March 12, 2019

New Data Changes the Conversation On the Open Office

Gensler reveals data from 6,000 U.S. workers that shifts the narrative for workplace design.

It’s time to stop talking about open vs. closed.

Washington, D.C. — New workplace data from the Gensler Research Institute disproves the current narrative surrounding the open office debate and uncovers the right way to invest in work-focused amenities, including coworking, that result in higher employee engagement, business performance, and profit.

“One of the most important decisions companies need to make is how open they should make their office,” says Gensler Co-CEO Diane Hoskins. “For the first time, we have data to help inform this decision as well as other decisions about the type of workplace strategy offered by employers. This new data will help companies devise more effective real estate strategies that will improve employee productivity, deliver cost savings, and make an organization more attractive in recruiting top talent.”

The 2019 Gensler U.S. Workplace Survey represents the input from more than 6,000 U.S. office workers across a variety of industries and demographics to provide new insight into not only what makes an effective workplace, but the investments companies can make to improve employees’ workplace experience and performance.

In today’s diverse workforce, employers are challenged by often competing expectations of five generations of workers. In the war to attract and retain top talent, the research finds employees want, and expect, a great experience at work — spaces with mostly open environments combined with the right amenities and on-demand private space are the ones that deliver this best. The five top-performing amenities with the greatest impact include innovation hubs, maker spaces, quiet/tech-free zones, outdoor workspaces, and focus rooms.

Additionally, Gensler’s data confirms that access to coworking directly correlates with effectiveness and experience when offered as another choice of where to work, but not a replacement for the main office.

For employers looking to create a great workplace experience to entice and retain top talent, there are three things companies can implement to optimize employees’ performance in the workplace:

  • Design open environments to include private space, too. Open environments with on-demand private space are the most effective and offer the best experience.
  • Create amenities that are about optimizing work, not escaping it. High performers work everywhere — both inside and outside the workplace. Amenities are central to a successful workplace, but some offer significantly more value than others.
  • Use coworking as a part of, not a replacement for, a great workplace experience. When large companies offer employees the option to use a coworking space it is associated with a better work experience and higher performance, but it loses its luster if used more than one day a week.

The 2019 Gensler U.S. Workplace Survey is the latest iteration of ongoing research surrounding the workplace and represents the first integration of insights into experience drawn from the 2017 Gensler Experience Index. For more actionable data on how to create a great workplace experience, please visit gensler.com/us-wps.

About Gensler

Gensler is a global architecture, design, and planning firm with 48 locations and more than 6,000 professionals networked across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the Americas. Founded in 1965, the firm serves more than 3,500 active clients in virtually every industry. Gensler designers strive to make the places people live, work, and play more inspiring, more resilient, and more impactful.

About the Gensler Research Institute

The Gensler Research Institute is a collaborative network of researchers focused on a common goal: to generate new knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of the connection between design, business, and the human experience. Through a combination of global and local research grants, and external partnerships, we seek insights focused on solving the world’s most pressing challenges. We are committed to unlocking new solutions and strategies that will define the future of design.