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Workspace layout: how do employees want to work in the future?

Over recent months, the pandemic has brought about a seismic change in our way of life and working. 

Workers adapted to working from home adhering to the health and safety directives and consequently have developed an appetite for greater flexibility and new hybrid working models. 
Workers are experiencing increasing virtual meeting fatigue or burnout, and there is a growing desire to return to the office for the majority of their time. This suggests that offices will be more important than ever as the centre of the work ecosystem and that exceptional office environments will remain an essential means of engaging and retaining employees. 
But how do employees want to work in the future?

Let’s look at the 7 key takeaways:

1. Finding the optimum work/life balance is the new priority for employees, far ahead of the salary.

Working from home has been such a revolution that employees are focused on its advantages and tend to be less affected by the porosity between their professional and personal worlds. They expect their employer to incorporate greater flexibility in the salary package offered: 88% would like to have flexible working hours in the future. With this in mind, a rethink has been required in terms of the layout of workspaces, as well as arrangements for employees’ home offices.

2. Hybrid working has made great inroads: traditional workspaces have lost ground

The pandemic has facilitated adoption through experimentation: the more people work from home, the more they want to do it in future. Employees follow global trends, with the ideal model being 2 days remote working per week, split over 1.5 days at home and 0.5 in third-party spaces.

3. It’s not about time management, it’s more about social interaction

Employees miss the social aspect of the office. What they miss most about in-person working, in the office, is the informal interactions and face-to-face collaboration. 61% of employees are keen for “real” human interactions with their colleagues. 
To do this, the layout of workspaces needs to be adapted. An increasing number of office spaces are open plan. Very few workers want an individual office. Open Plan offices are arranged with office furniture designed to facilitate interactions between colleagues without hindering work. Meeting rooms are provided for teams to gather together. We are seeing a renaissance in the layout of offices, and the work environment is being reworked to promote well-being in the workplace. 

4. Working from home long-term takes a heavy toll on social and mental well-being

Employee sense of fulfilment is in decline, they are also overwhelmed in terms of mental load: 51% are disillusioned and 44% report being overworked, with too many personal and professional responsibilities. The parents of young children and people living alone are most exposed. Companies are now, more than ever, being held responsible for the health of their employees: their physical health of course, but also their social and mental health.

 5. Remote productivity is in decline

While the performance of employees working from home remains high, 43% of them report being more productive at home than in the office, this figure has decreased since the first lockdown, when 52% reported being more productive at home.

6. Employees have higher expectations of their companies who need to adapt their offices accordingly

While employees report their need to return to the office to reconnect with their community, they are also much more critical about their regular place of work. Just 48% are satisfied with their regular place of work (compared to 60% in April 2020) and only 36% say they miss their office (compared to 46% in April 2020).

7. Employers need to improve the work experience in order to elicit the desire to return to the office

The happier employees are with their office, the more they miss it. 69% of those who are very happy with their work environment miss it, compared to just 5% of those who aren’t very happy now. Employees expect their employers to offer them completely redesigned workspace layout, taking into account the human aspect, well-being and the environment. They also seek offices connected to nature and equipped with digital tools.

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