What do workers need and expect in today's era of hybrid work?

New Steelcase global research explores what people need and expect in today’s era of hybrid work. Capturing insights from nearly 5,000 employees in 11 countries, the report offers an in-depth view of how work is fundamentally changing and the importance of the office.

Organisations around the world are facing a talent crisis and eroding trust amongst colleagues, thanks to the physical separation experienced over the last two years.

“What people really want is to feel valued and feel a sense of belonging to their organisation.”

This new study reveals how the office can help. It highlights what workers need in this new reality and how the places people work can be a crucial part of a company’s strategy to attract and retain talent.

Download now: 'The New Era of Hybrid Work' research report3 key global research findings

1. The office plays a crucial role in how people relate to their organisation.

The research revealed that when people like working from the office they are more engaged, productive, connected to the culture, and likely to stay. It’s therefore clear that whether or not employees like being in the office can have a substantial impact.

However, across every country studied, the researchers found that more people prefer to work from home than the office. If organisations can improve the workplace experience, shift perceptions of those with no preference and win over the people who prefer to work remotely, it could offer a return on investment in terms of increased engagement, productivity, connection to the company and employee retention. 


2. Employees are willing to trade remote workdays for their own workspace in the office.

When asked to choose, more people said they’d prefer to have an assigned desk in the office and fewer days working from home, proving that hybrid work options alone don’t address employees’ overall needs. It seems that while people want the flexibility of hybrid work they are also craving choice and control and sense of belonging. 

Interestingly, workers in the UK, Australia and Canada bucked this trend, with people preferring more work from home over an assigned workspace. Perhaps having a place to call home within the workspace may encourage more employees in these countries to work from the office. This is supported by the finding that 61% of UK workers value reservable spaces in the office. The research also revealed that UK leaders are more likely to prefer the workplace than other employees - leaders who are also more likely to have a private office. 


3. Access to private spaces is more important than ever.

Leveraging the office for collaboration is critical for creating a strong culture and helping people feel a sense of belonging. But the research revealed that the office needs to do more than that. It needs to be a place that helps workers both collaborate and focus. 

Single-person enclaves for hybrid meetings, privacy and workspaces with full or partial enclosures are just as important to workers as hybrid collaboration and informal spaces to connect with colleagues. Clearly, the office must support all work modes.


How the workplace needs to change earn people’s commute

The researchers go on to discuss how the workplace can draw inspiration from the vibrant communities in which we live.

The way work happens and what matters most to employees has changed. And offices need to change to address the needs and expectations of people looking for a different experience at work.

Creating diverse neighbourhoods within the workplace is a tangible way for organisations to communicate their values and change their culture. The idea is to create the same energy and connection in the workplace that people feel sitting in a cafe or in their local library.

Neigbourhoods at work become a homebase for people and teams, offering employees the privacy and connection they are looking for. These neighbourhoods should include individual spaces, collaboration spaces, options for privacy or solitude, and areas for socialising with teammates.

“When the workplace is conceived as a community, made up of diverse neighbourhoods, it helps people by creating a sense of belonging and higher levels of trust among teammates. For organisations, neighbourhoods help attract people to the office and increase engagement and productivity.”


The new Steelcase research offers rich insights into how work is changing and why the workplace needs a new source of inspiration - community.

By addressing the key findings in this report, organisations have an opportunity to make changes to their workplaces that will have the greatest impact on their people and their business.

Download the full report:

Download now: 'The New Era of Hybrid Work' research report

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