Gensler survey shows new trends in the definition of an effective workplace

Gensler, the world’s leading design and architecture firm, has conducted a survey of 2,000 office workers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to determine how Middle Eastern employees are adapting to the post-pandemic work environment. The survey reveals a shift in employees’ mindsets regarding what constitutes an effective workplace.

The Gensler Research Institute has conducted several global surveys in the past 20 months, using the insights to uncover strategic design solutions for our clients. From these surveys, several central themes have emerged. According to the latest data, employees are returning to the office seeking a conducive atmosphere to focus on their work. This marks a significant shift from the pandemic era when office workers cited working in-person with teams and colleagues as the most important reason to come into the office.

“We are seeing a trend where employees are seeking out the office environment to focus on their work that can be challenging to achieve at home,” said Jose Faine, Principal and Design Director – Workplace Design of Gensler. “Employees reported that they need to be in the office significantly more than they currently are to maximize their productivity. This is a significant shift that highlights the importance of the workplace in providing the right conditions for optimal productivity.”

According to the survey, the office is more conducive for in-person collaboration, learning, and socializing, but less effective for working alone. Compared to pre-pandemic times, employees now spend less time working solo and more time working in-person with others, learning, and socializing. However, despite the significance of individual work to job performance, the effectiveness of spaces for individual and virtual work have declined. On average, workers report that 67% of the time spent working individually requires a high level of concentration.

The data also shows that highly effective workplaces that allow for employees to have more choice in where they work within the office results in a more positive workplace experience, positively impacting individual, team, and organizational outcomes, leading to job satisfaction, career advancement, personal wellness, and a sense of community. This is compared to less effective workplaces where employees have limited options and are restricted to working in designated areas.

In addition, the survey identified that the most innovative organizations provide a diverse range of work activities and spaces, unlike less innovative companies. These leading companies offer designated areas for focused work, collaboration, learning, socializing, and relaxation. Such a variety of spaces provides employees with greater autonomy and options, allowing them to select the workspace that best suits their current task.

“The survey highlights the importance of a flexible and diverse workplace environment that caters to the needs of the modern workforce,” said Tim Martin, Principal and Managing Director of Gensler Middle East. “Companies need to focus on creating spaces that allow employees to choose where and how they work, and provide a range of spaces for different activities. This approach can lead to better outcomes for individuals, teams, and organizations.”

The survey’s findings offer valuable insights for organizations aiming to establish a productive work environment, emphasizing the significance of a flexible, diverse, and efficient workplace that meets the demands of today’s workforce. Through the creation of workspaces that offer employees a range of options and autonomy, organizations can attain improved outcomes for individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole, resulting in job satisfaction, career growth, personal well-being, and a sense of community.