Not many people want fully remote work, but nearly everybody wants a better office

Just 7 percent of UK office workers back fully remote work, but eight in ten would like to see significant improvements to their company's office and more support for flexible workingJust 7 percent of UK office workers back fully remote work, but eight in ten would like to see significant improvements to their company’s office and more support for flexible working, according to the Sony State of Offices Report 2023 [registration]. The report from Sony Professional Displays and Solutions Europe suggests that over two fifths (41 percent) of UK office workers still prefer to work from a dedicated company office, and across Europe this trend is even more pronounced with over half (53 percent) favouring office-based work. However, eight in ten (79 percent) in the UK call for improvements to offices, and the tech within them, to better suit their new flexible, asynchronous working styles.

According to the report, more than half (56 percent) of CEOs and business leaders in the UK still plan to incorporate co-working spaces in future office spaces, despite data revealing that only 15 percent of employees prefer this setup. While investment into co-working spaces continues, nearly half (48 percent) of business leaders and CEOs are also looking to increase their owned office spaces in the future, and they agree that the right technology set up (48 percent) along with flexible hours (58 percent) will be key to employee wellbeing and satisfied workers. Employees echo this sentiment, with 79 percent asking for improvements to dedicated company offices and technology to better suit new ways of working.

For employers, delivering the office of the future that employees demand is proving a challenge. 79 percent say there are barriers to making their office spaces work for employees’ current working habits. The top three barriers cited by UK employers are lack of appropriate real estate solutions (30 percent), lack of budget (29 percent), and a disparately located workforce (23 percent).

Over a quarter (28 percent) of UK office workers are still entirely office based. Whether in the office or not, this workforce is constantly collaborating with disparately located colleagues, with 85 percent of all meetings including at least one remote work participant.

People increasingly want complete flexibility over where and when they work (44 percent), indicating that asynchronous working is here to stay. 94 percent of UK business leaders say they enable asynchronous working patterns and 92 percent of office workers claim that, when done right and enabled properly by their employer, asynchronous working benefits their productivity (44 percent), mental health (40 percent), work-life balance (60 percent), and stress levels (38 percent).

Andy Davies, HR and leadership expert, author and Product Director at MHR comments on Sony’s research findings: “Personalisation is the key for a productive and engaged workforce. If businesses want to create and sustain a productive workforce, they have to move away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Sony’s research reinforces the long-established facts that businesses need to provide the right workplace, give people the right equipment and be flexible about the hours of work to ensure they get the most from their people.

“Technology set-up is an increasing issue for people as many have better technology at home than they have at work. In a technologically driven era, this should be a key focus for businesses to improve retention and then advertise their technology-first approach to future talent. This is no longer a differentiator for a business but a basic requirement to attract great people.”