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Study finds workers say they need to be in an office to be productive

Experts say even hybrid work isn't helping when someone goes to an office that's empty — and it can make them feel less likely to want to go back.
Study finds workers say they need to be in an office to be productive
Posted at 1:44 PM, Jan 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 15:45:10-05

From the U.S. To the U.K. to Saudi Arabia, a majority of workers say they need an office to drive their productivity. That’s a shift from the early months of the pandemic, when some studies showed workers were slightly more productive while working from home

In a new report from the international architecture firm Gensler, workers in nine countries say they're usually in the office about half of a typical workweek, but on average say they need to be there two-thirds of a typical workweek to be productive.

"If there's an opportunity to meet in person I try to take it. There's power in being in the same room with people, whether that is creativity or a personal connection you can't make over a screen," said Matt Wilder, who works remotely. 

The top reasons people want to come in? Better focus, accessing technology, holding in-person meetings with teams and clients and gaining professional development.

But Gensler found about half of people are hesitant to come in more because the office space isn't effective enough. Gensler says the employees who want to come in more are typically in senior roles at higher-performing companies, while workers who need the office less already work primarily from the office — and likely have a longer commute.

Experts say even hybrid work isn't helping when someone goes to an office that's empty — and it can make them feel less likely to want to go back.

"Say you are in the office a few days a week and you're surrounded by people but still leave feeling lonely. It feels more painful because it's like being so close yet so far," said Wilder.

In October, a survey from the firm KMPG showed 63% of CEOs predict workers will be back in office five days a week by the end of 2026.


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