Many businesses still aren’t offering properly collaborative offices

A new Microsoft study has found the majority of workers are “stuck in pre-pandemic office spaces” rendering them almost impossible to collaborate in properly.

The company’s research found 83% of British workers were working in the same environment as they were before the pandemic, with employers resisting change despite adopting some hybrid working policies.

The results highlight some of the key benefits of heading into the office, according to the participants, which include being able to socialize with colleagues and strengthen relationships, however almost three quarters say that they are just “doing emails” when they head to the physical workplace.

Collaborative offices for 2022 and beyond

Microsoft UK Surface Business Group Lead, Alan Slothower, says that “employees clearly need more enticement back to offices than an employer mandate.” He poses the question to businesses: “Are our offices fit for today’s workforce and will they really want to come back?”

Some of the factors holding back workers from returning to the office include being able to achieve less than when they are working remotely, the cost and length of their commutes, and being able to spend less time with loved ones, who may also be working from home.

In contrast, some of the drivers for making a formal office place more attractive include a strong Internet connection, flexible working hours, good transport links, and good air conditioning with temperature control, which could become more vital as Britain heads into a winter of uncertainty with regards to energy prices and potential blackouts.

Furthermore, the concept of an ‘office’ has changed in recent years, with 81% of the employees questioned seeing their work device (such as a laptop) as their own personal office space. Capitalizing on this by enhancing the experience with better collaboration software could be one way to boost workers’ productivity both at home and in a dedicated workplace. 

Moving forward, Microsoft offers three action points to help companies improve their working environments: “make employees’ needs central to business strategy”, “accept and address the hybrid paradox” by valuing both flexibility and human interaction, and “view devices as a productivity powerhouse”.

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