Survey Finds Remote Work Policies Not Necessarily Good News for Flexible Workspace Providers

Remote working arrangements have become commonplace for many companies, large and small, across the world.

Although remote work policies came as a response to worker demands of more flexibility, a recent survey by Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates found that 45% of U.S. workers–and 55% of millennials–would rather work in an office setting than work remotely or from home.

According to the survey, workers prefer the workplace setting for three main reasons:

Face Time with Colleagues – A quarter of respondents report negative feelings while working from home, including feeling less a part of their team.

Privacy – 70% of U.S. Adults – and a whopping three-quarters of millennials – would feel more comfortable working in an open floor plan if there were private spaces available to them.

Convenience – Most U.S. workers – and nearly two-thirds of millennials (62%) – would prefer to work in an office that was in or near a shopping center over one that wasn’t.

These findings can have great implications for flexible workspace providers. More individuals wanting to work from an ‘office’ environment could mean a rise in demand for flexible workspace options.

Yet, Fred Schmidt, President and Chief Operating Officer of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates, doesn’t believe we should celebrate that just yet.

Below is a Q&A with Schmidt, discussing the role of workspace operators in remote work policies, how the preference toward a workplace environment might affect operators, and what workplace providers need to offer to attract remote workers to their space.

What do you believe is the role of flexible workspace operators in the remote work trend? 

Flexible workspace operators such as WeWork and Regus are changing the office landscape and providing employers with options beyond the traditional office or work from home. Flexible and remote working arrangements are becoming more commonplace – in fact, a Coldwell Banker Commercial survey found that 71% of U.S. adults report they have worked from home. As more employers offer remote working arrangements as a perk, employees now have more liberty to live in a different city or forego long commutes in exchange for a flexible workspace in a shared business center.

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Given that more professionals would rather work from an office environment, do you believe demand for flexible work options will increase?

Coworking spaces fill in the gap by allowing people the convenience of working space without the commitment of staying close to your employer. But with added convenience comes trade-offs. Our survey also found that respondents who reported working remotely were more likely to feel disconnected, lonely and less like a part of their team, signaling a desire to work in traditional office spaces. In fact, 45% of Americans reported a preference toward working in a traditional office environment over working remotely. This is important to note as employers weigh their real estate options – if they opt to eliminate or downsize their physical offices to offer remote work, employees may value the added convenience but feel less engaged.

What do you believe flexible workspace operators should offer in order to attract more clients? 

Floorplan and layout is crucial to the success of any workspace, whether it is a flexible shared space or a traditional office. The survey found that a majority of U.S. adults across all ages feel comfortable in open office environments as long as private spaces were available to them. These private spaces could be used to make a personal call or to escape the noise and drill down on an assignment. We found in past surveys that people also wanted collaborative meeting spaces in the workplace, which are other considerations flexible workspace and physical office operators should keep in mind.

Why do you believe professionals would still rather work from an office even when they have the opportunity to work from home?

We think it comes down to face time with colleagues and clients. Traditional office space brings companies together and fosters the sense of community that one wouldn’t get from working from home or from a shared workspace.  Contrary to what may be popular opinion, more Millennials reported they would rather work in an office than work remotely. With many Millennials still in the early stages of their careers, having a physical presence is important to them as they develop the relationships and skills needed to meet their career goals.