How economic instability is driving change in Nordic workplace

A new survey from Swedish facilities firm Coor suggests that economic conditions in the Nordic region have influenced a range of decisions from reducing energy use to returning to the office

Company decision-making and employee behaviour in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have both been affected by economic turbulence in the region over the past year, according to a new survey from Swedish facilities management company Coor.

Coor’s report, ‘Join The Workplace Revolution, is based an extensive survey of more than one thousand respondents. There was an even split between decision makers and employees, and an equal number of respondents from Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The data collected by Coor suggested a number of significant trends in the Nordic workplace that may well be reflective of attitudes across the rest of Europe.

Economic factors

The report highlights how the recent economic downturn is starting to be seen in the behaviour of both decision makers and employees alike. Around 25 per cent of employees suggested that they were now less likely to come into the office as they needed to save money that would otherwise be spent on the commute.


However, 10 per cent indicated that they would be more likely to come into the office in the new economic climate. This may be a result of their living closer to their office and the commute being less of a barrier. If employees overcome the commute, they can save money on household bills by working from the office.

In one of a number of case studies in the report – an interview with Per Kristian Helland, Head of Strategy and People Experience at Nordic financial institution Storebrand – it emerged that more people opted to shower in the office over the autumn and winter. This may also be related to a desire to save money in a challenging economic climate.

But it’s not just employees that are feeling the crunch. Decision makers also suggested that reduced spending is top of their agenda, with 64 per cent taking steps to reduce energy usage in the office, 52 per cent reducing spending on community activities in the office and 50 per cent reducing investments in office renovations and modifications.

Whilst tackling energy usage came top of Nordic workplace decision-makers’ priorities for the next year, their focus on sustainability has slipped down the ranks – this result suggests that alterations to energy used in their buildings is motivated by financial goals rather than environmental consciousness.

Workplace attitudes set to stay

However, despite these changes to the workplace landscape, some trends and attitudes seem set to stay and have even become more embedded overtime. Employee attitudes towards flexibility and hybrid working seem unshaken by the economic downturn, with over 40 per cent of employees stating that they would consider changing jobs if they are not offered flexibility in both where and when they work.

Decision makers also noted the ongoing challenge in getting employees back into the workplace, with the percentage of decision makers struggling to attract employees into the office increasing from 52 per cent in 2022 to 70 per cent in 2023. This suggests that attitudes towards hybrid and remote working are not changing as a result of increased uncertainty – in fact employees seem to be digging their heels in harder than ever.

Renovation and modification

The Coor survey results also suggests that workplace decision makers are acknowledging the need for continued investment in the office, with many companies still planning renovations, renovations and alterations to their space.

Most interestingly, employees and decision makers alike acknowledged a real need for there to be more spaces within the workplace for quiet, focused work and for general attempts to be made to reduce the noise level in the office. This suggests a shift in thinking from the model of the office as a collaboration and social hub that has been widely touted since the pandemic.

‘Nordic companies seem ahead of the curve in recognising the need for focus space…’

Whilst there is an undoubted need for collaboration space and socialisation within the office, employees are clearly missing the ability to do some quiet work at the office, away from families, house mates and other distractions. Nordic company decision makers seem ahead of the curve in recognising the need for this type of space.

Overall, the report discusses a wide range of attitudes towards the workplace and highlights discrepancies between employee needs and wants and decision-maker actions, proposing a range of solutions to these issues and addressing a number of rising concerns amongst workplace teams in the Nordic region.

Whether these trends will be replicated across Europe remains to be seen, but there is certainly a level of familiarity to employee complaints and decision maker actions here that reflects the challenges of post-pandemic hybrid working.

The Coor survey was conducted in partnership with WORKTECH Academy. Read the full report, ‘Join The Workplace Revolution: New research insights and ideas on your journey to the future workplace’, here.

Coor is a Corporate Member of WORKTECH Academy
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