What will the world we work in look like tomorrow? Our theme day in Arnsberg provided fascinating insights into forward-looking office design. Among the many highlights was the keynote by Dr. Stefan Rief, Director of the Institute and Head of the Organizational Development and Work Design research division at Fraunhofer IAO. His presentation, titled "The Office of the Future - smaller but better," detailed the demands of the New Work work environment. Here are five interesting facts for you.  

1. Hybrid work environments are here to stay

The hybrid work model has proven its resilience, thriving even post-COVID. In 2022, employees, on average, worked from home 1.4 days per week, and this percentage is set to remain high because workers WANT to work hybrid. More than 63 percent of survey respondents preferred doing at least 40 percent of their work remotely from home or another location. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds (72.4%) are willing to forgo their personal office space to do so.

2. Zombie buildings are forcing action

When a building remains under 50 percent occupied, often due to factors such as vacancies or abandoned office space, it is referred to as a "zombie building." In the U.S. market, vacancy rates have climbed from 12 to 17 percent on average, while occupancy has dwindled from 70 to 42 percent. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) anticipates that building owners will respond to this trend by making significant investments in improving building quality.

3. Home office: Pros and Cons

Less than half (48.3 percent) of respondents find they are more productive when working from home than in the office. Managers, however, tend to be more critical in evaluating their employees, with approximately only a quarter (24.8%) believing that home office employees are more productive. On the flip side, 46 percent of those surveyed noted that the exchange of knowledge within the company has suffered due to remote work. An even more substantial percentage, as many as 61.7 percent, express concerns about reduced networking with colleagues.

4. What attracts people to the office, what repels them?


Various factors entice people back to the office, such as well-equipped spaces for interactive collaboration (86.4%) and excellent technical facilities for meetings (69.7%). However, there are also hindrances. Many respondents are inclined to avoid the office if it lacks provisions for privacy and focused work or confidential conversations (59.4%). Moreover, if the office environment doesn't provide added benefits, 50.3 percent prefer to continue working from the comfort of their home office.

5. The office as a hub for innovation and social interaction

Hybrid working is reshaping the office's role, shifting it from a conventional workplace to a hub for social interaction, innovation, and inspiration. This transformation necessitates a structural change in the office landscape. Offices are evolving into curated and moderated spaces, carefully designed architecturally and technologically to foster encounters, collaboration, and innovation.

  "Versatile in Functionality and Atmosphere" 

For even more captivating insights into the demands of the evolving workspaces, be sure to watch our interview with Dr. Stefan Rief.