August: WorkplaceBytes

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Welcome to the August 2021 edition of WorkplaceBytes, a monthly post for workplace & property professionals where we curate the best bits of data analysis, industry news and commentary.

AUG 2021

Delta surge forces big employers to delay their return to office

It’s the time warp to 2020 that nobody wanted. 

Just as companies were nearly complete with return-to-the-office plans, the highly transmissible delta variant has caused a renewed surge in Covid-19 infections across the globe.

With cases soaring and cities locking down, companies that were once eager to call employees back to the office have delayed return dates as Covid-19 infections keep rising. 

In the past fortnight Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter  and Wells Fargo have all announced that they are delaying their office returns by at least a month.  Amazon, Asana and Lyft have gone one step further, announcing that they will delay a mandatory return to office for staff until early 2022. 

After nearly two years of corporate team’s working remotely, the fundamental role of the office and how best to re-integrate employees have become hot topic questions for employees and business leaders alike.

Delta variant delays return to office plans across the world .png


Silicon Valley giants announce pay cuts for remote workers

The carrot or the stick? 

What’s the best way to get workers into the office again? 

A new salary experiment is sweeping across Silicon Valley with Google, Facebook and Twitter announcing they will cut pay for employees who switch to permanently working from home.

One Googler who typically commutes to the Google Seattle office from a nearby county said that despite the two hour daily commute, they’re going to have to head back into the office. 

“It’s as high of a pay cut as I got for my most recent promotion. I didn’t do all that hard work to get promoted to then take a pay cut,” they said.

So is this the new norm? 

It’s too early to tell. 

Though, some smaller tech companies including Reddit and Zillow have shifted to ‘location agnostic’ pay models which they say provides advantages when it comes to hiring, retention and diversity. 

Both Zillow and Zoom have penned blogs on how they’re approaching their return to office. 

Google gives remote workers a pay cut.png


Demand for office space is surging in Asia

A recent survey conducted by CBRE Group Inc., found that 66% of Asia-based firms expect to add space in the next three years, up from only 28% in October. By contrast, only 35% of multinational companies see their office portfolios growing over the period.

The divergence suggests that once the pandemic fades, more Asian companies are likely to maintain traditional working arrangements than their European and U.S.-based peers, many of which are prepared to make work from home a permanent aspect of employment to cut real estate costs.

“Western companies are aligned with their global headquarters,” which are still adopting home office arrangements, said Ada Choi, CBRE’s Asia-Pacific head of occupier research. Asian companies “are relatively traditional and conservative,” she said.

Demand for office space strongest in Asia.png


….. And across the US. Office tours up by 80%.

The CEO of commercial real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield told CNBC that office building tours in the US, which are seen as a leading indicator of future leasing revenue, are up by 80%. He also noted that 75% of leases are being signed for more than four years, while the remaining quarter are 10-year leases.

What we don’t know about this surge is whether US companies are looking to increase their real estate footprint or to downsize given new space requirements due to a hybrid model. 

Cushman & Wakefield’s $150 million partnership with office-sharing firm WeWork earlier this week might be a hint. The deal is aimed at helping businesses and landlords evolve the workplace experience for employees in the new hybrid work landscape.

Office tours up 80% according to Cushman & Wakefield.png


Using occupancy sensors to de-risk office downsizing

With the cost of empty offices starting to bite, many workplace leaders are now considering downsizing and asking: how is it possible to minimize commercial real estate footprints without putting the day-to-day operations of the business at risk?

The answer lies in capturing accurate, rich data. 

Here are our thoughts on the subject.


Reimagining the office as a social club

Whether you’re downsizing or expanding your workplace portfolio, the office as we know it is set to change. 

Steelcase research shows that nearly two-thirds of leaders want to increase spaces for both in-person and hybrid forms of collaboration.

More than 50% of U.S. companies plan to pilot new spaces as part of their return to the office this year, for example, repurposing a café into a high-energy social and collaboration space that better supports new hybrid work patterns.

One of those companies is Compass Group, who’s Senior Vice President said; 

“We are looking at space very differently. It will be a really great harmony between space, food and technology — a seamless and frictionless experience for people.”

So how should your physical workplaces adapt to change to support this shift?  

This HBR article outlines 4 strategies to build a hybrid workplace that works.

Steelcase visualisation of the new social office.png


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