Article | Evolving Workforces

The Future of the Office

2021 U.S. Occupier Sentiment Survey

24 Jun 2021 5 Minute Read

woman using a tablet in an office

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What do occupiers think about the future of the office and work as we enter the "next normal"?

Well over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, office occupiers remain focused in the near term on workplace health and safety while keeping an eye on potential long-term changes in office usage.

These insights come from our most recent occupier sentiment survey, conducted in Spring 2021, which follows a number of sentiment surveys conducted throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Our latest survey highlights what occupiers are doing to facilitate a return to the office and accommodate new ways of working accelerated by the pandemic. It also shows a consensus among the C-Suite that this moment presents an opportunity to transform the physical office in ways once reserved for blue-sky thinking.

Breakdown of Data

*Survey closed April 2021

Five Trends to Watch in the Second Half of 2021

01. The return to the office is here and will accelerate in Q3 2021

Companies are actively planning to bring their employees back to the office—and many have already started the process. Our data shows that office occupancy across the U.S. will gradually increase starting this summer and accelerate in Q3.

When will a more normal state of activity resume?

02. Employers will encourage their employees to get vaccinated.

Employers don’t plan to mandate vaccinations. But they do plan to use their influence to educate their employees on the benefits of vaccinations to create a safer workplace experience.

What COVID testing or vaccine-related support are you providing your employees?

03. Companies will define workplace policies around hybrid work and employee flexibility

As employees return to the office, the reality vs. expectation around hybrid work and flexible work arrangements will come into focus. Companies will define these policies and leverage employee feedback to solidify their approach.

Looking ahead, which best describes your workplace policy intentions in a steady state for most of your employees?

04. Occupiers will prioritize investments in collaborative office designs

By and large, companies are looking to develop more collaborative office spaces to help employees work together in-person. Some changes will be more immediate, such as an enhanced video conferencing.

What will be the most in demand building amenity of the future?

05. Tangible experience will clarify future workplace decisions.

Companies will largely evaluate the challenges and benefits of new work styles before making transformative workplace decisions. Short-term renewals favored in 2020, coupled with the normal lease expiration cycle, will allow for real changes in portfolio strategies and workplace investments.

Which of the following best describes your long-term expectations for the total size of your portfolio over the next three years?

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