There has been a lot of talk about how working from home is gaining ground as the favored mode of office work in the wake of Coronavirus, but commercial real estate giant JLL isn’t buying it.
The company asserts that the physical office will maintain its importance for facilitating innovation and collaboration and, ultimately, employee health, well-being and productivity.
“The global pandemic has forced many employers to reconsider the role of the office in supporting business culture and purpose,” says JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich. “Real estate demand follows economic cycles, so we know these unprecedented times are also creating opportunities for companies across the globe to reimagine their workspace needs as they return to the office.”
In the short term, there will be an increased demand for some office-based activities to move to locally-accessible suburbs, and second and third-tier cities that make it easier for employees to connect with colleagues closer to home, the company projects.
This could also be an added asset post-pandemic, with the lack of commute being the element workers enjoyed most about working from home, according to nearly half (49%) of respondents in a recent JLL survey of 3,000 office workers.
Offices encourage collaboration, innovation, mentoring and team building – all things that technology struggles to replicate, JLL points out. In fact, the company’s survey found that 58% of office workers missed the office, with younger cohorts – those 35 and under – showing an even stronger desire to return (65%).
Human interaction and socializing with colleagues were the most missed element of the office (44%) followed by collective face-to-face work (29%).
JLL’s Global CEO, Corporate Solutions, Neil Murray, agrees with this outlook, “Density requirements will change and there will be an evolution in how office space is used, designed and developed. But history, and our latest office worker survey, shows that the office is not going away anytime soon.”
A separate survey found only 12% of workers want to work from home full-time, and 70% say they want to spend most of their week in the office. Meetings, socializing and impromptu face-to-face interactions with colleagues were ranked as top reasons people wanted to head back into the office.