office access, they could live in shared accommodation, or they may well miss the on-the-job learning and social aspects the office has to offer.”

So, office space can’t simply be scrapped. It needs to be operated in tandem with any remote working plans, remaining ready for when it’s needed. 


3. Space allocations will favour “we space” over “me space”

Workplace requirements aren’t the only things set to change with the office - our utilisation of the space is set for a dramatic shift, too. 

If your teams are going to be working remotely more than half of the week and only commuting in for collaboration, team activities and events, the classical cubicle structure is no longer fit for purpose. 

Your office needs to be reinvented to take the focus off of “me” space and place it firmly on “we” space. 

"It won’t always be possible to carry out all focus work at home and all collaborative work in the office,” says Kate.

“As a result, it’s wise to keep a healthy mix of both. This isn’t the ‘death of the desk’, but desk sharing scenarios are likely to become more prominent.”


4. Conferencing will adapt to “mixed presence” collaboration

Collaboration was easy when everyone was in the office, and businesses quickly adapted to online-only conference calling, too. However, when single-channel conferencing switches to ‘mixed presence’ collaboration, how can your office adapt to cope?

“We don’t want the experience for those joining meetings remotely to feel second-class”, says Kate. “So there’s a lot of focus on how we can create a great meeting experience.”


5. Amenities strategies will focus on hospitality and services

Changing the overarching purpose of your office? Your amenities, services and facilities management support model needs to change, too. 

Once you understand your workplace, your strategy and your workforce strategy, you need to consider what it means for operating the building and providing different services.

If employees are set to be using your office space differently, you’ll likely need to adapt your service frequency and amenities. 

Want the full picture? Read the rest of CBRE’s top 10 workplace changes here


Adapting to the challenges of remote working

Whilst many companies have smoothly transitioned to remote working in the short-term, long-term out-of-office employment poses greater challenges. 

Increased productivity comes at the cost of work-life balance 

Increased work performance might look good on paper, but in reality, it’s not because teams are working better - it’s because they’re working longer hours.

The average work-from-home employee is dedicating an extra 1-2 hours of their day to work, reporting a noticeable drop in work-life balance - something particularly important as the lines between personal and professional space blur.  

If you’re offering flexible and remote working plans to your teams, be sure to help them draw a clear line between workspace and leisure space. 


Company culture and employee engagement suffer

Despite enjoying the flexibility of working from home, Kate’s research has shown that culture and engagement have suffered as a result.

As employee engagement drops, churn rises. So, as more and more companies transition to the work-from-home model, this isn’t an issue that can be ignored.


4 emerging trends that will impact the way we work

The office might only just be adapting, but more emerging trends lie on the horizon.

In our webinar, Kate Smith also raises several key disruption-signalling trends that businesses need to plan for. 


1. Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) is on the rise

ESG is a set of criteria that investors use to quantify the social and environmental impact of an investment in a company, and its uptake is increasing. 

As more investors start to factor ESG into their portfolio choices, the cost of occupancy for office-based companies will rise as they race to make their businesses more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 


2. ‘Hotelification’ is gaining ground

Your teams have spent an extended period working from the comfort of their homes. If you want them to come back to the office, you’ve got to create a magnetic experience that draws them in. 

Your office needs to stop being a work centre and transition into an engaging, collaborative environment that adds value to the roles your team members perform. So, shift away from the corporate standard and create spaces that people love to come and work in. 


3. Flexibility is the focus with on-demand real estate

With the increased volume of remote working, businesses are using the boost in workplace flexibility to make the space they have work harder.

As a result, you should expect to see a rising trend of businesses opting for flexible, on-demand office space as opposed to fixed locations. 


4. Portfolio compression

As businesses emerge from the impact of the pandemic, cost remains a key factor. 

Coupled with the declining requirement for fixed office space, it’s anticipated that companies will take advantage of flexible and remote working by consolidating their real estate portfolios.


Are you prepared for the changes to come? 


Download our 12 Key Pillars of Talent Acquisition guide for actionable information on how to adapt your business. 





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