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April 19, 2023

New Survey Finds UK Employees Regard the Office as Essential for Productivity, Not Just Connecting With Colleagues

Gensler’s latest UK Workplace Survey sheds light on employee workplace preferences, highlighting the importance of creating a productive environment.

LONDON, UK – 19 April 2023 – The latest UK Workplace Survey from the Gensler Research Institute reveals that employees view the office as a crucial part of the modern workplace ecosystem with UK workers stating that the top two reasons for returning to the office are to focus on their work and collaborate with colleagues.

According to the survey, employees come into the office for purposeful interaction and to get work done. The majority of surveyed workers who have a choice and diversity of workspaces report having a great workplace experience. Furthermore, respondents report that their ideal mix of experiences would make them more willing to come into the office more often.

“The workplace is evolving, and we need to adapt to meet the changing needs of employees. Amidst the rise of remote work, our survey shows that any reports of the office’s decline have been an exaggeration; it’s here to stay,” said Jane Clay, Principal and Strategy Director for Gensler’s Europe region. “The workplace is a crucial tool for organisations to foster a sense of community, collaboration, and innovation. Our survey highlights that a mix of the right experiences in the office can create a more compelling work destination.”

“With employers navigating an increasingly complex landscape of agile and hybrid work, they are looking to Gensler to make research-informed recommendations on how design can maximise the in-office experience,” said Athely Guedes, Principal and Managing Director at Gensler’s London office. “This research provides valuable insight for employers looking to attract their staff to the office and to support productivity by providing an environment that promotes wellbeing and collaboration.”

The twin drivers for workers to return to the office have shifted since the height of the pandemic. UK employees now prioritise focusing on their work and the ability to collaborate with their team.

  • “To sit with my team” and “to focus on my work” are now the most important reasons employees give when asked about coming back to the office. Additional top ranked reasons center on a desire to connect with others and collaborate in-person with colleagues.
  • Demographic data reveal that younger workers are more willing to come into the office for their ideal experience, with 52% of Gen Z and 48% of younger Millennials saying they would return an additional one day a week.
  • Employees are now spending more time working virtually with others and double the amount of time learning and socialising during a typical work week compared with data from the UK Workplace Survey in 2016.
  • Many workers are willing to return to the office for the right mix of experience, with many reporting that they need to spend more time in the office to maximise productivity.

The survey findings also shed light on how employees in the UK’s most innovative companies use and value space differently. People in high-performing workplaces report needing to be in the office more to maximise their productivity, and innovators are more likely to have access to a wide range of spaces. The survey findings also show that employees in high-performing workplaces feel more positive about their individual and organisational outcomes, demonstrating the importance of creating a great workplace experience. It highlights the importance of a variety of spaces that cater to employees’ diverse needs, including dedicated focus areas, collaboration zones, and social spaces.

Workplaces that are both effective and offer great experiences have access to diverse work settings.

  • Spaces for rest and rejuvenation, and quiet spaces for deep, focused work had the most significant impact on space effectiveness and experience.
  • On average, 84% of UK office workers who report having a great workplace experience have a choice in where to work within the office environment.

Download the full UK Workplace Survey 2023 to explore insights on the needs and desires of UK-based office workers and how design interventions can improve the overall effectiveness and experience of the modern office.

The Gensler Research Institute conducted an anonymous, panel-based survey of over 2,000 UK adults in the UK between November 3 and December 26, 2022. Respondents excluded workers who have not yet returned to the office since the start of the pandemic.

About Gensler

Gensler is a global architecture, design, and planning firm with 53 locations and more than 7,000 professionals networked across the Americas, Europe, Greater China, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East. Founded in 1965, the firm works globally with more than 4,000 clients across more than 29 practice areas spanning the work, lifestyle, community, and health sectors. We are guided by our mission to create a better world through the power of design, and the source of our strength is our people. By leveraging our diversity of ideas, our research and innovation, our shared values, and our One-Firm Firm culture, we are working seamlessly as a borderless firm in 140 countries and making the greatest impact on our communities as we continue to tackle the world’s challenges.

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.

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