A recent quarterly survey of more than 10,000 technology professionals, published by the Future Forum, found that globally only one in three employees still actually work full-time at the office. What's more, only about one in five employees actually want to work in an office full-time. These are the lowest rates the survey has seen in two years - suggesting an employee disconnect from what should constitute their normal work environment.

This data is not at all surprising, because in today's world, the vast majority of employees work remotely or in hybrid work models. On the other hand, low office occupancy levels have been found to be a problem not only for office space owners, but also a threat to employee productivity - who can be up to 30% less productive during periods of remote work.

Thus, although the spread of remote work has increased with the pandemic, several studies have shown that working in the office simply makes employees more productive. And working in an office space is beneficial because it helps employees work more collaboratively and encourages a stronger sense of company culture.

From the wealth of information provided by specialists, we can draw two main ideas: 1) that hybrid work models have gained momentum and will probably be used for a long time to come, and 2) that the importance of the physical office still exists and is proving to be the main element in running successful businesses.

So the objective for companies is simple - they need to encourage their hybrid workforce to take advantage of physical office space. To do this, however, it all boils down to one thing: employees must want to come to the office. And, for this, it is very important that the companies collaborate with the owners of the office spaces!

To encourage employees to return to the office, it should become more attractive than the work environment the employee has at home. And that appeal encompasses more than amenities or features that emphasize the physical office space—such as reserving desks and rooms or incorporating multiple co-working spaces. Rather, it's about features that bring memorable workplace experiences. Let's see what this means.

More than a building

It is commonly assumed that the solution to making a space more attractive is to enhance it with all the amenities you can think of. After all, we've all heard of the extravagant campuses with movable walls, incredible sustainability features and state-of-the-art on-site facilities - who wouldn't want to work there?

However, while these characteristics are - certainly - noteworthy and admirable, they are not always realistic. Most of the office space owners have to work with much smaller budgets or have to make the best use of an already existing location with a pre-defined infrastructure and floor plan.

While adjusting the physical space of an office in the right way can certainly be a bonus, it is not the only thing that landlords and tenants should pay attention to. To increase its appeal, investment in technology is very important. Workplace-specific technology can go beyond the physical space to elevate all aspects of it—making it accessible and attractive to employees, no matter where they work (which in turn encourages them to return to the office for resources and more practical and meaningful facilities).

Since "hybrid" employees are often separated from their colleagues in the office space (at least for certain periods of time), it is more important than ever to maintain direct communication with them. With a very good internet connection and a workplace experience app, seamless communication between employees is ensured, thereby eliminating many of the challenges associated with hybrid work. Technology also improves the accessibility of important resources inside and outside the office, allowing employees to choose where and how they work best to be truly innovative.

Office space owners can facilitate the implementation of an ecosystem of restaurants, lounges, cafes or various service providers, all digitally accessible. The same digital technologies can help demonstrate that a building's health and safety protocols have been followed or book rooms and workspaces.


Services associated with the workplace

Many times, when we are at a loss for ideas or solutions, help comes from colleagues. Working from home requires that every interaction between colleagues be scheduled or take place virtually. This extra effort can make people less likely to ask quick questions or share something they just learned informally than if everyone was working together. The physical workplace allows for these moments that can move projects forward and lead to a new and surprising solution.

To do this, owners can convert some of the private offices into collaborative areas and incorporate perks designed to encourage teamwork. Thus, part of the employees will be able to work privately and quietly, and the others will work with colleagues in a noisier and more social environment. In addition, meeting, leisure or service spaces can be created that will make the physical office a better experience. Other investments that owners can make are a gym, where employees could take a physical break, or spaces that would provide a place to take an emotional break or meditate.

Such spaces, dedicated to personal health and balance, are also beneficial for energy levels, whether they are quiet rooms, fitness areas or break areas. Having transition spaces, where employees can disconnect between different tasks and avoid back-to-back meetings, helps people recharge their “batteries”.

Become a solution partner!

Most tenants don't yet know how to approach the hybrid work system. Many risk failure in a hybrid model where they get neither the benefit of having everyone in the office nor the benefit of full flexibility. Tenants need office space owners/operators to come up with solutions rather than positioning themselves as enemies on the other side of the negotiating table. Owner/operators will need to evolve their approach to leasing to become more consultative. As I said before, it is very important to provide technologies and tools that directly address the needs of tenants in terms of physical space - for example, understanding the usage patterns of offices and conference rooms.

Their aim is to provide compelling value propositions that go beyond the simple notion of "four walls", to arrive at solutions that create convenient experiences, measure the factors in the space and generate information about what happens in these spaces . These owner/operators deliver a digitally powered experience within one set of walls, fundamentally transforming the relationship with tenants and the drivers of lease and renewal decisions.

As work takes place in an increasingly digital environment, the office space should become more relevant than ever - being defined as a space that brings people together, whether they are employees or customers. Regardless of the time spent in the office building, it should provide facilities to support a vibrant community and fuel sustainable, long-term performance. If you are looking for suggestions to optimize your building or office space, Activ Property Services specialists are at your disposal with actively integrated services with advisory, implementation and management services tailored to each client!

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