Article | Evolving Workforces

Why quality workspaces are now a baseline requirement

Is the office dead? Our latest research shows that occupiers may be holding station while they try to unpack what new ways of working mean for their workplace.

March 24, 2023

By Kirstin Cooper


The prevailing market and media view over the last couple of years has been a pessimistic one, with commentators quick to declare ‘the office is dead’ and speculating that organisations will significantly reduce their footprint due to remote and hybrid working practices.

However, while we are undeniably living in a new working world, the fairly conservative 12% space reduction shown in CBRE New Zealand’s latest research suggests that occupiers may be holding station while they try to unpack what new ways of working mean for their workplace.

Occupiers continue to grapple with the evolving state of the hybrid working debate and it is clear that no one has all the answers yet. There is a general reluctance to require employees to come back into the office full time, with the majority of employers expecting their people to come in around three days per week. But who’s to say that this may not change again in future? What we are generally seeing is that strongly mandated approaches to hybrid working by employers have not been particularly successful and that more flexible approaches have achieved better outcomes.

What we do know is this: quality workspaces are now a baseline requirement. Global research is showing a common emerging theme - that the best way to attract people back into the office is to provide a great workplace experience. This means we are seeing a shift from forcing people back into the office to attracting them in through design and experience. A shift from push to pull, working to develop the power of the office as a magnet.

There is also a different level of expectation about what the workplace must provide. In additional to functional spaces, occupiers now need to attract people into the workplace through design and amenity. The flight to quality shown in our latest research reflects just that: occupiers recognise that it is no longer sufficient to provide a basic workplace, and that attraction and retention are a critical factor in workplace decisions.

At CBRE we partner with organisations to take a well-considered, structured approach to determining their future workplace requirements. The recent data suggests that because occupiers don’t have all the answers yet, they want the ability to expand and contract, allowing flexibility if new ways of working continue to evolve and change.

Because there is so much yet be learnt in this space, the question we hear most often from clients is ‘what is everyone else doing?’. To help answer this, Gergely Gaspardy and I are currently conducting a New Zealand Future of Work Study, surveying occupiers to examine patterns of working, workplace design and real estate strategy. The results will be available in April so please get in touch if you’d like to learn more.