The pandemic has reshaped many aspects of our lives, including where and how people want to work. Their experiences working from home, and what they face when they return to the office, have influenced what they want and expect to see in the workplace going forward. The things they liked about their office before the crisis have become even more important, while the things that frustrated them will become an even bigger barrier if not addressed.

People have had vastly different experiences while working from home and learned from what they’ve been through. Those experiences shape their expectations for what they want work to be like in the future.

What People Need and Expect

To understand the impact the pandemic has had on what people need and expect in the office, Steelcase conducted research in 10 countries and engaged over 32,000 people in multiple studies. Synthesizing these studies uncovered five overarching needs that will drive macro shifts in the overall work experience and lead to new ways of planning and designing offices.

73% Air quality
73% Adherence to safety protocols
72% Facility cleanliness
71% Physical distancing + boundaries
69% Density
66% Visitor protocols
59% Food and beverage safety

Macro Shifts In The Work Experience

People’s expectations about their work experience have changed during the pandemic. Living through a life-altering experience has caused many to think about what’s most important to them and to question assumptions about how work should happen. And leading organizations are listening. They see this moment as an opportunity to reinvent their policies, offices, and overall work experience. This will lead to macro level shifts in four key areas.

While living through a crisis has not been easy on anyone, it has caused people and organizations to think about our shared humanity and what we want to achieve together. We can use this moment as a catalyst for reinventing an office that is not just a container for work, but a place that creates a community where people can feel a renewed sense of belonging, resilience and purpose.

Source: Work Experience Diagnostic Study conducted in September 2020 in 10 countries. Data in this report represents U.S. participants.
* Steelcase Research conducted in the U.S. in 2019