What people want from their office: The forecast is looking flexible with a touch of tech



By Jessica Alderson, Global researcher, Workthere

When it comes to figuring out where people want to work, there is plenty to think about. Location, proximity to good transport links, provision of shops and restaurants… these are only some considerations. Then what happens when we actually get to the office? What kind of office do people actually want to work in? Conventional? Co-working? In a café? Working from home? The possibilities are endless and according to Workthere’s latest report, What Coworkers Want, and there are even more options when we consider what workers of different ages want from the workplace.

Data shows that in the last three years, the number of people opting to work in a conventional office space has fallen from 70% to 63%. However upon closer inspection, it is the younger generation which is significantly more likely to prefer flexible offices over traditional spaces (31%) compared to older, more experienced workers (12%). Although you can argue that this younger generation – specifically those aged 18-24 – has grown up with the option to work in a more flexible office space, there are other factors at play.

Instagram is important

Design is one factor which is perhaps overlooked. The report findings show that Facebook and Instagram users (which are generally made up of younger people) are 10% more likely to think of office colour as important when deciding where to work. Securing a job at an office where there is a choice of an ‘insta friendly’ backdrops for a Friday #officetreats snapshot is becoming more than a just a ‘nice option to have’ but is now an actual serious consideration. Such examples in the flexible office market include refurbished Edwardian warehouse, DeBeauvoir Block in Hackey, London, which is widely recognised for its attention to detail, x+why in Whitechapel which prides itself on being a wellbeing-driven space and also in Manchester which brings the outdoors indoors through its impressive plant displays – perfect for filling the Instagram feed.

Tech takes the lead

While social media might be important to younger workers, technology ironically becomes more important with age for those working in coworking space. Although generally, good connectivity is deemed extremely important in the office for 80% of flexible office workers, only 66% of those aged 18-24 consider the quality of Wi-Fi and mobile signal in the office important, compared with 85% of workers in the 55+ age group. Providers are looking to solutions such as connected tech, integrated devices, voice activated tech and wireless charging pads to ensure that workers feel all their tech needs are being met.  

What does the future hold?

So what can we learn from these findings to ensure that we are creating coworking spaces that can be flexible and cater for different age groups? With more people working longer hours than ever, it is important for flexible office providers to ensure things such as wellbeing (mental and physical), sustainability and comfortable environments are all taken into account. As the lines between work and home continue to blur, and we see people working much later into their lives, these factors will only grow in importance with providers having to bear in mind the age spread of workers using the office space and therefore individual preferences. With this trend set to become more prevalent, the future of the workplace is certainly looking flexible.

*The What Coworkers Want report is based on a survey conducted by Savills and undertaken by YouGov between March and April 2019, which surveyed over 11,000 office-based employees based in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK, with 1,000 workers surveyed in each country. 1,874 respondents of the overall total consider their main workplace to be either a serviced or coworking office, and we included both of these groups in the flexible office category.

Workers were questioned on various office-related topics, including asking their views, in terms of importance and satisfaction, on 48 office features.

NB: Figures may not always add to 100 per cent due to removal of ‘don’t knows/not applicable’ responses or rounding.

Check out our full What Coworkers Want report

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