This is obviously not a surprise, but the meaning that workers give to the office will not be the same in different countries. Perceptions, but also needs and other expectations will differ according to culture.
Whether it is a place of life and social interaction for some, a purely professional place for others, or a shared versus individual workspace, each nationality has its own unique conception of the office.
This observation also applies to European employees. Everyone has a different view of the office. Whether one is Belgian, Spanish, French, German or Dutch. The recent corona crisis has reinforced this view. Organizations had to completely reinvent themselves and the habits of their employees.
In the not-so-distant past, hybrid or even home working was the exception to the rule. But today, we can hardly imagine such a world. These forms of work - discovered by the pandemic - have definitively become part of the way we work.
A survey by BNP Paribas Real Estate and Ifop of 3,500 employees in seven European countries provided a snapshot of how employees view the "office" today and what their aspirations are for the future. I do not have to tell you that the differences between countries are striking.
The office is seen as a place to live, to meet and to work together. This is the case for:
- 61% of employees in the Netherlands
- 56% for Belgians
- 51% for the French
In contrast, the Germans (53%) and the British (70%) see the office more as a place for work only and "where one should spend as little time as possible".
The role of the office also depends on the generation. Among Italians (69%) and French (66%) under their 30s, humanity and friendliness are top priorities, while young German employees (57%) do not share this view at all.
In short, the image of the office has changed significantly and there is a need to respond better to the new aspirations of employees.
- European employees surveyed by BNP Parisbas Real Estate were very clear. They expected much more "service-oriented" offices. In both France and Germany, for example, half of them expect their workplace to be close to shops or a gym. This, in turn, is not a priority for the Dutch (34%).
- Accessibility is the second most important factor for European employees. 41% say it is very high on their list.
- The third most important factor: how workspaces should be used. Whether workspaces should be collaborative or individualistic is a different question for many. In the Netherlands, for example, both are encouraged, while in Spain the desire for a space that promotes teamwork (56%) takes precedence over individual spaces (32%). In France, the responses are similar: 46% opt for confidential spaces and 44% for more collaborative spaces.
One thing is certain, however: in an era where the war for talent is at its height, there is an increased focus on work-life balance and the importance of the employee experience is central. In this respect, office space is also clearly something that deserves our attention.
And rightly so, because where we work (definitely also in the office from time to time), is so important. We spend a lot of time there. Employers should take this issue to heart to improve and strengthen their organization’s employer branding.
The office is still evolving. There is no doubt about that.