The future of work lies in flexible and sustainable offices

Companies should future-proof their offices by adopting hybrid work and adhering to Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) requirements.

October 06, 2022

JLL’s The Future of Work 2022 survey reveals several important messages for future corporate real estate (CRE) strategies, of which the trends of hybrid work and ESG considerations feature prominently.

Flexibility in working

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend of hybrid working. Even though restrictions on gatherings and movements have been lifted in many countries, a large majority of firms have shifted from being predominantly office-based to offering hybrid and remote working options. However, corporate culture in the Asia Pacific region is still comparatively rigid, valuing face-time and close supervision of employees, in contrast to regions like the US and Europe. Hence, full remote working is unlikely to take off in the region.

Insights from JLL’s HR Perspectives and the Future of Work 2022 surveys show that 56% of organisations globally anticipate a hybrid model of work going forward. Furthermore, 54% will have moved to a dynamic working model by 2025, allowing employees to have more control over where and when they work. For instance, banks like DBS and UOB have allowed their employees to work remotely for about two days a week. Flexible work arrangements are becoming a norm in many societies; 2 out of 5 workers in Singapore are unwilling to accept a job if it does not offer either a work-from-home option or flexible working hours. In accordance with shifting work expectations and priorities from both employers and employees, adopting a hybrid work model will be crucial in a post-pandemic world.

Utilising flexible space to support hybrid working is an opportunity that many organisations are considering. At least 43% of the organisations surveyed globally plan to accelerate investment in flexible space in the next three years, while 51% plan to lease it through a third-party provider. Flex spaces are often cost-effective for the organisation and attractive to employees as they offer agility and the choice of working location. It is also a way to de-densify the office in light of recent pandemic concerns and the increased emphasis on employee health and well-being.

Governments are also supporting the shift to hybrid work by including it in future urban planning. Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has highlighted plans focusing on mixed-use developments to incorporate flexible workspaces outside the city centre, in traditionally residential and industrial areas. For example, the “vertical-zoning” concept features a single building segregating different floors by use, such as clean industrial activities occupying lower floors, co-working spaces on middle floors, and residences on top floors.

Figure 1: How open is your organisation to considering making
remote working permanently available to all employees who want it?

Source: The Future of Work Survey 2022, July 2022,
1,095 decision-makers across 13 markets globally

Embracing sustainability

Given the worsening climate crisis, fulfilling ESG goals is another vital concern for occupiers looking to relocate, their key drivers being investor pressure and employee expectations of sustainable spaces. In the long term, locating the office in a green building is worthwhile for future-proofing as calls for green credentials grow stronger. This is also a way for companies to differentiate themselves and attract talent, who are likely to be happier and more productive when working in LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings

In conclusion, workforce dynamics are changing, and CRE strategies need to be put in place to drive the transformation of offices for success in a post-pandemic world. Organisations that stay ahead of the trends of hybrid work and fulfilling ESG goals will not only be attractive employers but will also be able to improve productivity and cultivate collaboration amongst their employees.