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Two employees find informal space to meet as they return to the office

Fall 2023 Tests Return to Office Plans

  • One million workers are scheduled to Return to Office (RTO) this fall.
  • Industry analysts point to Fall 2023 as the true test of office hybrid plans.
  • CRE leaders require the right data in order to restack or reshape spaces.

Workplace Trend Summary

Finally, there is consensus. Industry experts agree that trains, offices, and your company meeting spaces will be more heavily utilized this fall – reaching more than 80% of our pre-pandemic rates.

Of course, there’s a hook. That number is for some days, at some companies.

JLL says CEOs throughout their global portfolio have drawn up attendance policies for 1.5 million workers. But the hybrid week – 2.5 days in the office – a number first surfaced in a 2021 survey of 50,000 Americans – is still cited as the ideal working situation in most surveys.

Adding to the complexity is that office preferences vary by age group, with many younger employees wanting their “first-job experience” in the office. Then there’s reporting structures, distance to the home office, and company culture to consider. One thing is for sure: CEO mandates aren’t working. There’s now a long list of companies and CEOs who have quietly back-pedaled their initial strong-arm approaches.

A Forbes story on the risks of mandating Return to Office policies cited a Synchrony Financial C-suite quote: “When employers dictate which days employees have to be in the office and which days they can work from home, they are stripping employees of self-determination and telling them that they don’t trust them to deliver.”

Workplace Experience Questions to Answer

What’s one thing that hasn’t changed since the first few people trickled back to the office? The top 5 questions Gallup suggests Workplace Experience and Human Resources should ask.

  1. Where are employees working now, and where will they work in the future?
  2. What happens if organizations do not support remote flexibility?
  3. Why do many remote-ready employees prefer hybrid work?
  4. What will the future workweek look like?
  5. How can we make hybrid work more productive and engaging?

Corporate Real Estate Questions to Answer

One EY report summed up the pressure on CRE leaders now: “Out of necessity, many employers have been operating hastily implemented hybrid work setups and real estate portfolios that were designed for pre-2020 conditions, resulting in a significant amount of wasted space. Now is the time to develop new hybrid workplace strategies that can strengthen resilience, improve both environmental and financial performance, and enhance the employee experience.”

Whether the goal is to reduce footprint or find new flex or swing space, there are a handful of questions that CRE leaders require answers to now:

  1. What is my average occupancy rate?
  2. When are my offices utilized least and most?
  3. How do my reservations and expectations line up with actual occupancy?
  4. Which zones or departments require collaborative spaces?
  5. Where should I divest or expand corporate leases?

Occupancy Analytics reveal usage patterns over time in buildings, floors, and offices. With reliable data, strategic space planners can remain agile and plan for a dynamic workforce.

Lambent Spaces helps corporate customers reshape, resize, and restack buildings by revealing occupancy and utilization trends and patterns. To learn more, book a demo.

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