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Workplace Ecosystems of the Future

In this report, we examine what the future of the office will look like in a post-COVID-19 world by exploring investor, occupier and placemaker feedback and analyze historical work from home (WFH) penetration rates.

This study is the final part in a three-part series that provides an insightful perspective on COVID-19’s impact on the commercial real estate (CRE) industry and the future of the office.

Part Three of our “New Perspective: From Pandemic to Performance” Series 

One thing is clear: the purpose of the office workplace is changing. The pandemic-induced work from home (WFH) experiment has altered perspectives on work, flexibility and the office. Cushman & Wakefield partnered with top researchers from George Washington University to explore potential outcomes for the future of office.  

As part of this report process, focus groups and interviews were conducted with 32 owners, occupiers and placemakers to get a 360-degree view on the future of the workplace. This was information was then augmented with insights from Cushman & Wakefield Total Workplace consultants directly involved across hundreds of occupier clients and with data collected as part of the Experience per SFTM consulting tool. Represented in these conversations were investors with just under $900B in assets under management and occupiers representing $574B in annual revenue. Additionally, the placemakers included business improvement district (BID) executive directors for submarkets in major U.S. downtowns containing over 350 million square feet (msf) of office space. The conversations were focused on a future “post-COVID-19” world where a vaccine has become widely available and the direct pandemic health risks are low or non-existent.  

In this study, we address critical questions such as:  

  • What purpose does the office serve now and in the future?  
  • How will that purpose impact how occupiers think about their portfolio footprints, location strategy and office layouts?  
  • What are the implications of the changing nature of the workplace on office owners, corporate users and civic leaders?  
  • How much WFH penetration should we expect?  
  • What are the variables that impact WFH penetration? 

This report follows: 

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Christopher Leinberger (image)
Christopher Leinberger

Co-Founding Partner & Managing Director Places Platform, LLC

Former Chair, Center for Real Estate & Urban Analysis George Washington University School of Business

Despina Total Workplace (image)
Despina Katsikakis

Global Head of Total Workplace, Cushman & Wakefield

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Michael Rodriquez (image)
Michael Rodriguez, AICP

Director of Research, Smart Growth America

Insight into the future workplace

Through our proprietary Experience per Square FootTM (XSF) tool, Cushman & Wakefield has captured more than 2.5 million data points from workers all over the globe in the pre-COVID-19 era and a further 1.7 million data points from more than 50,000 respondents in the current work from home environment. 

Our workplace specialists analyzed this data to develop a report on the future of workplace, which gives you an inside look at the unrivaled insights into how employees are coping right now – identifying their key successes and critical challenge. With this data, Cushman & Wakefield has developed a report that provides insight into the future workplace.

Key learnings:

1. Productivity can occur anywhere, not just at the office:
  • Pre-COVID-19, remote workers were more engaged and had a better workplace experience than office workers
  • During the pandemic, effective team collaboration has reached new heights, through better leverage of remote collaborative technology, and the ability to focus was upheld
2. Flexibility and choice to work from anywhere is accelerating
  • 73% of the workforce believes companies should embrace some level of working from home
  • Human connection and social bonding are suffering, impacting connection to corporate culture and learning
  • Younger generations are reporting more challenges working from home
3. The new normal will be a Total Workplace Ecosystem:
  • The workplace will no longer be a single location but an ecosystem of a variety of locations and experiences to support convenience, functionality and wellbeing
  • The purpose of the office will be to provide inspiring destinations that strengthens cultural connection, learning, bonding with customers and colleagues, and supports innovation
  • Current footprint sizes will remain steady, balancing social distancing’s relaxing of space density with less office space headcount demand in the new total workplace strategy 

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