With office attendance and usage now a matter of policy and choice – both corporate and individual – companies are balancing various factors to transform their working practices and portfolios for the future.
CBRE’s 2023 European Office Occupier Sentiment Survey canvassed the views of over 130 companies on a range of issues including:
- Return to the office
- Future workplace policies
- Portfolio optimisation
- Attitudes to flex office space
- Influences on location and building choice decisions
- The organisational drivers behind specific policy decisions
Key findings we believe will feature strongly in occupiers’ decision-making in 2023 and beyond
1. Office return rates are still low but with scope to rise – policies are tightening and becoming more prescriptive
Nearly half of the respondents report 40% or lower office attendance, but many seek to secure further increases, mainly over the coming year. And two-thirds have some level of requirement for office attendance, although monitoring and enforcement are still largely informal.
With nearly 90% of companies aiming for employees to be at the office at least half the time, future policy guidelines look likely to become more prescriptive.
2. A growing focus on portfolio optimisation
Around 60% of companies expect some degree of portfolio contraction over the next three years, partly due to hybrid work, reducing their space needs. At the same time, 45% are relocating some functions into better quality space.
Lease structures are a focus area, with 41% of companies favouring shorter lease terms. Appetite for flex space continues to rise, with some occupiers prepared to consider higher allocations of flex office space than has been the case in the past.
3. Accessibility is defining location strategies, and sustainability is driving building selection
Public transport access is by some distance the most important factor in selecting locations (80%). This is followed by car parking (57%), with other “ease of commute” factors such as electric vehicle charging points (48%) and bike or scooter storage (38%) also prominent.
Among the factors that drive specific building selection, sustainable features continue their rise and are becoming visibly more important (55% vs 44% last year and 37% the year before that).
4. Changing workstyles are driving office design
With companies striving to provide more fluid and collaborative seating arrangements, desk-sharing ratios higher than 2:1 go from 7% currently to 24% in two years’ time.
There is a strong focus on the technologies needed to support the transition towards new workstyles: around two-thirds of companies rated enhanced video conferencing and room booking software as the top three technology priorities.
5. People-centric goals are at the forefront of corporate real estate strategies
Engagement, motivation, productivity and facilitating team performance are the watchwords for future of work (FoW) policies. And it has a big change-management component. Managing change through partnering across HR, IT, real estate etc., is the most prevalent (68%), with employee engagement via surveys, focus groups etc., at 55%.
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