James Massey, managing director of facilities management, MRI Software, says remaking the office to feature ‘hotel-style’ amenities is the smart move for employers building for the future.

In today’s post-pandemic era, workplace facilities have never been more of a concern among office workers – especially young professionals. With the flexibility of hybrid working practices and the availability of amenities employees have in the comfort of their own homes, office spaces have transformed from places of day-to-day work to places that boost information-sharing, learning, mentorship, and business development. But to do that successfully, you need people to come in at least part of the week.

Countering office fatigue among younger workers

What’s more, organizations today are competing to offer attractive office facilities that draw and retain the very best talent. This objective is critical where younger employees are concerned, with a global Deloitte survey conducted last year showing that 46% of Gen-Z employees and 45% of Millennials reported feeling burned out due to their work environment. Companies are combating this fatigue by looking for workplaces that meet the expectations of their current and future employees.

To meet these goals, businesses are creating office configurations that help their current team work better and function more effectively. One step toward achieving this aim is looking for offices with the appropriate physical framework for their team.

Despite the prevalence of homeworking, a recent survey commissioned by MRI Software of over 6,000 workers across the US, UK and Australia found that only 15% want to do it all the time. Drilling down into the data shows that younger people want to be in the office more than older workers: the survey showed that over a quarter (26%) of those aged 55 and up want to work at home every day, while just 10% of those under 25 want to do so.

The new class of office amenities transforming the workplace

The survey also spotlighted the crucial importance of office amenities, especially among younger workers. When it comes to workplace amenities, businesses are expected to have some of the standard fundamentals, such as air conditioning, network connections and parking – but other, more modern categories of amenities are emerging as crucial difference makers to today’s workforce.

The survey results highlight the need for more creative use of workspace to incorporate ‘hotel-style’ features that enhance the office experience, making it more appealing and increasing the incentive to “come in to work” – including facilities and areas for socializing (28%); onsite café/cafeteria/restaurant (28%); outside space/green space (26%); a gym (21%); changing and shower facilities (15%); and bicycle storage (13%).

The MRI survey also revealed a growing demand among modern workers for technology-enabled amenities that boost their efficiency and collaboration in the hybrid working world, including IoT-driven infrastructure such as hotdesking, bookable meeting rooms, and break-out meeting spaces (24%); smart conferencing tools (15%); and 24/7 access (19%).

One of the survey’s most compelling findings was that close to two-thirds (64%) of the respondents say these factors impact their decision to join or continue working for a company – and could be a deal-breaker in many cases. The survey revealed that 34% view flexible infrastructure and workplace amenities as an important factor after the nature of the job itself, a further 19% say that these are ’critical’ to their decision on whether to stay at a job or not, and 11% assert that “if an employer doesn’t have a lot of these things, I’m not interested."

A fundamental change to the employer playbook

The fact is, office amenities are emerging as a key part of the employer playbook to entice employees back to the workplace for at least part of the workweek – and to attract and keep the very best people. Younger members of the workforce, in particular, are looking for access to social spaces, open spaces and gyms, as well as smart and flexible infrastructure, at a rate substantially higher than older employees.

Understanding the relative importance of amenities to modern employees and taking appropriate action is vital to long-term success today. PropTech tools, such as booking systems, sensors, desk screens and mobile apps, help companies to understand and manage the individual office user experience and ensure that expectations are met.

As a result of the rapid evolution of the modern office, one of the trends emerging is that many organizations’ space management or occupancy teams are increasingly reporting to HR. Many organizations now recognize that, more than ever, non-traditional office facilities and features matter to employees – especially younger workers – as they consider current and potential employers. Overall, using digital tools and smart data to better understand their workforce's needs enables organizations to make smart decisions and thrive in the face of changing workplace culture.