The open office concept, which became the design trend of choice over the last decade, has declined in popularity with concerns over a lack of privacy and numerous distractions in this environment. New research commissioned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC d/b/a Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates and conducted online by The Harris Poll found almost three-quarters of adults would be comfortable working in an open office under certain conditions, if they had access to a private space like phone rooms or small work areas (74 percent) and if noise and distraction were limited (73 percent).
The Coldwell Banker Commercial consumer survey found Americans appear to consider private and quiet spaces more important than team-meeting spaces; only 66 percent of adults say they would be OK with working in an open office if there were large meeting spaces or conference rooms available. Sharing workspace was not as appealing; 52 percent of Americans would not be comfortable working in an open office if it meant multiple workers in one office/workspace.
We at Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates work tirelessly to invest in our affiliates’ success, so we continue to track the latest evolutions in office configurations. It’s important for commercial building designs to accommodate a variety of working styles and the more we know what workers want—in this case, an open office with private spaces and limited noise—the better our affiliates can help clients locate the right space for their people.
Although Silicon Valley-style offices with ping pong tables and nap rooms may make headlines, most workers are looking for simple improvements that would make a big difference in their work experience.
- Sixty-three percent of U.S. working adults said their office could better utilize its physical space with the top way being a better floor plan (30 percent).
- Nearly all Americans (88 percent) cite certain features would be helpful to have located within the workplace or office location with the most common amenities including onsite food options, parking and outdoor spaces. Fifty-nine percent would find it useful to have a food court, cafeteria or restaurant while 57 percent cite having enough parking. The desire for parking was down from the 2017 Coldwell Banker Commercial consumer survey which found 64 percent of U.S. adults would find enough parking helpful. This year-over-year decline could perhaps signal a change in commutes.
- A smaller proportion, 37 percent, would find it helpful to have outdoor lounging spaces at the workplace.
Although companies with a large millennial workforce are often associated with extensive office amenities, the Coldwell Banker Commercial consumer survey found that older Americans are more likely than some of their younger counterparts to find certain office amenities useful. Sixty-one percent of Americans ages 55 to 64 would find an office food court, cafeteria or restaurant helpful, compared to just 53 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 (millennial and Gen Z). For parking availability, 46 percent of millennials and Gen Zers believe having enough parking would be helpful, compared to 62 percent of those ages 55 to 64.
Developers and businesses will need to accommodate for these amenities expected from today’s workforce. As more companies seek to ensure their employees can achieve work-life balance, investing in an office cafeteria where employees can share a meal together or an outdoor space where they can take some time to relax or work outside can improve employee wellbeing and create a sense of belonging. Commercial real estate professionals will want to counsel their clients on the needs and wants of today’s workforce.
The survey of over 2,000 adults, including Gen Z and younger millennials (18-34), older millennials (35-44), Gen X (45-54), and Baby Boomers (55 and up), was conducted to identify Americans attitudes toward their physical workplace and better understand how office space can be optimized to meet worker needs and comfort.
Full survey findings are available on the Coldwell Banker Commercial website.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC from September 25-27, 2018, among 2,008 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,114 are employed. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Athena Snow.