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Survey: tech, flex space will bring employees back to the office, not fancy amenities

It’s been understood for some time now that if companies want to encourage employees to return to their offices, amenities are likely going to be a part of the deal. However, companies are quickly learning that not just any amenities will do the trick, Commercial Observer reports. A recent Essensys survey revealed that employees overwhelmingly prefer good in-house technology and flexible workstations over more flashy building amenities.

Essensys, a commercial real estate building software firm that services office buildings and flexible office space, surveyed 1,000 U.S. office employees in August. The company’s survey revealed that 81 percent of respondents were unhappy with their current office experience. Employees also noted that tech and flexible workstations were much more likely to get them to return to the office than more superficial amenities.

Additionally, 56 percent of respondents said that their office’s technology enhanced their ability to work. Fifty-two percent noted they envied other buildings’ available technology. Building-wide Wi-Fi, sensor-controlled lighting and climate control were among the tech solutions employees are seeking from their office buildings, according to the survey. Respondents also said they’re interested in accessing space and services across a network of locations.

Free perks aren’t as enticing anymore

Free coffee, beer and massage rooms don’t have the pull they used to when it comes to attracting employees to an office, according to the survey. Just 20 percent of respondents said amenities like these were a factor in getting them to return to the office. Meanwhile, of the 63 percent who said they valued tech and flex space more, 34 percent noted the convenience of space and layout. Another 27 percent said they like being able to work at different stations and 26 percent seek more reliable Wi-Fi.

“I think what (the survey) is saying is that in this hybrid work world that we now live in, when people can come back to the office, they just want to make sure they can actually be productive and get to work,” said Jeremy Bernard, CEO of North America for Essensys. “And when you add challenges logging into a network, booking conference rooms or finding a place to be, I think that creates a level of friction and frustration with the actual back-to-work move and creates challenges.”

Bernard also noted that employees would return to their offices if they were offered a “seamless experience” of technology and multiple areas to work within their space.

“(Most employees want to have) that seamless experience, being able to just go in, open up your laptop and get to work and not have to worry about logins, and ‘Is there a room I can work out of,’” he said.

In the future, landlords will likely adapt to tenants’ demands and shift their office and flex space, according to Bernard.

“I think the more landlords are adopting new technologies and putting the digital backbones in their buildings, the more they will mitigate a lot of these concerns from workers, ultimately,” he said. “So, I think as long as landlords continue to adopt and evolve their technologies, whether it’s in a new building or a 100-year-old building, they can potentially make those numbers go down.”


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