29 September 2021

Five Things to Know About the Future of the Office

As we’re all well aware of by now, the office has been irrevocably changed by Covid-19. Now the pipe dream of remote work has become a reality for many workers, and office spaces are being used in entirely new ways. Gone are the days of coming to work with a cold and having to show that you were completely incapacitated to stay at home with your laptop.

Now, the future of the office looks a lot different. But what exactly has changed for this crucial working space? Here are five of the most important and up-to-date things you need to know about the future of the office.

Cultures have shifted in different ways

While remote working has been accepted globally, a CBRE study has revealed that regions are approaching it in different ways. In Asia-Pacific, employees who used to work in the office daily are actually being asked by employers to work remotely at least one or two days per month. Employees in this region also seem less keen on a split between home and office working; 26% and 37% say they’d be keen on working fully in the office and mostly remotely, while 21% say they’d like to be fully remote. Just 17% would like to have an equal split.

In EMEA and the US, the percentages of people who want a mixture of settings are much higher. Around 32% in both regions would vote for an equal mix, while 38% and 35% respectively would like to be mostly in the office. Where they do differ, however, is in their approach to fully remote roles. Only 8% of those surveyed in the US would like to go fully or mostly remote, while 16% of EMEA respondents like the sound of it.

The office is essential

As we’ve mentioned in our previous articles, there’s one thing most of us can agree on: some kind of dedicated workspace, like office premises, is essential for at least some work tasks. A PwC survey, which asked 100 executives and 1,200 employees for their thoughts, has found that 87% of people believe the office plays a vital part in collaboration and building team relationships.

One thing that is likely to change will be how the office is used. The CBRE study found that regions will use workplaces differently, with the biggest attitude gulf appearing on the topics of dedicated seats and activity-based work.

In Asia, 48% of those surveyed would like to keep dedicated seats in the office, while just 23% of EMEA respondents were married to the idea. Activity-based work, where the office space would be reserved for activities like meetings and brainstorms, was similarly divisive. 36% of EMEA residents would like to embrace this approach, compared to only 16% of Americans and 13% in APAC.

Small businesses are taking a different approach

While large and multi-national businesses have been hesitant to properly return to the office, with many fully embracing hybrid work, small businesses have been less likely to do so. CRBE says that “worldwide, small firms are disproportionately planning to return full-time to the office and [are] unlikely to favour an equal mix of in-office and virtual work”.

This reluctance could be because small firms are likely to place more importance on relationships and intimate interaction. Large firms, comparatively, are likely to have in-built digital infrastructure that makes it easier to maintain and build connections online. Even with tools that any business can use - such as Slack, Trello and Asana - it seems not all are willing to make the leap.

But many believe that companies will have to embrace remote working as a non-negotiable sooner or later. USA Today has reported that 30% of white-collar employees would leave their jobs if their employer refused remote or flexible working patterns.

Opening more smaller offices

Lots of companies are now embracing a ‘hub and spoke’ approach to their office premises. Rather than calling all employees into central hubs, which often involve long, arduous commutes, they’re now establishing local centres. This has been reflected in the fact that many respondents say their office portfolio is actually going to increase long term – a far cry from predictions at the beginning of the pandemic.

In Asia-Pacific, 50% of office tenants believe they’re going to increase their portfolio in the next 10 years. The percentage is smaller in EMEA, with around a third believing they’re going to expand, but it is still a significant proportion of the market. And if employees can access the benefits of the office - such as having a dedicated workspace away from the chaos and unproductivity of home - without the endless commute, everyone’s a winner.

A collaborative future

During the last two years, there’s been a lot of discussion about the changing role of the office. Public opinion has bounced from declaring offices a thing of the past to craving time in the office and has now settled somewhere in the middle.

The consensus now is that the office has an important role to play in our professional lives, but that it’s not a place for concentrated solo work. Instead, it will add the most value in being a collaborative space, where people can have the conversations, brainstorms and discussions in an environment that lagging video calls struggle to replicate.

If you’re looking for a new office space, you’ll find lots of options right here at Realla. Narrow down your search by property type, location and budget and locate the ideal office for your business.