One of the biggest takeaways from 2022 is that workplaces aren’t going anywhere. More than half of workplace leaders (54%) invested more in the workplace in 2022 than in 2021, a sign that a physical footprint remains important for team building and collaboration, according to a new report from Envoy. The At Work: 2023 workplace trends report is a comprehensive state of the physical workplace compiled and designed for workplace leaders around the world.
The physical workplace, especially a corporation’s headquarters, is the identity and soul of worklife that provides an emotional connection to a brand, and often is a source of pride for both leadership and employees, according to Envoy.
“Great things happen when people work together onsite,” said Larry Gadea, the company’s CEO and Founder. “And we’re seeing that in our data. More people are coming in and collaborating as teams. When employers take the bold step to bring employees back to the workplace on a regular basis, we’ll see big wins for their businesses and their people because nothing can replace in-person togetherness.”
“When employers take the bold step to bring employees back to the workplace on a regular basis, we’ll see big wins for their businesses and their people because nothing can replace in-person togetherness.”
— Larry Gadea, Envoy
The At Work report dives into Envoy’s proprietary platform data, analyzing tens of millions of global workplace sign-ins, as well as desks and meeting room reservations. It weaves in survey data from hundreds of workplace leaders from technology, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, professional services, and media organizations. It also answers questions that are top of mind for workplace leaders: How are people using their office space? Where are workplace dollars going? And what investments are on the table for this year?
Key takeaways include:
- In 2022, people returning to the workplace increased but foot traffic was far from consistent. Workplace foot traffic grew by 37% in 2022 over the previous year. Yet, there was a lot of volatility throughout the year, which was likely the result of the economic downturn, shifting attendance policies, and expected holiday lulls.
- On average, the number of hybrid-first employees going into the workplace weekly jumped by 164% in 2022. 82% of employees visiting the workplace in a given week were hybrid-first,¹ which is defined as going onsite one to three days. Meanwhile 18% were office-first.¹ These employees showed up to the office more than three days in a given week.
- Companies are banking on new workplace investments. 82% of leaders invested in their workplaces last year. 54% set aside more money for their workplaces in 2022 compared to 2021 while 28% invested the same amount. Despite macroeconomic challenges, these organizations recognized the value and importance of preparing spaces that will strengthen the business, improve company culture, and maximize employee productivity.
- Investment in office efficiency is top of mind for workplace leaders. Of those that made more investments in their workplace last year, 63% of leaders said they invested in conferencing technology, such as monitors and cameras, to improve communication between those remote and those onsite. 50% invested in onsite events and programs; 36% into visitor management; and 27% into space management. Even with headlines proclaiming a commercial real estate slowdown, nearly a quarter (24%) invested in real estate expansion last year.
- This year, workplace leaders plan to spend their budgets on making sure employees have a great experience onsite. 36% are planning for more onsite events and programs and 24% will be providing more food.
- 83% of companies reconfigured their workspace to optimize for employee experience. Many added more collaboration spaces (36%), more desks (23%) and more meeting rooms (22%). 19% made cost-saving decisions and reduced their real estate footprint with fewer desks (11%) and meeting rooms (4%).
- More than half (58%) of meeting rooms are booked a month or more in advance. 33% are booked the day-of, allowing for impromptu or spontaneous meetings.
- Despite 81% of employees scheduling their office days the morning before heading in or even as they’re walking up to the front door, 58% of meeting rooms are still booked a month or more in advance. Employees know they need to reserve coveted meeting space ahead of time – especially recurring meetings – to prevent wrangling for space at the last minute.
“While leaders may not agree on how to spend their workplace budgets, there is a common thread,” Gadea added. “The success of their business depends on their people. And there’s no better place to bring your people together to solve problems, to collaborate, to ideate, to celebrate wins, and to get work done, than a familiar workplace.”
Flexible Work Policies Fuel Company Culture, Productivity
¹ Hybrid-first and office-first are calculated by looking at the frequency with which an employee visited an office on any given week. The numbers can vary from week to week.