A huge opportunity for the office ahead: the ‘human first’ imperative.

Forced adoption of remote working has created opportunity. It is also exposing new social risk. Workers say they are experiencing an increased amount of virtual fatigue, or burn-out, and are increasingly wanting to get back to the office.

October 14, 2021

Forced adoption of remote working has created opportunities, but it is also exposing new social risks. Workers say they are experiencing an increased amount of virtual fatigue, or burn-out, and are increasingly wanting to get back to the office most of the time. This suggests that offices will be more important now than ever before as the center of the work ecosystem and that outstanding office environments will remain a critical way to engage employees.

Here are some of the key insights from our Global Worker Preferences Barometer survey of over 3,300 office workers from 10 countries and spanning all industries.

  • An outstanding office is the best way to engage your employees. ‘Office nostalgia’ is huge in exceptional offices. To help your employees navigate out of the crisis, your office has a major role to play.

  • As people increasingly miss ‘office life’, homeworking fatigue is growing. In contrast to last October, employees are aspiring to more balanced working patterns.

  • Productivity at home is declining, raising employees’ renewed expectations for the office. ‘Purpose-led offices’ are the new future.

  • Flexibility in working patterns has become a ‘must have’ in the employee package. Work-life balance is now the number one workforce priority, ahead of salary. It is a ‘ratchet effect’ of the pandemic.

  • It’s not only about time management, but also about social interaction. While working from home extensively, people feel stuck in an ‘endless day’ and disconnected.

  • Long-lasting homeworking is hiding a heavy social and mental toll. Workers have higher expectations that companies support their physical, mental and social health.

  • Sociodemographic and household profiles are key determinants of the homeworking experience and workers’ state of mind. Flex-work policies should heavily consider the needs of Gen Z, young parents and caregivers, who are particularly at risk.

From this arises the opportunity to see your lease renewal in a new light. The office will soon become the primary place of work again and the priorities of both your business and employees will change. The months to come will see a ‘flight to quality’, with top employers acknowledging the new workforce expectations through an in-depth rethinking of their approach to work, the workforce and the workplace, while others will continue to ‘wait and see’, not really sure where to start from.

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The imperative is clear: the office of the future will have to be human-centered, putting health and well-being at the forefront. This will benefit both employers and employees, through boosting organizational performance while offering highly attractive workplaces to key talent.

It is important to start evaluating your next move early to seize the transformation opportunity and shape the future of work for a better world.