Not Another Hybrid Work Debate
Group at work
Chapter 2

Office neighborhoods on the rise

Just your friendly neighborhood hybrid hero here.

Ensure office design supports productivity

38% of hybrid workers say the office is most productive for meeting new people, placing it as the top reason for workers being in the office. Additionally, 30% say it’s best for team meetings and 28% prefer it for collaborating. By contrast, only 19% say the office is most productive for working independently, putting it at the lowest ranking for all provided reasons to be in the office (Owl Labs).

Owl Labs
Hot Tip

Use the office for connection, remote for focus

Employees want to be in the office to interact with colleagues and build stronger relationships—and remote when they need to focus. No matter their roles or responsibilities, all employees view the office as a place where they form human connections that are easier to do in-person. Organizations that have office spaces like cafés and lounges for mingling and socializing will help support that. 

“Offices should be designed to support human connections, collaboration, and creativity. It’s important to provide unstructured time for casual interactions and chats in the office that don’t happen when working remotely. These moments are what helps employee engagement and builds a sense of belonging.”
Maja Paleka
Maja Paleka
Co-founder and Director at Juggle Strategies
Listen to Podcast Episode
Flexible Work Stat
Wow! Case Study
Case Study

EPIT fosters community and connection with redesigned workspace and social events

Workers and permanent residents of Educational Partnership & Innovation Trust (EPIT) said they missed seeing human faces in the office and still wanted to work in person with their colleagues.

The organization solved this problem by designing their workspace to be a community—one where people have a place to lounge, eat, and chat with others. EPIT also hosts monthly community morning tea and physical events like ‘lunch and learn’ sessions and ‘movie and pizza’ nights in the office to help people connect.

By having various groups come in, they’re much more aware of who they’re working with, and these connections have expanded their impact overall.

“The beauty of hybrid work here is it puts ‘human’ back into the construct of work.”
Jane Treadwell-Hoye
Jane Treadwell-Hoye
Executive Director at EPIT
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Collaborative spaces are on the rise

In 2023, offices designed for activity-based working were most common and had the highest utilization rates (CBRE). These are spaces that promote hot desking and office neighborhoods with functions that directly support the work performed in that space (e.g., copy rooms, labs, and server closets) and a variety of meeting spaces. Collaborative spaces are on the rise while demand for individual workstations is decreasing. This is a result of employees wanting to be in the office for relationship-building. 

For instance, Neiman Marcus Group decreased its office footprint by nearly 80% and focused on smaller, more intentional spaces for the times when employees come together. Its new offices are made up of 70% collaborative spaces and 30% individual spaces, and have a non-hierarchical structure to support equity. 

Hot Tip

Shift to more collaborative spaces

At a time when organizations are increasingly downsizing their real estate footprint, the shift to more collaborative spaces in hybrid work can actually help adapt to the change and meet business goals. Collaborative spaces also better meet the needs of employees who come to the office to work on projects with their teams or hold important meetings in-person.

"Hybrid work has helped us solve some serious space challenges as we grow, and also helped us to recruit and retain."
Tracie Sponenberg
Tracie Sponenberg
CPO of The Granite Group
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Hybrid Work Stat

Office spaces that support various work styles will shine

86% of younger workers said they would be willing to come into the office more often for amenity-rich neighborhoods that provided their ideal mix of experiences (Gensler). While more traditional workspaces like individual desks for focus work will still exist, hybrid work is driving a need for workspaces that promote connectivity and culture for employees who are not always in the office. 

Gensler surveyed 14,000 office workers across nine countries and ten industries about the 16 different types of spaces beyond the individual desk and enclosed conference room. Four categories of spaces essential for office workers started to emerge — spaces for individual work, creative group work, reflecting and restoring, and connecting and recharging. Most (90%) office workers have easy access to at least one of these spaces, yet only 47% have access to all four spaces.

Hot Tip

Enhancing productivity with office neighborhoods

While there is an increasing level of choice within the workspace, there often aren’t enough options for the variety of tasks that need to be done. Providing a range of options allows individuals to leverage their surroundings in ways that best suit their work style.

Creating office neighborhoods is one way to do that, as specific neighborhoods can be dedicated to particular departments, job functions, project needs, or equipment requirements.

"Think about the array of spaces and amenities that are at our fingertips. Those amenities, outside the office or between buildings, are just as important as the spaces inside the workspace. Together, it creates an ecospace for people to use not only the interior spaces but the entire neighborhood as well."
Janet Pogue McLaurin
Janet Pogue McLaurin
Global Director of Workplace Research at Gensler
Listen to Podcast Episode
4 categories of spaces essential for office workers


Creative Group Work

Reflecting & Restoring

Connecting & Recharging

63% Stat

of organizations with successful hybrid programs have office spaces primarily designed for activity-based working.

25% Stat

of organizations with successful hybrid programs have office spaces primarily designed for focus-based working.


Hot Tips

Get past the predictions with tips you can implement right away.


Many employees prefer office work for social interactions, like spontaneous conversations, which are less feasible remotely. HR leaders can also get a pulse of what employees want and need by collecting qualitative data. HR and Facilities should collaborate to design workspaces that facilitate these interactions.


IT leaders need to consider refitting conference rooms with the right tech tools to include all attendees regardless of location. This may mean leveraging a conference room scheduler to coordinate hybrid meetings, installing display tech so all attendees can see each other, and providing quality connectivity solutions for stable calls and meetings.


Facilities leaders can leverage space management software with insights and analytics to make informed decisions on how to optimize their office layout. For instance, they can reduce the number of individual desks if they see that most are not being used on a regular basis. New workspace designs should be flexible, collaborative, sustainable, and inclusive.

Chapter 3

Sharpen your tech weapons to bridge the physical gap.

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