In our U.S. Workplace Survey Summer 2021, we define top-performing companies as organizations that have recently been ranked on a Most Admired, Best Places to Work, and Most Innovative Companies list, representing one-fourth of respondents. Our latest workplace survey found that leaders and employees at these companies share a similar preference for flexibility and a mix of in-office and remote work post-COVID. But the specific work activities they say they prefer doing at the office illustrate how these top-performing organizations understand how the physical workplace can be a crucial tool to drive creativity and innovation — and also provide a great workplace experience where their organization's culture and their employees thrive.
Top-performing companies are more likely to expect the majority of staff in the office concurrently post-COVID.
Top-performing companies understand that a hybrid work future means working differently — and the workplace will have to evolve as a result. Despite employees' continued preference for flexibility and the ability to work remotely, the workplace remains the preferred location for the majority of work activities, according to responses collected in our U.S. Workplace Survey Summer 2021.
Leaders — particularly leaders at top-performing companies — place a clear value on in-person interaction and the physical workplace as a means to drive performance and innovation. When asked what portion of their staff they expect to be in the office concurrently in the future (post-COVID), top performers are more likely to report the majority of their staff will be in the office at the same time.
Top-performing companies are 3x more likely to expect post-COVID real estate increases.
The expectation by top performers that most of their staff will return to the office concurrently post-COVID, paired with their reliance on the office to support a wider range of activities (explored below), underpins these companies’ expectations for increased real estate needs in the future. 44% of top-performing companies, compared to only 12% of unranked companies, say they expect to need more real estate post-COVID — and 27% expect to increase their real estate footprint by more than 25%.
For every work task other than reading, employees at top-performing companies prefer working from their company's office over other locations.
Employees at top-performing companies report the greatest preference for working from office environments to support brainstorming and ideation — both collaborative and individual — followed by a mix of individual activities and collaborative tasks. Compared to average U.S. worker survey respondents, professionals at top-performing companies are more likely to rank individual tasks such as thinking/ideating and deep concentration as reliant on the office. Overall, top performers are also generally less interested in working from home and express a greater interest in working from third places and coworking locations for many tasks as part of their normal workweeks.
U.S. Workplace Summer Survey 2021 Methodology
This survey of 2,000 U.S. workers was conducted online via an anonymous, panel-based survey from April 20 to May 17, 2021. Respondents were required to be working full-time for a company, organization, or firm of 100 or more people, and to have worked in an office environment prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of data collection, respondents worked in a variety of scenarios: full-time from home, part-time in the office (hybrid work model), and full-time in the office. Respondents were distributed across 10 industries and represent a wide range of seniority levels, roles, ages, and geographies across the U.S.
Download the full Gensler U.S. Workplace Summer Survey 2021 Report to explore insights on the return to the office, informed by responses from 2,000 U.S. workers. Our data shows that U.S. workers are embracing the hybrid work model and both leaders and employees at top-performing companies understand the value of the physical workplace to drive creativity and innovation.
Explore our global workplace surveys for insights on the evolving workplace from workers across the world.