Top-performing companies more likely to expand office space

The most innovative, most admired and best places to work are also those least likely to slash their office footprint, according to a Gensler’s new workplace survey of US workers

High-performance companies are three times more likely to increase their real-estate footprint in the wake of the global pandemic than standard firms. This is according to a Gensler survey which collected data anonymously from 2,000 full-time office workers in top-performing companies in the US – those organisations which have recently been ranked on a ‘Most Admired’, ‘Best Places to Work’ or ‘Most Innovative Companies’ list.

According to the survey, these top performers remain reliant on the office to support a wider range of activities, and expect that the majority of their staff will return to the office. This underpins their  expectations for increased future real estate needs: 27 per cent of top performing companies expect to increase their real estate footprint by more than a quarter and a further 44 per cent say they will likely need more real estate post Covid-19.

In-person interaction valued

In expecting most of their staff to return to the office after the pandemic, leaders in these top-performing companies place a clear value on in-person interaction and the way physical workplaces drive performance and innovation. However, these companies also recognise the need for change and flexibility in the workplace to ensure they can successfully adapt to the hybrid future of work.

Although employees continue to push for flexibility and the ability to work remotely, surprisingly the workplace remains the preferred location for the majority of work activities. Employees in top-performing companies are nearly twice as likely to prefer the office for individual thinking or ideation, and they are generally less interested in working from home.

As part of their normal work week, they express a greater interest in working from third places and coworking locations. They also prioritise in-person work over virtual work, in particular when giving and receiving feedback. For individual reflection or conceptual tasks such as reading, however, they are more likely to prefer a wider variety of places — both in and out of the office.

Third spaces for focus

Third places are becoming a crucial component in the hybrid workplace ecosystem. Coffee shops, libraries and coworking spaces were ranked highly as spaces for conducting deep focus work.

As cities begin to recover and reopen, this change in preference for work settings, both in and out of the office, may provide new urban planning and design opportunities post-pandemic. Third places and outdoor spaces are likely to play a much greater role in where companies decide to locate and  how they design their offices or campuses.

Top performers thrive when the work environment supports them. However, they also need a great work experience — one that can inspire innovation and creativity whilst making them feel comfortable and supported. This work environment simply cannot be provided remotely and for top companies to successfully be able to compete for talent, organisations of the future will have to provide an ecosystem of workplaces both in and out of the office to capture the hearts and souls of their employees.

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