Workplace: Making the office a more welcoming place


From gyms and wellness spaces to concierge services and local food services, lifestyle perks are a major trend in the workplace today. Photo:

The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly changed the relationship we have with the places we work. Many employees are reluctant to return to the office full-time, after having experienced working from home.

But that trend is changing, according to a new report from the Gensler Research Institute. The research firm surveyed more than 2,000 US employees in 10 different industries about their use of their company’s workspaces.

After sampling a life of remote work, many are reluctant to go back to sitting in an open-plan office every day to complete their assignments. They would rather try flexible working spaces, digital nomadism or even “workcations” – these new ways of working that focus on flexibility. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to come back to the office from time to time.

The Gensler Research Institute survey reveals that 48% of employees believe that the office is the ideal place to be efficient and productive. However, studies have shown that it is also a place of constant disruption, between the often seemingly endless meetings, the ambient noise, and the various requests and interruptions from colleagues.

In comparison, only 36% of employees return to the office with the aim of socialising. This figure is all the more surprising given that the pandemic led many managers to present the company’s premises not as a place of productivity, but of interaction and conviviality.

The office as a hybrid space

From wellness spaces and gyms to concierge services and local food services, lifestyle perks are a major trend in the workplace today. However, this trend is more in line with the expectations of Generations Y (the so-called Millennials) and Z, than older workers.

“While younger generations have a clear preference for hospitality-focused experiences, older workers prefer a blend of corporate and hospitality-focused experiences,” reads the report from the Gensler Research Institute.

Despite this generation gap, the majority of employees surveyed want their office to adapt to their needs, not the other way around. They want quiet work spaces to focus on difficult tasks, but also rooms where they can meet with colleagues, outdoor space, and even a nap room.

If their company’s premises meet these diverse needs, employees are perfectly willing to work there more often. For example, 42% of respondents would be willing to come in one extra day a week if the office offered a variety of experiences. One in five would even consider coming back full-time.

For Janet Pogue McLaurin, Global Director Workplace Research at Gensler, it is essential for managers to be aware of the great versatility that their premises must offer, if they want their employees to come back with enthusiasm.

“The data illustrates that employees are looking for offices that are both effective in supporting their ability to focus on their work and offer a more desirable mix of experiences,” she said in a news release.

“Understanding how workers spend their time and what experiences and work settings they need to perform best is critical for business performance and employee engagement.” – AFP Relaxnews

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