Offices regain their appeal

Offices regain their appeal

People looking for a change of scenery and better balance as work-from-home fatigue grows, says JLL

Employees want more balance in the way they work, with the office reemerging as the primary place of work post-pandemic, as home-working fatigue grows and productivity levels decline, according to the latest Worker Preferences Barometer from the multinational property firm JLL.

A survey of 1,500 respondents across Asia-Pacific reveals that the appetite for working in the office post-pandemic has grown to three days a week, compared to only two days in a similar survey JLL conducted last year.

The data indicates that 68% of respondents favour a hybrid model, having the flexibility to switch between the office, home and a third-party location, versus 74% in October 2020. Six out of 10 believe they are more productive in the office than at home, compared to 54% a year ago.

"What we're observing is that people crave the social interaction and professional work environment that the office provides," said Anthony Couse, chief executive of JLL Asia Pacific.

"One in two employees miss the face-to-face collaboration with colleagues, as well as access to efficient infrastructure, including good internet connectivity, ergonomic workstations and collaboration areas.

"We're also seeing that working from home in the long run makes people feel stuck in an endless day of virtual meetings and work, without clear boundaries that enable them to disconnect properly. This has taken a social and mental toll on some."

More than half of the respondents to the latest JLL survey reported feeling overwhelmed by a huge mental load and were worried about their job security. The majority of young parents (60%) said they have many personal responsibilities to cope with and are becoming disenchanted with work.

"Companies have to pay closer attention to the health and well-being of their employees, now more than ever," said Mr Couse.

"With 90% of the workforce wanting more flexibility in choosing where and when to work, work-life balance is now being ranked as the top priority in the research, ahead of salary, and this should be considered by employers if they want to attract and retain talent."

HUMAN-FIRST OFFICES

According to the survey, 92% of employees who are highly satisfied with their office environment strongly miss their offices. However, office satisfaction has also dropped significantly as employees now have renewed expectations of their office environment.

"Apart from work-life balance and salary, the pandemic has driven people to focus on what matters most in their work lives -- a desire for spaces that create a strong sense of community and culture," said Kamya Miglani, director of work dynamics research with JLL Asia Pacific.

The survey reveals that employees are now looking at health and wellness programmes, sustainability, learning and development, and diversity and inclusion initiatives as some of the top factors that will attract them to join or stay with an employer.

"As we start to navigate out of the pandemic, companies have an opportunity to leverage their physical office spaces to become more human-centric in supporting the employees' diverse, evolving needs and working styles," said Ms Miglani.

"The office is here to stay," said Michael Glancy, country head of JLL in Thailand. "As businesses start to implement their new real estate strategies, Bangkok is in a prime position to lead the new way of working on both the landlord and occupier sides in Southeast Asia.

"The abundance of high-specification new office supply coming to the market, and a growing number of older buildings that will be upgraded to meet more sophisticated needs of occupiers, are making it more viable for companies to create a better workplace and an exciting new way of working for their people."

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