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Hassell discovers office transformations lift workplace mood

Hassell discovers office transformations lift workplace mood


In a new report conducted by the global design practice Hassell, it was revealed that companies that have tweaked both office spaces and work methodologies have a 17 percent higher satisfaction rate among employees than offices that have stuck to pre-pandemic routines. 

This year’s report, tilted Great Adaptations: 2023 Workplace Futures Survey, marks the fourth time Hassell has completed its annual workplace survey.  

From interviewing 3500 office workers across Australia, China, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, the report, led by Hassell senior researcher Doctor Daniel Davis, discovered the latest in workplace trends – mainly how companies are navigating the advent of the ‘hybrid office’.

One of the main takeaways is that 2023 has coincided with an increase in full-time office-based work, spearheaded by employees willingly returning to high-performing and productive offices. 

Suncorp headquarters by Hassell, photography by David Chatfield.

Additionally, Dr Davis said the report recognised patterns between countries that endured the longest pandemic-era lockdowns. 

“The US, UK and Melbourne, Australia are home to the largest number of ‘reluctant returners’ – employees who prefer working from home over coming into the office,” says Davis. 

Davis spoke of the research team’s surprise regarding, how although a looming recession and a narrowed labour market toys with job security, people are still opting to work from home more often, or at least split their working week between home and the office. 

“The report challenges some areas of emerging consensus – particularly that if you fear losing your job, you’d be in the office more to prove your value to your organisation, but in many areas worldwide, that’s not the case,” says Davis.

Primary takeaways

Alongside the finding that hybrid work may come to resemble the ‘new norm’, the report also revealed how workplaces that altered office lifestyle behaviours scored a higher satisfaction rating. 

Redefining ways of working 

Companies that made even the simplest changes to office layouts or approached ways of working differently reported a 17 percent higher satisfaction score than offices that remained with pre-pandemic habits. Changes include offering employees complimentary lunches, investing in quality hot beverages and encouraging office-breaks to go for a walk and get fresh air. 

Appeal of a bustling surrounding area 

The vast majority of office workers interviewed agreed that returning to the office is more appealing if it is located near reliable and vibrant public amenities such as grocery stores, parks, green spaces, public transport and good cafes and eateries. 

Incentive for HR and real estate collaboration

The report uncovered that when workplaces experience periods of uncertainty, companies that have overarching ‘one-size-fits-all’ coping mechanisms are far better equipped to survive instability than companies that have different policies depending on the department. 

Therefore, companies would be wise to ensure that human resources and real estate work together in times of crisis, rather than adhering to department-specific tactics. 

West Bund riverfront upgrade in Shanghai by Hassell, photography supplied by Hassell.
Successful hybrid workplaces owed to many moving parts 

Dr Davis emphasises that a successfully functioning hybrid workplace relies on companies developing policies and principles that consider the diverse and multifaceted requirements of a workforce. 

“Companies need to be getting the basics right – something that many offices fail to do – by providing the right spaces for collaborative and focused work,” says Davis. 

If Hassell’s report revealed anything, it’s that workplaces should prioritise offering an array of amenities such as complimentary food and good coffee – alongside facilitating opportunities for outdoor walks and breaks – that not only aim to satisfy the unique needs of every employee, yet contribute to a workplace culture grounded in inclusivity and engagement. 

“A well-rounded selection of offerings will produce an enriched hybrid workplace that transcends conventional expectations,” says Davis. 

Hassell hopes the report’s findings herald in the era of the “great adaptation” – that is, the ongoing pursuit towards making work flexible, manageable, and an enjoyable and productive place to be. 

Featured Image: NAB Place Headquarters, Melbourne CBD, by Hassell. Photography by Nicole England.

Check out the recent IDEA Gold medal panel event investigating ‘Designing for Workplace Wellness.’

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