The office is ‘critical’ but changing shape, real estate

Dive Brief:

  • While 72% of respondents in a JLL survey said the office is “critical to doing business,” its look may be changing, according to the JLL Future of Work report released Aug. 18.
  • Seventy-seven percent of commercial real estate leaders said that offering remote and hybrid work will be key to finding and retaining talent in the future. As such, 43% of companies surveyed said they plan to “accelerate investment in flexible space” between now and 2025, and 51% said they will lease space from a third-party provider.
  • To align with a new world of work, 73% of respondents said they have planned or are planning to make office spaces more open and collaborative with no dedicated desk spaces.

Dive Insight:

Office space planning may be shifting in part because employees — at least in some areas — just aren’t coming in, surveys have shown.

According to a report from Advanced Workplace Associations, three-quarters of desks in offices are going unused most of the time. Even companies that mandate in-office time are not seeing office usage, AWA said, and organizations that mandate two days in the office only see employees in-office an average of 1.1 days per week. Even during busy times, the office is still more than half empty, according to AWA’s index.

Employers are warming up to all aspects of hybrid work, Robert Half data from earlier this year suggested. But employees may push back against fully collaborative office spaces. According to Robert Half, 16% of office commuters said they work best in a collaborative space, compared to 43% who said they work best in a private one.

Notably, even CEOs have rejected aspects of office life in recent months, citing increased productivity and reduced stress in working from home. But other studies have shown the office can be a center for connection and morale-boosting — in part because employees may miss seeing and interacting with their co-workers on a daily basis.

That’s why experts have previously told HR Dive that employers should consider the office one tool among many in their arsenal when it comes to employee engagement.