Report: Working anywhere but your desk makes you more effective

Open-work areas, coworking spaces, and and the ability to hop all over the office throughout the day were some of the hot topics of architecture, design, and consulting firm Gensler’s 2019 U.S. Workplace Survey, based on the opinions of 6,000 office workers.

A greater portion of people today report working in a “balanced workplace” (44%) meaning a workplace that emphasizes both individual and collaborative work.


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Nobody seems to want an open office – but no one seems to want a totally closed one either. Seventy-seven percent of workers prefer a working environment that falls between the two, with different types of spaces they can go to throughout the day serve different working purposes.

Workers spend less time working alone today (45%) than they did in 2013 (54%), the last time the survey was performed. They spend more time collaborating in person today (30%) than in 2013 (17%).

Workers also report having greater levels of choice and autonomy at work as to where they work – 45% of U.S. workers say they have a choice in where they work within their office.

Inter-office mobility

What’s so great about working away from your desk?  According to Gensler, people who work away from their desks within the office frequently are more effective, perform better, and have a better workplace experience.

“It’s about providing both that variety and empowerment, which is what choice is really about,” said Janet Pogue, principal and Workplace Leader at Gensler. “And as we were able to compare those that had choice and those that didn’t, we saw that 71% of people with choice in where to work in the office actually reported a great workplace experience. While only less than half than [41%] without choice reported a great experience.”

Cowork to win

A different type of positive mobility surface with the use of coworking spaces, specifically, large companies providing their employees the option to use a coworking space part of their week.

Working from a coworking space heightens the work experience if employees do it about one day a week, but if they do it any more than that, then benefits start to dwindle.

“We measured a sharp decline if people spent more than a day and a half a week [at a coworking space rather than their office], which really proves that the office is still the most preferred location for performance,” said Pogue. “And so to us, that tells us that using co-work as a supplement but not a replacement for a great work experience.”

Pogue was also surprised to find that workers were using their time at the coworking spaces “more for networking and social, not individual focused work.”

In other words, some mobility is good, but not too much.

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