COVID changes workplace preferences of office workers

Analysis

According to a new survey by Skanska, nowadays nearly half of office workers in CEE countries go to the office every day, and now they have specific preferences regarding their workplace, such as a quiet space and high office standards.

The study involved respondents from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania.

The survey shows that the home office is not an ideal solution in the eyes of employees when it comes to CEE in general – there are more people who would prefer to work only from the office in comparison to those who prefer only home office. Nowadays, nearly half of all employees work in the office every day (48%). As it turns out, however, the region is heading towards a hybrid model with office work dominating – every second respondent (51%) when asked for their ideal working model said that they would like to work in the office at least three or four days a week.

Offices need to offer more than before

The necessity to switch to home office has changed the way of daily routine for many people. Most employees said that the home office allows them to organize their family life easier (51%). The second most important factor that CEE respondents appreciate in remote work are good conditions at home (48%) and thirdly they mention saving time as a result of not having to commute to the office (45%).

"The pandemic has somehow outlined the future of office spaces and the evolving needs of the employees. We can see that people still prefer going to the offices, as more than half of the respondents claim they would like to work in the office nearly full-time. However, in the post-pandemic era offices will have to offer more than before – they should be better, more comfortable and interesting than what we have at home," says Arkadiusz Rudzki, executive vice president for leasing & sales at Skanska commercial development business unit in CEE.

Desired office: comfort, safety, good IT connection

Considering answers from Hungary, the most important motivator to work in the offices is a quiet workplace allowing concentration. Another attractive factor for Hungarians is a canteen at the employer’s expense and a well-stocked kitchen. Hungarian office workers are highly appreciative of the access to free parking, among all surveyed nations, they mentioned the topic the most often.

Some 40% of Hungarian respondents consider a long commute to work to be the strongest barrier between them and the office.

In all four CEE countries the top four indicators of an ideal office are very good IT equipment (34%), proper lighting (32%), food service with high-quality meals (29%), and individual rooms for work (28%).

"These expectations will transform the approach to managing office buildings with a growing focus on the hospitality aspects. Therefore, we are heading towards high-quality spaces with maximum flexibility as only the most outstanding buildings will be able to attract companies and fulfill their needs," adds Rudzki.

"This includes providing various types of spaces, e.g. a quiet place for work which requires concentration, spaces dedicated to creative work or simply socializing with the team, and services in the building – also directly on occupiers' premises – such as cafeterias, gaming rooms, yoga or Pilates classes. What’s more, we will be observing the growing importance of additional solutions, such as concierge services in the buildings – something that a few years ago was perceived as a novelty and a big distinguishing factor on the market, will soon become a standard," he notes.

Małgorzata Głos, partner in the research and analytical company Zymetria, notes, "More than half of employees would like to spend at least 3 days a week in the office. The desire to be in the office is mainly due to the possibility of working in peace and quiet. If we gave all office employees the opportunity to work in a high-standard building, they would most appreciate access to high-class IT equipment, professional lighting that does not tire the eyes, and access to restaurants with healthy food. Among the features of an ideal office, employees also mention rooms for exclusive work and green areas around the office enabling both work and rest."

The study also confirms the importance of safety issues. However, the results show that only 23% of Hungarians are worried about getting infected at the workplace.

Regarding the whole CEE region, daily disinfection of the office (41%), lower population density (37%) and non-contact solutions (37%) are the main factors that would positively affect employees’ sense of security in the offices.

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