Article: The changing role of the office for 2023 and beyond

Employee Engagement

The changing role of the office for 2023 and beyond

The office - can't live with it, can't live without it. After the success of the great WFH experiment, what role does this space play in our lives?
The changing role of the office for 2023 and beyond

People in the study were 12% more engaged when they worked together in the morning compared to when they did the same work alone at a computer, with their brains more active and aroused when others were around.


Over the last three years, flexibility became the new buzzword for both sides of the employee-employer power dynamic. We all gained a new perspective on workplaces when nations worldwide came to a sudden halt, and the concept of remote and hybrid working spread rapidly across organisations globally.

But even as these trends became more entrenched, JLL’s 2022 Future of Work Survey found that 77% of corporate real estate (CRE) professionals in Asia Pacific still consider the office central to their organisation’s long-term work ecosystem. 

The pandemic was a catalyst for the burgeoning transformation, driving companies to recognise the office’s role in today’s working environment. Today, a new generation of workers – those who have been empowered by greater flexibility and work-life balance, and those who began their careers working remotely amid the pandemic and tight labour market – are redefining the role of the office in their lives.

And as employees become more vocal about their needs and preferences, companies are taking notice and becoming more attuned.

How the new generation of employees sees the office

The shift to hybrid work has shown employers that remote working is not the disaster they feared it would be, and offices no longer represent a space where employees clock in for eight hours to get work done. 

Generation Z is poised to surpass Millennials as the largest generation on earth, with more than one-third of the world’s population counting themselves as Gen Z-ers. Many of them have never known a workplace that was not flexible so come with new expectations. Their expectations include greater flexibility and control over their time; more opportunities for collaboration and social interactions with peers; a greater focus on health and mental wellbeing; and a new perception of the office’s role in their professional lives. 

According to JLL’s Hybrid Work Decoded research, 36% of Gen Z respondents in Asia Pacific preferred hybrid work, while 38% preferred to work from the office. Of these, over 62% plan to use the office as a social hub to fulfil social interactions they cannot access virtually.

How organisations are responding to these changes

To win the hearts and minds of younger employees and remain competitive in the current talent landscape, employers have begun prioritising requests for the office to become a space that encourages collaboration and innovation, and promotes employees’ health and wellbeing.


JLL’s Future of Work Survey shows that organisations today view collaboration as the primary purpose of the office. Around the world, 45% of respondents rank collaboration among their top three objectives for the workplace. This figure rose to 55% among corporations that had more than 10,000 employees. 

In Asia Pacific, 80% of respondents stated that their companies view investments in collaborative and creative spaces that foster employee wellbeing and allow them to maximise productivity as a more significant priority than expanding the total footprint. 

From software to video conferencing apps, spending on collaboration tools to fill the gaps during the pandemic era has greatly increased. At the same time, JLL has observed a rise in spending on physical collaboration spaces. According to JLL’s Asia Pacific HR Leaders Survey, 56% of organisations plan to redesign their office space in the next 12 months, with collaboration being the number one reason. 


When it comes to innovation, the office plays a critical role in encouraging creativity as it provides employees with opportunities for social interaction and peer-to-peer learning. 

In fact, 36% of JLL’s Future of Work survey respondents plan to use the office to foster innovative ideas, and almost a third plan to use the office to provide opportunities for spontaneous idea-sharing and fostering on-the-job learning experiences for their workforce.

Health and wellbeing

A growing number of employees are reprioritising their health and wellbeing. These two focus areas join the list of necessities employees look for in a meaningful workplace culture alongside flexible working hours, great location, and a decent salary. In response, companies are offering mental health programmes and leveraging technology in the office to promote employees’ physical and psychological health.

From smart sensors and air purifiers, to dedicated spaces for employees to rest and recharge, almost half of respondents from the Asia-Pacific region in JLL’s Future of Work survey plan to accelerate investment in workplace design projects that are intended to improve employee engagement and wellbeing. Meanwhile, 43% expect to push forward investment in new or enhanced health and wellbeing amenities in 2023.

Among the areas being explored is the application of neuroscience in the workplace. JLL recently carried out a two-day study in Singapore that scanned the brains of volunteer employees while they performed tasks that mimicked a normal working day. 

People in the study were 12% more engaged when they worked together in the morning compared to when they did the same work alone at a computer, with their brains more active and aroused when others were around. Such insights could help companies to improve the experience and productivity of their employees.

The future of the office

It’s clear that the office is here to stay as more corporations are either asking nicely or mandating that their employees spend a certain number of days of the week in their workplace. And with uncertainties about the economic outlook, some employers believe they have more leverage to impose such policies.

But while every organisation seeks to find the right balance, most acknowledge the benefits of being in the office for overall learning and development. Both employers and employees recognise the limits of online learning and the benefits of in-person interactions to build knowledge, culture, relationships, and career growth opportunities. 

The good news is that many of the positive changes precipitated by the pandemic will stick, and the role of the office will continue to evolve this year and going forward.

As the workforce continues to diversify, companies must deepen their understanding of employee needs to tailor and invest in better quality workspaces – not only to drive collaboration and enhance physical and mental wellbeing, but to attract and retain talent in today’s competitive landscape.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, #HybridWorkplace, #Future of Work

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