CBRE's Gensler-designed new headquarters in downtown Los Angeles illustrates many princples of workspace flexibility.

LOS ANGELES—A mix of workspace options is essential improving worker productivity, CBRE Group suggests in a new report. Titled “The Evolving Workplace: How US Office Space is Changing,” the study suggests a direction for the future of office-using tenants.

“Organizations that provide flexibility and choice will create greater office efficiencies and higher levels of employee satisfaction,” the report states. “By more intensely utilizing their assets, they are able to reinvest in technology and a suite of services that can make the new workplace environment a reality for their workforce. These types of strategies will become the standard by the time many current office leases expire, because the future workforce will demand it.”

In a recent study which CBRE conducted among more than 20,000 workers around the world, two key themes emerged. First, when they’re in the office, people spend less than 50% of their workday at their desk. “Essentially, in their overall work routine they spend about half of their time working independently, while the other half is spent working with others (either in a meeting, face-to-face or virtually),” according to the report.

Second, the study showed that workplaces that allow employees the ability to self-select their work location resulted in 10%-15% higher employee satisfaction levels compared to those that did not offer this option. “In addition, both formal and anecdotal feedback from office workers provides further insight into the workplace attributes that employees value most,” the report states.

Nor is telecommuting the be-all and end-all for younger workers. “In an increasingly virtual world, today’s employees have a stronger sense of community and value the opportunity to connect with one another face to face,” according to CBRE’s report. “As a result, the workplace should provide a more transparent environment where employees can see each other working, with easy access to spaces for formal and informal interaction and company events that bring people together.” The report notes that both employees and clients want to be engaged in a brand that “not only reflects the values of the firm, but the values of its employees when they step into a space.”

The report says there’s also increasing emphasis being placed on both occupant and building health. Citing the company’s own experience as an example, “Early feedback from CBRE’s recent headquarters move in Downtown Los Angeles suggests the implementation of new wellness standards are positively impacting employee morale, reducing absenteeism and improving general mental and physical health,” the report states.

Previously, companies would determine their future space needs by examining their existing office configuration and determining what alterations were needed for future growth, with lower real estate costs being a primary metric for success. In contrast, today companies seek to create a more thoughtful workplace strategy by collecting information to better understand their unique work environment, and implementing a balanced mix of spaces in alignment with how their employees actually work. Additionally, truly flexible work requires seamless remote access to company files and networks, making it necessary for companies to provide mobile IT solutions.

Collectively, the data suggest that “organizations that can provide flexibility and choice will create greater office efficiencies and higher levels of employee satisfaction,” says Lenny Beaudoin, senior managing director of  workplace atrategy for CBRE. “By more intensely using their real estate assets, companies are able to reinvest in technology and a suite of services that can make the new workplace environment a reality for their employees.”