While scrolling through my LinkedIn, I stumbled on a survey by marketer Sandra Parker where she polled employees’ sentiment towards their future working conditions.

The question mainly revolved around remote work and how many days employees would prefer to spend at the office. To date, the poll garnered more than 108,713 responses from LinkedIn users who work in different industries. There was a pretty impressive response rate in a short time, a clear sign of how the topic is on everyone’s mind.

Employee's wishes for a workplace

Pie chart of employee sample size workspace wishes

Reading: The key takeaway is that there is no going back to the pre-pandemic work model; at least, that is the case to most workers:

  • 44% would prefer never going back to their “dreaded cubicles,” including managers.
  • 47% would instead choose to work between 2 to 3 days in a workspace.
  • Less than 9% of respondents wished to go back to the office for four days or full-time.

Although it is a current snapshot taken more than a year and a half since the pandemic started, the results echo findings of a much broader study from Statistics Canada on Working from home: Productivity and preferences

What would happen if we tried to please everyone?

We developed a hypothetical scenario that assumed all respondents worked in a single organization. If this organization wanted to align its policies with these employees’ wishes for workspace, it could reap immediate benefits on its triple bottom line.

If catered to, this sample would require fewer workstations throughout the organization’s offices. Only 32,759 workstations would be necessary to accommodate the total 108,713 employees, meaning the company only requires 30% of its capacity if they were all hosted on-premises before.

Based on the current workstations costs in cities like Montreal, the company would save close to 70% of its premise’s annual rental budget, going from approximately 764.6M$ to 230.4M$.

Cost-saving could be extended even further by mixing rented office spaces and co-working spaces. For instance, a 50/50 mix between the two would reduce the rental budget to 154.5M$, while using exclusively co-working spaces would only cost 78.6M$.

On remote work and its future

Embracing remote work has not been a smooth sail for all who tried their hands at it. Companies that had some form of remote work before the Coronavirus hit had a probably easier time transitioning. As long as productivity is “guaranteed,” these would have no issue adjusting their current practices with a hybrid work model.

However, organizations that made the sudden switch out of necessity may have had mixed experiences and not seen the potential of flexible work arrangements. Implementation can be tricky, and doing it out of necessity in a short time frame may not have produced the optimal settings.

Applying agile concepts to workplace policies seems necessary for organizations to align their resources with their employee’s actual needs. Part of the solution can be found by:

  • Building attractive workspaces optimized to assist employee productivity
  • Continuously evaluating the adhesion of these people to the commodities offered on-premises

How are companies looking at life post-pandemic?

The employee’s personal sentiment will certainly influence company’s policies toward remote work, and according to recent news, these have diverged vastly. A lot of technology-heavy companies have embraced remote work long term, as listed by By Emily Courtney.

Others in different fields, such as automaker Stellantis or the Royal Bank of Canada, are launching hybrid work initiatives. In contrast, some such as Goldman Sachs mainly decided against any form of remote work.

Only the future holds the answer to who is taking the right approach here. However, going ultimately against employee wishes can backfire, as seen by the significant number of people deciding to find new employment elsewhere.

What would be a mistake is to shape the future of work without fully implementing some of the benefits reaped. For instance, tasks that are not meetings or group work can be performed very efficiently remotely, either at home, a coffee shop, or the closest co-working space.

Our global experience clearly shows that we crave an agile lifestyle to balance life’s new responsibilities and that there is no need to be behind the same workstation 8 hours a day. Accommodating talent needs is the best way to support and retain them, especially when technological tools can make work seamless from anywhere.

Ultimately, each industry and corporate culture will create its own recipe. That each organisation will discover it’s own best practices according to their people and organisational needs…There is no right answer since every happy company is unique!

Authored by the MySeat team