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The office is being repurposed on a global scale finds ISS survey

A new global survey by ISS has found employee engagement is now the top priority for global businesses with nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of respondents saying they are investing in their offices.

The survey also found that the majority of companies (69 per cent) have no plans to reduce office space while those which do plan to reduce are at the same time investing significantly in enabling better innovation and collaboration among their employees. All in all, the office is being “repurposed on a global scale”.

The findings are taken from a new survey conducted by ISS, a leading workplace and facility management company, of 100 of its global customers in a range of professional, technology and industrial sectors, including some of the world’s largest banks and professional services firms. The insights are estimated to represent over a million office-based employees worldwide.

Workplace priorities have changed significantly for businesses over the past two years. Pre-Covid, operational efficiency and cost savings were two of companies’ most prioritised outcomes for office planning and decision making. Today, however, employee engagement is at the top, while talent attraction has also become a new priority in top five.

To reach their people-focused goals, the majority of companies have chosen to invest in their workplace offerings by upgrading their facilities, office environment and employee experiences – primarily to enable better innovation and collaboration by employees, to attract people to the office and to enhance the sense of belonging.

Jacob Aarup-Andersen, Group CEO at ISS World Services A/S, said: “Power in global labour markets has shifted to employees after many decades in which it favoured employers. In addition, the pandemic accelerated hybrid working models and employee expectations of flexibility. The new mandate of employers is to meet those expectations in ways that cater to the productivity needs of both employees and the company. It is not a question of ‘if’ people are in the office; it is a question of ‘how’ they can best thrive, innovate and collaborate at work.

“Right now we are seeing a lot of companies redefining their offices to accommodate hybrid working patterns and personal preferences, focusing both on the physical place that people work in and the experience that people get when they come to the office.”

The survey also shows that 69 per cent of the companies are either expanding their office space, redesigning or keeping what they have or are undecided, while 31 per cent have decided to reduce it. However, the latter group, is also the one that will invest the most in upgrading the workplace.

Aarup-Andersen added: “Despite the varying approaches to the real estate footprint, the target of employee engagement is the same. There is no ‘one size fits all’ model when it comes to planning the workplace of tomorrow because the workplace must match each individual company and its employees. One thing is for sure, though: predictions of the death of the office have been greatly exaggerated. Instead, what we are witnessing now are workplaces being repurposed on a global scale.”

Table: Change in respondents’ reported workplace prioritised outcomes between 2020 and 2022.

Rank 2022 Rank 2020
1 Employee engagement 1 Operational efficiency
2 Operational efficiency 2 Employee engagement
3 Environmental sustainability 3 Employee productivity
4 Attract talent 4 Cost savings
5 Employee productivity 5 Environmental sustainability
6 Cost savings 6 Attract talent
7 Diversity & inclusion 7 Operational compliance
8 Operational compliance 8 Diversity & Inclusion
9 Reduce employee turnover 9 Reduce employee turnover

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