Remote working is already part of the new normal. Companies are prioritizing flexibility and they are redesigning and rethinking office spaces

Deniza Cristian 31/01/2023 | 13:29

Hybrid work arrangements, combining remote working with office-based presence for the whole team, is already adopted by many companies, shows a survey conducted by Colliers among management and decision-makers in 75 companies with activities in various economic sectors and teams with staff from several dozen to hundreds of employees.


Currently, more than 80% of employers have less than half of their employees in the office on a normal working day, and Colliers survey respondents do not expect significant changes this year. The importance of offices remains high, with many companies understanding the priority of redesigning their workplaces to meet the needs of changing work patterns.

“Three out of four decision-makers in large companies with more than 500 employees expect low office presence this year, below 30%, compared to two out of four respondents from SMEs. This creates an interesting sub-trend, as larger companies may want to create multiple office pods in the same space, which allows them to have greater cost efficiency and flexibility, depending on the number of employees working from the office. This means rethinking the office to be more than just a workspace, but more a space that supports collaboration and team spirit accelerates creativity, and attracts and retains talent. About half of the respondents have already renovated their office to make it more in line with the new way of working, which allows for future flexibility and easiness for tenants to downsize or expand their spaces”, explains Silviu Pop, CEE & Romania Research Director at Colliers.

Month on month, Eurostat indices on short-term hiring intentions showed solid values for Romania, which outperformed most EU Member States, and a common element found in several questions in the Colliers survey shows that around 60% of IT&C respondents plan to expand their workforce over the next year, compared to an average response rate of 44% for all respondents. At the same time, the majority of respondents are looking for flexible working for their employees and are more open to it than they were two years ago. To be specific, in October 2020, around 53% of companies were offering their employees 1-2 remote working days per week, while employers are now talking about 3-4 remote working days. Only 4% of respondents to the Colliers survey ask employees to work permanently from the office.

For most companies, employee productivity remained broadly unchanged even in the context of the new hybrid way of working, with only 21% of respondents considering remote working to have a negative impact on workforce productivity, compared to 40% who consider it to be an improvement. Same data shows that SMEs have found it more difficult to ensure remote work productivity, with 34% of companies with less than 500 employees seeing an increase in efficiency, compared to 43% of large companies.

“Although there are still uncertainties about the whole present economic and geopolitical context, half of the responding companies said that they have already kept or plan to keep their office space unchanged, and about 10% even plan to expand. At the opposite pole, almost 39% of respondents plan to reduce or have already reduced their office space. In order to be able to easily implement workspace downsizing or extensions in the future, it must be redesigned and arranged as flexible as possible from the beginning, so as not to affect employee productivity or the use of interior spaces”, points out Daniela Popescu, Director | Tenant Services & Workplace Advisory | Office 360.

Turnover growth remains one of the most relevant goals for any company, the Colliers survey also shows, adding that while there is no ”one-size-fits-all” approach to increasing productivity or remote working, various innovations aimed at increasing workplace digitalisation can lead to improved cost efficiency and productivity. For instance, Colliers consultants give the example of booking applications for workspaces, office meeting spaces and parking spaces, which provide better visibility and predictability in terms of office space occupancy, usability and increased satisfaction with the ”workplace experience”. All this can lead to increased collaboration between employees, because you always know which colleagues are coming to the office, better organization of teams, as well as increased presence in the office.

Colliers innovates and responds to current challenges and future needs of the office market through Office 360°, a holistic approach to offices. Starting with identifying the needs of each company, it goes on to define the available solutions and the implications of implementing the design to meet the needs and strategic plans of the companies. Colliers’ cost control mechanism at each stage of the office transformation generates additional savings which often exceed 10-15% over the values typically obtained from contractors during tender stage negotiations.

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