Although the majority of employees are currently working from home, the office is here to stay. A recent Gensler survey found that an overwhelming majority of employees (81%) want to come back to the office, and our own research showed that 68% of employees intend to go back to the office in some form in 2021.
So how should buildings prepare for the return of employees? We recently surveyed over 1,000 office workers to gauge their sentiments regarding office buildings and compared that data to survey data from May 2020 as well as our 2019 survey. We found that employee priorities have shifted to new concerns.
Below we’ve outlined the top four priorities of employees as they prepare to return to the office.
1. Cleanliness and Air Quality
Ranked in the first position, 59% of respondents stated that building cleanliness and air quality is a top priority in the office. Employees are highly interested in being informed about the cleanliness of a space such as how often a space is cleaned and when the most recent cleaning was completed. Air quality is measured by tracking Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the air and can be displayed to management, tenants, or both. Cohesion’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) program even allows for IAQ optimization to intelligently increase air flow to spaces if pollutant levels start to rise.
This finding is opposite to our 2019 Employee Survey Report, where 40% of people ranked having physical amenity options, such as on-site gyms, restaurants, and bars, as the top office improvement in a building, while technology including touchless capabilities ranked lower.
2. Safety and Security
Another priority to employees is the safety of the building. 58% of office workers ranked building safety and security as one of the most important factors in an office. Measures including on-site security staff, access control, visitor check-in requirements, and emergency protocols all contribute to keeping employees safe when they’re at work.
3. Communication and Information
Employees ranked communication and information as the third most important priority. 49% of respondents included this as a top-ranked concern. Communications including alerts, building protocols, emergency notifications, hours of operation, and upcoming events are important to keep tenants informed, especially when needs are evolving every day.
This is a large increase from our 2019 Employee Survey Report, which revealed that only 4% of employees considered communication and information to be a top priority in their building. It’s no surprise that employee priorities have shifted as a result of the pandemic. Building management can prepare for the communication requests from tenants by implementing a mass communication tool, giving management a quick and easy way to push a notification, text, email, or robocall to all building tenants with just the click of a button.
4. Self-Service Technologies
Stated as the least important in our 2019 Employee Survey Report, 49% of employees now rank self-service technologies as a top factor when returning to their building. Office employees are requesting self-service technologies including visitor management, service requests, parking registration, amenity reservation, food ordering, and the ability to improve comfort by adjusting the temperature. These technologies allow office employees to be more productive by giving them digital tools to accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently.
To learn more about what employees have to say about workplace office buildings, download our Employee Survey Report.