No, the Office Is Not Dead

Image credit: iStockphoto/RomoloTavani

When the pandemic came, people felt that it would be the end of offices.

A year and a half later, offices are still here. Employees want to come to the office as they begin to appreciate the collaboration, the face-to-face meetups, and time away from their spouses and children.

But there is a big difference: post-pandemic employees want to work in the office on their terms. Nearly nine out of 10 workers want to have the option to work remotely once offices reopen, according to new findings from OpenSensors, a technology company that provides data-driven workplace transformation solutions.

In fact, real estate may increase. A report from OpenSensors, a technology company that provides data-driven workplace transformation solutions, cited 47% of respondents saying that they expected their companies’ real estate portfolio to increase due to COVID-19. Only a third said it would reduce.

This increase in real estate can be attributed to workforce flexibility and social distancing. But having more space is not enough. In the report, 88% of respondents shared that they were changing office layouts. And more than half of respondents were changing office setups by increasing collaboration space and adding bookable seats, with 44% also adding booking systems.

The main driver is hybrid working, where employees spend part of their time in the office, and the rest either at home or elsewhere is on the rise. EY has become one of the latest significant employers to say its 17,000 staff must work from home at least part of the time, while the 3,000 employees of fintech banking app Revolut were told in March 2021 that they could choose to be fully remote if they wish as well as spend up to 60 days abroad each year.

Those employees opting to come in have specific new demands.

Aside from the adequate provision of PPE, another popular factor cited is air quality. One in two said that monitoring air quality and adding air filters had the most significant impact, for example.

“Companies need to figure out how to use their real estate better. The demand for flexible working too often overlooks that many employees want to return, at least in part to the office but, crucially, they expect to see changes in the environment of office life,” said Yodit Stanton, chief executive officer and founder of OpenSensors.

“What’s clear is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for the optimal workplace setup. Companies need new information and insights to support their office and team. Now is the start of a new era of the data-driven office to help companies and employees find the right setup and balance.”

Image credit: iStockphoto/RomoloTavani