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Workers looking to return to offices as homeworking fatigue grows: JLL survey

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Real estate firm’s survey shows work-life balance is now number one priority for employees

Employees are seeking more balance in their work patterns, with the office re-emerging as the primary place of work post-pandemic, as home-working fatigue grows and productivity levels decline, according to JLL’s latest Worker Preference Barometer out on Tuesday.

A survey of 1,500 respondents across the Asia Pacific reveals that appetite for working in the office post-pandemic has grown to three days a week, compared to only two days in a similar survey JLL conducted last year.

The data indicates that 68 per cent of respondents wish to work in a hybrid model, having the flexibility to switch between the office, home and third-party locations versus 74 per cent in October 2020.

Six out of 10 believe they are more productive in the office than at home compared to 54 per cent a year ago.

“What we’re observing is that people crave the social interaction and professional work environment that the office provides,” JLL Asia Pacific CEO Anthony Couse said.

“One in two employees miss the face-to-face collaboration with colleagues, as well as access to efficient infrastructure, including good internet connectivity, ergonomic workstations and collaboration areas,” he said.

“We’re also seeing that working from home in the long run makes people feel stuck in an endless day of virtual meetings and work, without clear boundaries which enable them to disconnect properly. This has taken a social and mental toll on some,” Couse said.

JLL’s research shows that more than half of respondents feel overwhelmed by a huge mental load and are worried about job security, while the majority of young parents (60 per cent) said they have many responsibilities to cope with and are becoming disenchanted with work.

“Companies have to pay closer attention to the health and well-being of their employees now more than ever. With 90 per cent of the workforce wanting more flexibility in choosing where and when to work, work-life balance is now being ranked as the top priority, ahead of salary, and this should be considered by employers if they want to attract and retain talent,” Couse said.

Human-first offices are the best way to welcome employees back

According to the survey, 92 per cent of employees who are highly satisfied with their office environment strongly miss their offices. However, office satisfaction has also dropped significantly as employees now have renewed expectations of their office environment.

“Apart from work-life balance and salary, the pandemic has driven people to focus on what matters most in their work lives – a desire for spaces that create a strong sense of community and culture,” said Kamya Miglani, director of Work Dynamics Research at JLL Asia Pacific.

The survey reveals that employees are now looking at health and wellness programmes, sustainability, learning and development, and diversity and inclusion initiatives as some of the top factors that will attract them to join or stay with an employer.

“As we start to navigate out of the pandemic, companies have an opportunity to leverage their physical office spaces to become more human-centric in supporting the employees’ diverse, evolving needs and working styles,” Miglani added.

“The office is here to stay,” noted Michael Glancy, country head of JLL in Thailand. “As businesses start to implement their new real estate strategies, Bangkok is in a prime position to lead the new way of working on both the landlord and occupier sides in Southeast Asia,” he said.

“The abundance of high-specification new office supply coming to the market and a growing number of older buildings that will be upgraded to meet more sophisticated needs of occupiers are making it more viable for companies to create a better workplace and an exciting new way of working for their people,” Glancy added.

Published : July 14, 2021

By : The Nation