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Making it work while going back to the office

  • Workplace Data & Insights

Article by Justin Timmer published in FMJ Magazine, IFMA's official magazine - January/February 2021

Justin Timmer is our In-House Researcher. Contact him via

workplace analytics

Using employee behaviour to create effective space

Employees have lost the workplace that physically connected them to their organization. The online way of working caused them to miss out on small talk, gossip, chemistry, and empathy. All these are essential to sustain the social bond between colleagues. Nevertheless, recent surveys have shown that employees and managers are quite positive about the effectiveness of remote working. BCG reported a 15-40% increase in productivity, another poll showed 65% of employees believed remote working was more effective. However, there are also many signs of employees struggling with their well-being. Their (improvised) home offices have led to many distractions and complaints with ergonomics. Remote workers feel unable to unplug from work because the borders between work and life have become blurred. Many employees experience difficulties dividing their attention between family and their work. Meanwhile, single employees experience a sense of loneliness and a general lack of purpose.

Going back to the office

It seems that based on these remote experiences, several employees want, and/or their managers want their employees, to return to the office. They miss effectively collaborating and being connected to their employees, even though individual remote work seemed to be quite effective. Nevertheless, several organizations have touted remote working is here to stay. A survey across business leaders found 82% plan to maintain a partial work-from-home structure even after COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

Employees won’t go back to the office full time, but the question remains, what will the division be between the office and remote working? It is likely that employees will come to the office to connect and collaborate with their colleagues while doing most of their individual work from home. The number of days employees will spend at the office will have a great effect on the occupancy of space. While the activities on these days will have a high impact on the need for specific spaces. Effectively managing the space in size and function, can improve productivity through addressing the needs of employees and saving money through closing spaces when possible.

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