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A Shifting Workplace Paradigm for the New Year

With nearly three years of a pandemic behind us and significant economic concerns looming, the real estate and building sectors are in a moment of transformation. Now more than ever, people are attuned to the way that physical space shapes experience. In this time of constant change and challenge, people want to spend their time in environments that maximize the way they live, work, play, and collaborate.

Gensler’s newly published U.S. Workplace Survey takes a closer look at what this means for the office. After surveying thousands of office workers across the U.S., we have found that employees want the office to be a great place to get work done, even beyond collaboration. The right experiences will accelerate their return.

A Changing Paradigm for the Workplace

The findings of our latest survey reveal a shift in the reasons people come into the office. Previously, the data showed that collaborating with teams and colleagues was the main driver for in-person work. Now, as we settle into our “new normal,” the most important reason people cite for coming into the office is to focus on work, with nearly half of all survey respondents ranking this factor first.

An Opportunity for Improvement

Across industries, generations, and job roles, workers spend at least one-third of their time working alone. And while employees want the office to serve as the best venue for focus work, many workplaces aren’t there yet. Our new research suggests that the workplace’s effectiveness as a setting for solo work has hit a 15-year low. This sets up a key challenge for worker performance, and a critical opportunity for companies to rethink how they are using their space. We are helping our clients to reimagine their physical space, optimizing it to support the productivity and wellbeing of their people.

A Rich Mix of Experiences, at the Office and Beyond

The best workplaces—those that are both effective and provide great experiences—provide a variety of spaces and high-quality amenities. This sentiment extends beyond the office to the very fabric of our cities. This year we released an update to our City Pulse Survey, which takes a close look at the experiences, opinions, and preferences of urban residents in 30 cities around the globe. Our research indicates that the pandemic has changed peoples’ relationship with the places they live. City dwellers report an increased desire for walkable neighborhoods, where they are close to work, errands, and activities. By taking a mixed-use approach to design—of the workplace, but also to our central business districts and urban cores—we can create environments that attract tenants, talent, and residents.

In the coming year, despite tremendous global volatility, Gensler continues to lead the way toward a prosperous, resilient future, leveraging our deep well of research and experience. Our annual Design Forecast publication, launching in January, serves as a roadmap and guide, sharing the key design trends and overarching themes that will shape the future of our radically changing world. From how repositioning stranded assets can jumpstart the revitalization of cities, to the ways that interest rates are cracking open opportunity for multifamily development, the ideas in Design Forecast will help to position our clients’ portfolios for long-term success. Together, we can turn crisis into opportunity and emerge stronger than before.

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Andy Cohen
Andy is global co-chair of Gensler, the world’s most influential architecture and design firm. He served as co-CEO from 2005 to 2024 and has spent his entire 43-year career at Gensler. Cohen is a frequent speaker for premier industry groups, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Urban Land Institute, the Young Presidents Organization, the Milken Institute Global Conference, the Pension Real Estate Association, and more. His insights have appeared in Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Quartz, Curbed, and many other general interest and trade publications. Cohen is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a graduate of the Pratt Institute.
Diane Hoskins
Diane is global co-chair of Gensler, the world’s most influential architecture and design firm. She served as co-CEO from 2005 to 2024. Hoskins is the 2023-2025 Global Chair of the Urban Land Institute and was a featured speaker at the United Nation’s Habitat Assembly in Nairobi (2023) and Climate Action Summit in New York (2019). She has also spoken at the UN Climate Change Conference for three consecutive years. Her insights have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, CNN, Forbes, Fast Company, NPR, and elsewhere. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Hoskins graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.