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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 co-CEO of Gensler, the world’s most influential architecture and design firm. Since 2005, he and Co-CEO Diane Hoskins have exemplified collaborative leadership, overseeing both the long-term strategy and day-to-day operations of the global practice known for its award-winning design innovation and research. Under their guidance, Gensler has organically grown to become the largest and most admired firm in the field, with some 6,000 people networked across 53 offices around the world, serving more than 3,500 clients in over 100 countries. A registered architect in 41 states and 3 Canadian provinces, Andy is a champion of the power of design to enhance and enrich the human experience. In 2021, he was named to Business Insider’s list of “100 People Transforming Business.”

Diane Hoskins

Diane is one of two co-CEOs of Gensler. For her innovative leadership, Diane, along with Co-CEO Andy Cohen, ranks on Business Insider’s elite “Creators” list, a who’s who of the world’s 100 top creative visionaries. As a hands-on leader, Diane oversees Gensler’s global platform and its day-to-day operations, with 6,000+ people networked across 53 offices, serving more than 3,500 clients in over 100 countries. Diane is focused on Gensler’s global talent strategies, performance, and organizational development to ensure that we serve our clients with the world’s top talent.