Weekly Editorial

Using Research to Connect with Unsure Customers

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-chief, OI Publications • April 8, 2024

The Insider_Weekly_editorial_4.8.24

Ever since the pandemic, companies outside the industry have done a lot of surveying about how people feel about work. Much of this research has come from tech companies looking to prove that people don’t need the office — that they are happy to work from home using technology to connect with co-workers.

I’ve taken most of these surveys with a grain of salt since the companies behind them have a position they are promoting. But I was sent a survey last week that is worth sharing with you.

The survey comes from Cisco with the headline “Cisco Hybrid Work Study Reveals Companies’ Need to Modernize Offices.” The survey found that 72% of employees are positive about returning to the office, but want better-equipped spaces for collaboration and brainstorming; 81% of employers have already or are planning to redesign workspaces within 24 months; and 83% acknowledge that collaboration-driven enhancements effectively attract and retain top talent.

The report, which surveyed 14,050 employees and 3,800 employers in 19 countries, found that employees are positive about the return to the office, but the spaces are too focused on individual work, rather than environments that foster collaboration and creativity. They want more collaboration, not more space for heads down time.

Here’s where it gets good for the office furniture industry:

While 72% of employees are positive about returning to the office, only 47% believe their work environments are equipped for this new era of hybrid work. 34% of surveyed employers are still allocating more than 75% of their office space exclusively to personal working spaces. 81% of employers have already or plan to redesign workspaces in the next 24 months, according to the survey, but these enhancements are not just cosmetic. 90% of employers in the Americas, 94% in Asia Pacific and 85% in European countries report that collaboration-driven workspace enhancements are highly or moderately effective at attracting and retaining top talent.

That means the right environment can be a powerful draw for a skilled workforce. Workers want to come back to the office, but they don’t think the offices are ready for how they want to work. Those stats highlight a huge opportunity for our industry. We can make these offices ready for the way people want to work.

I have some homework for you this week. Share this survey with a few of your customers who might be on the fence about redesigning their office space. It is rare that an outside survey from a trusted source like Cisco fits so perfectly with the story all of us are trying to tell. And we are all looking for ways to get in front of our customers; to share information with them that might be helpful. This survey is a way to open that door.

I want to leave you with this thought: What you do matters. This survey proves that. Now get out there and spread the word.

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