Home Property Australia ‘Gravity of people coming back to the office’, but some fare better than others

‘Gravity of people coming back to the office’, but some fare better than others

  • August 30, 2023
  • by Property Australia
Hassell Senior Researcher Daniel Davis

According to a recent study undertaken by global design firm Hassel, companies which have made adjustments to both their physical office environments and working approaches are enjoying a 17 per cent surge in employee satisfaction compared to establishments that have adhered rigidly to their pre-pandemic operational norms.

Great Adaptations is the fourth edition of Hassell’s annual Workplace Futures Survey, which this year interviewed 3,500 office workers across Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands. 

The report by Hassell Senior Researcher Dr Daniel Davis found that more people are working from the office this year.

“Employees are more likely to be picking the office this year than they were last year, there is this kind of gravity of people coming back,” he said.

The report found companies that have made changes to their offices and ways of working since the pandemic have a 17 per cent higher satisfaction score among employees than those that haven’t. 

Mr Davis said there isn’t one universal change that all companies are making, with it depending on a variety of factors like a company’s management style, growth trajectory and industry.

“You can’t just take one set of things that another company has done and roll it out into your organisation and expect that will have the same performance,” he said.

“We do see some things that make a difference, like, if you don’t have the basics of the office right, having space to focus, having space to collaborate, having the right technology, people are much more likely to be working from home.”

This is true especially when comparing the results of a global wide survey. 

“In Australia, we do see some variation,” he said. “There’s particularly a lot of regional variation in terms of where people are working.

“I think it’s pretty well documented that Melbourne and Sydney experienced the pandemic in very different way to how Perth experienced it, where they were more isolated from it.

“I think you see that in Australia quite a lot. And that is also reflective of what you see globally as well.

“In places like the United States and the United Kingdom, they both experienced the pandemic very differently to say China, or Australia or Singapore,” he said. 

Mr Davis said research coming out of the US or the UK are not necessarily representative of the rest of the world as a result. Except for China, no country is on track to return to pre-pandemic levels of office work, the report said.

The report noted that even with the increases in office work, hybrid remains popular, as does working from home but also noted that if all you want to do is bring people back to the office, mandating that they return is effective.

However, the Mr Davis said this can come at the detriment to other factors, like productivity and retention.

People who could choose where they worked were much more likely to pick the office this year, the report found. 

Most adopt a hybrid schedule, working partly from home and partly from the office. But a quarter of them (28 per cent) choose to work exclusively from an office.

This is up significantly from the 18 per cent who did so last year. Over the same period, the number working from home has fallen to 16 per cent, down from 31 per cent last year.

There are three main reasons people say they’re picking their office: it’s easier to communicate, they feel more productive, and the technology is better.