The state of the return to the office

How is the return to the office going? Are companies returning to the office? What do employees think about returning to the office? Let’s take a deep dive into the data surrounding the return to the office.

 

2022 has been the year where companies began their return to the office in earnest. Companies like Twitter, Google and Apple announced that they would implement hybrid work as part of their return strategy, and many other companies have been following suit.

But even after major corporations announced their strategies, policies, and plans for hybrid work, the state of the return to the office is still shrouded in questions.

What are the main concerns of employees when it comes to the return to the office? How do they want to return to the office? Are they using their reopened offices at all?

We gathered data on everything surrounding the state of the return to the office, to answer those questions, and now we’re giving it all away for free.

 

Are employees returning to the office?

The data displayed in the graph at the beginning of this article is collected from organizations in 38 different countries and displays the development in meeting room bookings per month. This seems to suggest that offices are seeing more use now than they did during 2020 and 2021 and are even breaking 2019 numbers.

But meeting room bookings aren’t the only thing we can look at to answer where teams are working from.

Data from the State of Teams 2022 Report shows that offices all over the world are being used more in 2022 than they did in 2021.[1]

With the number of hybrid workers almost doubling within the last year there’s good reason to look at how offices are being used.

 

How do we use the office after covid?

That offices are seeing an increase in use is one thing, but how they are being used is just as important, and with a 153% increase in meetings[2] for the average employee, there’s a good chance that what employees need when they come back to the office will be different than it was before the pandemic.

The return to the office is more than just going back to the office

When you decide to return to the office, there’s the question of how you return to the office. Are you going to return to the office full-time, or are you going with a hybrid work model? Many companies favor the hybrid model, and with good reason. If you look at the data from a recent survey carried out in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Nordics, and the UK, the hybrid work model addresses some of the concerns that employees have, when it comes to returning to the office.[3]

What is the role of the office now?

The one thing everyone seems to be able to agree on when it comes to the role of the office in the future is that the office needs to be an experience. The office needs to offer an alternative to the focused work environment of the home office.

In the current market, there are two different schools of thought on how to achieve this.

  1. The office should offer an environment where employees can socialize and collaborate,
  2. The office should be an experience separate from daily work

Making an office where employees can socialize and collaborate is a good approach, but it makes two assumptions.

First, it assumes that each employee has the space in their private homes to create a space that lets them carry out focused work. And secondly, it assumes that collaboration is more difficult for remote teams, which isn’t always the case.

Rethinking the office and making it an experience can take a lot of different forms. One example is Salesforce and its Trailblazer Ranch.

The company wanted to help staff reconnect after two full years of working remotely. To achieve that, the company has equipped a 75-acre ranch property in California with an outdoor amphitheater, communal kitchen, fitness and learning centers as well as conference rooms.[5]

Which version of the office is the future depends on the company and employees in question. But one thing seems to be certain, the office is not dead. It is, however, changing.

Data

The data on this page is gathered from two sources. One source is our meeting room booking software, Pronestor Planner. This data represents several hundred thousand monthly bookings made in more than 1100 companies in over 38 different countries.

The data concerning the state of hybrid work is gathered from the Owl Labs report titled “State of Hybrid Work 2022: Europe” which is a survey with 10,000 respondents from France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Nordics, and the United Kingdom. Respondents were evenly distributed between men and women, and different industries as well as company sizes, roles, and age brackets were represented in the survey.

 

References

[1] https://www.atlassian.com/blog/state-of-teams-2022#trends-worth-tracking

[2] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/great-expectations-making-hybrid-work-work

[3] https://owllabs.eu/state-of-hybrid-work-emea/2022

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jun/06/thousands-workers-worlds-biggest-trial-four-day-week

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/11/salesforce-california-luxury-ranch-employees

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