This study presents compelling evidence that workforce performance and well-being considerations are largely driving the form and use of the future workplace and emphasize the need to support business continuity strategies through flexibility. This will be matched with a shift in the design of office space to a more casual look and feel. Related to supporting workforce needs and flexibility, we found that remote work is here to stay. When employees do use the future office, the primary intent is for creative group interactions rather than rote meetings or focus work. On the other hand, work from home is clearly not the answer to everything since it does not support creative brainstorming or nurturing important social networks. Thus, in the future office, we expect a significant reduction in the proportion of individual to group spaces within the office, especially with larger companies.
The next two years will see an acceleration of an existing trend away from individual workspaces and a reallocation to meeting spaces, social spaces and outdoor spaces—even for the most “heads-down” organizational culture. Further supporting flexibility, the average percentage of unassigned workspaces will more than double—and the percentage of assigned spaces will drop by a third. Coworking and space-as-a-service will continue to grow as an option—especially for larger business organizations—as the overall managed footprint shrinks and the need for flexibility grows.
The use of satellite offices as part of a “hub-and-spoke” strategy will remain stable overall. Technology is critical to supporting a workforce that is highly mobile and increasingly using unassigned space. Most companies are already using reservation and sensing technology, and the remainder are moving quickly to catch up.