People don’t rush back to the offices, a dramatic change of office environment is coming

28.6.2021

Even though people are already tired from the home office, they do not rush back to the corporate offices. On average, approximately 15 % of employees from the IT, customer and business services sector are returning to the offices. Therefore, three of four companies are currently working on modifying lease agreements and optimizing the area of their offices. They plan to reduce the number of desks and also the total office space, and in rebuilding their premises, they emphasize places for meetings, cooperation, and creativity. It follows from a survey by ABSL and the consulting company Colliers.

According to the Microsoft Work Trend Index from March 2021, technology has accelerated the work of employees working from home by up to 50 %. Productivity is rising, but at the same time also feelings of exhaustion and isolation. Even so, people still have no desire to return to the office.

„Already at the beginning of May, we offered employees the opportunity to start using corporate offices again. In the first phase, we made it possible to fill 15 % of the capacity and employees had to reserve in advance space and time they want to spend in the office. In the middle of June we increased the capacity to 50 %, however, up to the present day, only about 15 % of our employees have shown interest in working from the office,” says Jaromír Staroba, director of the ABInBev business services center.

Other companies from the sector have a similar experience. Many companies, especially from the IT sector, have not even announced a return from the home office and continue to recommend working from home until the end of this year.

Employees should decide

According to a survey by ABSL and Colliers, as many as 60 % of companies are convinced that people cannot be forced to return to corporate offices and that they need to decide independently when they will work from the office and when from home. For example, SAP based on the feedback from its people and positive experiences with the quality of remote work decided to introduce flexible working conditions and allow employees to choose the place and time of work according to their individual needs. More than 80 % of workers in SAP`s survey said they would like to combine work from home with work from the office in the future, most often women and recent graduates.

Two out of three companies from business services sector are thinking about changing the office

The year of the pandemic and working from home changed people’s work habits as well as the function of corporate offices. Offices should begin to function as places where employees meet, share information and experience and collaborate, and provide a background for a hybrid way of working. According to 90 % of respondents, this model will remain a common model. “This is one of the reasons why about 70 % of companies are currently reconsidering the lease agreement in connection with the optimization of the area and are investing in changes in layout and technologies to support this new setting. For example, they are investing in new video conferencing tools, interactive digital screens or applications for booking a workplace or a meeting room,” said Jonathan Appleton, director of ABSL, an association that supports companies from the customer, business and IT services sector, in which 120,000 office employees work.

“From classic offices, where everyone had his own dedicated desk, offices are being built focused on spaces where people can meet and collaborate. All equipped with giant screens so that other colleagues who are currently in their home office can join the meetings online,” adds Jonathan Appleton.

The change needs to be properly communicated

However, companies that have adapted their offices to new models need to prepare their employees well for these changes. „In companies, it is often forgotten that employees are basically out of the office for a year. Offices meant for them the certainty of returning to the same place almost every day, among colleagues they mostly knew intimately,“ says Jana Vlková from Colliers consulting company and adds:

„Now they will return to an environment that they don’t know, where they have to work and communicate differently, use new technologies and every day sit next to someone else. And this is a big interference into the settings and habits of many employees, therefore it is necessary to communicate this change intensively before returning to the offices.“

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