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Office space: Here’s what employees want in 2022

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As businesses worldwide begin to adapt their flexible working policies for the new year, we take a look at what employees are demanding from the office in 2022.

Throughout the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home mandates meant that ‘working from anywhere (WFA)’ was the norm for most across the globe. Swapping the desk for the sofa, office workers benefitted from the opportunity for increased leisure and family time and enjoyed the flexibility that homeworking provides.

Nevertheless, the blurring of boundaries between work and home life that result from WFA was also a major source of feelings of isolation, stress, and burnout for many over the past year.

“As employees transition from work-from-home to a post-pandemic future, people are expecting their employers to be more caring and their workplace to offer a new regenerative experience,” said Flore Pradère, global research director for JLL Work Dynamics.

Backed up by data from the JLL Regenerative Workplace report and office worker survey, these are the top three employee expectations.

1. RELAXATION AND WELLBEING SPACES

When we think of our workplace, ‘relaxing’ may not be the first word that springs to mind. However, research from Dale office interiors shows that one in five people believe that having more spaces to relax in or work away from their desks would not only improve their office experience but would also increase their productivity at work. That’s a win-win!

Similarly, 45 percent of JLL survey respondents named relaxation spaces as one of their top three expectations in the office. Many see these areas as essential to maintaining mental wellbeing and sustainable performance.

Unilever, for instance, recently introduced ‘quiet rooms’ and ‘wellbeing zones’ consisting of different areas designed for snacking, resting, stretching, and connecting. According to Mike Clementi, Vice President of HR at Unilever, the zone’s purpose is “to provide our people with a space for mindfulness, meditation, rest and recovery.”

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2. HEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS 

Whether it’s the mid-morning coffee, afternoon snack, or lunch break, food and drink is often something to look forward to throughout the workday. It’s no surprise then that 44 percent of workers placed healthy food services as their second ranking expectation from the office.

“Flexible work requires flexible eating options,” said Ben Tindale, Managing Director of Accounts, JLL Work Dynamics – Australasia. “With traditional one-hour lunch breaks almost redundant, full main dishes are being trimmed in favour of high-quality, easier to eat options like sushi or burgers with barista coffee and fresh juices.”

One company leading the way, Asana provides all employees with organic, sustainably farmed and fished, local meals which are designed to keep them nourished, energized and working at their best potential.

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3. OUTDOOR AND GREEN SPACES 

In third place, 41 percent of workers place outdoor spaces in their top 3 office must-haves. Here’s why: outdoor spaces and nature are clinically proven to boost wellbeing and happiness, relieve stress, and release endorphins. For employers too, designing green offices provides more opportunities for sustainability and eco-friendliness – a top priority for many companies today.

“There are huge variations in the type of outdoor space businesses can provide, but encouraging workers to take a break from the indoors can be done by providing benches and tables outdoors, enabling easy entries and exits to outdoor spaces, or designing garden areas where possible,” Tindale said.

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