Work in 2024: Productivity Trends of Office Workers & Spaces
Asia/ Urbanite/ Commercial

4 Productivity Trends in 2024: Hybrid Setups, Intuitive Spaces, and More

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One of the starkest differences between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic times has been the work setup. Before 2020, most were accustomed to coming into the office five times a week, now, most offices have adapted a hybrid work setup. But that’s not the only difference that’s come to pass during those unpredictable years.

Work trends are ever-evolving and research done by Gensler Singapore, a global design and architecture firm, has proven that personal choice and even spatial design influence how people work. Surveying and studying people from different continents – from Singapore and the Philippines in Southeast Asia, Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Middle East, UK and Germany from Europe, Canada and the United States (US) from North America, and Mexico from South America – Gensler has found some interesting work trends and implications that may help team effectivity and productivity.

During the ULI Philippines Annual Conference 2024 held at Shangri-la The Fort in Manila, Gensler Client Relationship Director Carlos Venegas shared several interesting insights from their 2023 Global Workplace Survey:

Global workers are mobile, spending only half of of their time at the office

Woman working from home

It comes as no surprise that the modern worker is an agile worker. These days, it’s easier to stay connected and thereby, flexible. For countries across the world, the trend has consistently shown that most people spend between 45 to 50 percent of their time at the office. The second most popular place to work is at home, followed by other sites such as a co-working space, on business travel, or in a third space such as a café or library.

It seems then that despite the popularity of the work from home setup, that the office space is also here to stay. This is particularly true for those working in certain sectors such as government and defense or finance. Employees from those sectors for more likely to spend time in the office than those in media, not-for-profit, or sciences whose work often entails travelling.

Workers who prefer to go to the office list “focus” as the top reason for doing so

People returning to the office do so to focus

During the pandemic, most office workers were required to work from home for safety and health reasons. At this time, the most important reason to come into the office had been to work in-person with colleagues, making social connection an important factor for return to office endeavours. This seemed to be particularly important for younger people than older employees.

However, these days, a different pattern is emerging. Across Asian, American, and European countries, the reason many workers prefer to return is “to focus on my work.” For collectivist countries such as Singapore and the Philippines, employees prioritise professional development opportunities and mentorship engagement while individualist countries such as the US rank access to technology and in-person meetings as more important.

Most workers spend majority of their time working with others

People spend majority of their time working with others

The fact remains that most work is done as a team. Though each person may have individual tasks or deliverables to accomplish, Gensler’s report shows that most people across the world use an average of 40 percent of their time working with others.

Segmenting work into five different modes that comprise of working alone, working with others in-person, working with others virtually, learning and professional development, and socialisation (which also includes networking), Gensler found that in all countries, working with others (both virtually and in-person) outweighs the times of working alone. This is particularly true for Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, where only 28 percent of the time is spent working alone and 44 percent is spent working with others, either virtually or in-person.

This finding highlights the importance of connectedness within the team and perhaps even emphasises the reason as to why the office space itself continues to find longevity amid a world of digital nomads.

Having a variety of spaces in the work area results in higher performance

A variety of spaces is necessary to achieve peak effectivity

Gensler has found that there are four kinds of spaces that best support workplace experience and effectiveness. These include: quiet individual workspaces such as libraries and focus rooms, connect and recharge areas such as office gyms or cafes, places for creative group work, and sites where one can reflect or rest.

Having a mix of all four spaces will result in higher performance and effectivity from workers as these promote positive impacts on a worker’s personal health, wellbeing, and work-life balance. Of course, workplaces such as these are often found in amenity-rich neighbourhoods, which gives bigger companies an advantage over smaller ones especially considering price of real estate per city.

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