Private spaces for focused work key to office productivity

Employers need to offer their staff areas of the office where they can concentrate on their work, according to research into hybrid working.

Commercial property giant JLL’s “Hybrid Work Decoded” report analyzed how workers are splitting their time between home and the office, surveying more than 5,000 people in 15 countries.

The research found that people on average are now spending more than half of the week (2.8 days) in the office but find “focused work” easier to do from home. In the UK this number was 2.6 days.

Focused work typically accounts for around 55% of staff time according to the report suggesting that employers need to offer flexibility and private space to allow focused work when people come to the workplace.

Sue Asprey Price, CEO of JLL’s Workplace Dynamics consultancy said: “This is a fascinating insight into how office workers are making decisions about how best to work in the new hybrid environment. It is clear most people value the office for the social and collaborative elements of the job and are choosing to spend more than half of the week there. “

The research found that employees’s expectations had reach an equilibrium, with workers envisaging working 2.7 days in the office in the future, while they are working 2.8 days in the office currently.

JLL said that many employers have listened and responded to employee expectations and their appetite for hybrid work is now well-satisfied.

“We also know 55% of our week is on ‘focused work’ and we need to make sure people can do this effectively in the office,” added Asprey Price. “This means private working space away from the office chatter that allows people to concentrate.”

She explained that perceptions of noise after the pandemic as people became accustomed to working changed from a quieter environment. Only 28% of respondents believed the office is the best place for focused work.

“This presents a challenge for the industry to make sure new and redesigned offices offer a choice of spaces to support different activities. Both collaboration and focused work need to be accommodated. This means providing enough comfortable workstations with suitable acoustics which accommodate the need for privacy and reviewing inefficient desk and meeting room booking systems ”she said.

The benchmarking report also found:

  • Employees in France are working in the office most – typically 3.5 days compared to just 2.3 days in Germany
  • Tuesday is the most popular day to work in the office, while Friday is least popular
  • Working hours in the office are only slightly higher than working hours at home
  • The key drivers on returning to the office are social interaction, collaboration, and technology support, while work-life balance and wellbeing are WFH strengths.

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