As an increasing number of companies unveil new office attendance mandates, and with a majority of workers globally returning to office spaces, leaders find themselves navigating the challenge of meeting evolving expectations regarding work locations and practices. In this dynamic landscape, addressing the changing needs of employees and adapting strategies to align with the current work environment becomes imperative for organisational success.
In their recent report titled "Is Hybrid Really Working? Creating a Dynamic Workplace for a Productive Workforce," JLL delved into the evolving expectations of both employers and employees in the current hybrid work environment. The comprehensive study explored best practices aimed at not only enticing employees back to the office but also sustaining the flexibility that remote work provides.
As employers place a heightened focus on productivity and operational efficiency, organisations are continually adapting their hybrid work policies to encourage increased office attendance. Currently, employees worldwide are averaging just over three days in the office, with peak attendance occurring on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. This shift in approach reflects a strategic alignment with evolving workplace dynamics and the ongoing quest for an optimal balance between remote and in-office work.
Despite the widespread adoption of hybrid models, variations in office attendance have become apparent across regions and countries. This divergence is notable, ranging from an average of two days in the US and UK to over four days in countries across the Asia Pacific, including India (4.4 days), South Korea (4.2 days), and Taiwan (4.7 days). Notably, Australia's office attendance (3.1 days) aligns with Western markets, while Japan (3.8 days), Thailand (3.3 days), and Singapore (3.8 days) exhibit higher attendance than many markets, approaching global averages.
These disparities are primarily influenced by a combination of cultural nuances, living arrangements, and other structural factors shaping work practices.
In the current landscape, the majority of international organizations globally (87%) are encouraging their employees to spend at least some time working from the office. Interestingly, only 20% of employees are now fully remote or spend up to two days in the office, a notable decrease from 39% a year ago. As employers persist in expecting in-office work and organizations shift away from fully remote hiring, it is anticipated that office attendance will gradually increase throughout the year.
When envisioning the future of the hybrid workplace, a delicate balance between collaborative and focused work is essential. After three experimental years of hybrid work, employers now associate the office with various benefits. Beyond fostering collaboration, social connections, and cultural bonds, they recognize it as a significant contributor to employee productivity, ranking among the top three reasons enticing workers back. Improved office technology and enhanced amenities, coupled with a growing number of employers (33%) mandating attendance, play pivotal roles in attracting employees to work from the office.
While a substantial number of employees have returned to the office for several days a week, opportunities are emerging to enhance engagement and productivity in a hybrid context. The physical office remains valued as a hub for socialization, innovation, and professional growth. However, commuting challenges, noise, and a lack of privacy are reported as the top barriers to working from the office.
As leaders strive to strike a balance between managing costs in a challenging economic environment and maintaining a positive employee experience, addressing these deterrents becomes crucial for successful long-term hybrid strategies. Given that employees spend half of their time on individual tasks while in the office (51%), forward-thinking companies are adapting their office spaces to serve not only as social hubs but also as places that cater to the diverse needs of an office day.
This involves adjusting workspaces to address both collective and individual requirements, incorporating technology and design to strike a better balance between collaboration and spaces dedicated to privacy and focused work.
“The office has always been, and will continue to be, central to work experience and culture,” said Susheel Koul, Chief Executive Officer, Work Dynamics, Asia Pacific for JLL. “
“As more workers return to the office several days a week, we’re continuing to learn about the shifting preferences for ways of working and how we can better deploy technology and flexible arrangements to meet these expectations. Ultimately, our research finds that the majority of global workers continue to crave a destination for human connection, so creating dynamic spaces that satisfy a mix of collaborative and focused work needs will ultimately be the most effective strategy to enticing employees to the office on a regular basis,” added Koul.