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2021 Sentiment Survey Points To Elevated Expectations For Office Return

Auckland, December 2021 –Commercial property owners fearing the latest prolonged period of enforced work from home would sound the death knell for the office can breathe a little easier. However, work still needs to be done to bridge the gap between current and optimal workplace environments for the emerging hybrid workforce.

A recent JLL survey of over 200 office owners, occupiers and employees conducted across New Zealand’s three major centres revealed that 85% of the traditional office workforce want to return to the office for between 2 and 5 days a week, with only 2% seeking a permanent transition to working from home.

Nevertheless, it’s not a return to the office as they left it that most are seeking – and the pandemic’s influence is evidenced by the enhancements that employees want to see prioritised.

According to the top answers given in the survey, employees would like to see greater spacing between workstations, more meeting rooms for collaboration and designated no-meeting quiet times during the day to concentrate on work. Longer days / shorter weeks and access to tech at home are also seen as integral to optimising productivity from the hybrid workforce model.

JLL NZ Head of Research, Gavin Read, says the survey confirmed that fit-out is only one half of the equation though, as occupiers are increasingly seeking locations close to travel hubs and public amenities such as bars, shops restaurants and gyms.

“We’ve seen this ‘flight to quality’ trend come to define the office sector in New Zealand. Location is a vital component in streamlining the workday experience and this will become critical for employers to be able to attract and retain talent from the emerging hybrid workforce.”

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While the survey outlined that there is still work to be done to adapt to contemporary demand, it also revealed a strong sense of collaboration between owner and occupier and an acknowledgement of changing requirements and expectations.

Over 90% of owners say they provided some level of assistance to their tenants over the course of the pandemic, with around two-thirds reducing net rent. Looking ahead, nearly 80% say they are looking at changes to maintain or lift occupancy, with 42% considering inducements such as contribution to fit out.

“The occupier responses to the survey fully support our views that strong collaboration between owner and occupiers provides the best outcomes,” says Read.

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