Why return-to-office and real estate downsizing don’t conflict

Return-to-office mandates are becoming more common, but companies are quickly downsizing their offices and are concerned about whether they will be able to maintain their current office.

This is the apparently paradoxical result of a new investigation by Boston-based workspace strategy firm Robin, which surveyed more than 500 business owners and facility managers about their office space plans and their remote work and work policies. back to the office.

The results show that 88% of companies now require employees to work a certain number of days in the office, compared to 69% a year ago. However, 75% plan to reduce office space next year, compared to 46% in 2022.

“It seems like an opposing trend, but it’s really not,” Micah Remley, CEO of Robin. said THE Boston Globe. “Over the past year, we’ve finally seen companies have a vision of what they want to accomplish in their offices, and they’re putting those plans into practice. »

What they want, he said, is “a flexible office space with a deep focus on collaboration.”

The survey also reveals that 80% of companies have already downsized their offices since the pandemic, and 82% are concerned about being able to maintain their current office, whether due to a recession or underutilization of space. ‘space.

The results showed that more companies were making greater use of their existing offices. In the survey, 56% of respondents said the majority of their employees work in the office full time, an increase of 19% from last year. And 40% said the majority of their teams are working hybridly, a 21% decline from 2022. Only 4% said their company is fully remote.

Among those surveyed requiring part-time in the office, the breakdown was 52% requiring four days, 26% three days, 16% two days and 3% one day.

Among those who reject hybrid altogether, the reasons vary: 42% say they have already invested in a new office space, 30% say they don’t want to compromise their office culture, and 27% say their employees can’t work outside. from the office.

For remote workers who oppose return-to-office mandates, the investigation is more bad news. In a viral TikTok video, a generation Zer expressed his horror to the 10-hour day required to get to the office for his first job. In Australia, an Indian investor recently shared with remote workers his jobs were ripe for outsourcing to his country. And ChatGPT creator OpenAI, whose CEO Sam Altman recently called the remote work “experiment” one of the tech industry’s worst mistakes. sealed a deal for 486,600 square feet in new offices in San Francisco.

But like the Wall Street Journal recently reportedoffice attendance in major cities is still only about half the level seen in 2019. This is despite a slight increase and tough speeches from high-level CEOs on the application of return policies in the office.

Lenny Beaudoin, executive general manager of a real estate company CBRE, gave Robin is one of the reasons why companies are reducing their office space even as they call more and more of their employees back to the office:

“In the past, organizations had more space for contingencies, and what they realize is that through hybrid working and how their employees actually use space, they can actually reduce some of the space they had not used in the past. because they no longer need it in an emergency like it used to be the case when everyone came to the office every days.

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