Evolving employee expectations require workspace transformation to better meet needs and support productivity.

News Summary

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of employees across Asia Pacific believe that their offices do not enable them to do their best work.
  • Employees believe that office layouts, seating arrangements, and meeting rooms are not conducive to in-office productivity.
  • While employees are motivated to return to the office to collaborate, ideate and brainstorm with colleagues and foster a sense of belonging, most employers still allocate at least half of their office to individual workspaces.

CISCO LIVE, MELBOURNE, Dec. 7, 2023 – While most employees in Asia Pacific are willing to return to the office at least a few times a week, a new Cisco study found that more than half of employees believe that offices no longer fit their purpose. The study, which examines employee and employer attitudes about current workspaces, revealed that workspace design, layout and technology have not kept pace with changing employee expectations.

The study found that 79% of companies in Asia Pacific have mandated a full or partial return to the office with productivity, team communication and leadership pressure as key drivers.

Contrary to the popular belief that most workers are reluctant to go back to the office, seven out of 10 (71%) employers say employees responded positively to their organization’s mandate to return to the office, and 77% of employee respondents expressed a desire to return to the office at least a few times per week.

“Our study reveals that employees across the region have embraced hybrid work and are willing to return to the office more often, but with a caveat, workspaces must adapt to their evolving needs and expectations,” said Sandeep Mehra, Managing Director Collaboration Sales, Cisco APJC. “In the era of hybrid work, we must prioritize the evolution of our office spaces and technology to meet the needs of employees. Technology has become critical in delivering on these expectations to promote productivity and a collaborative environment – no matter an employees’ location.”

Despite the positive reception to the office return, employees’ motives for in-office work have significantly evolved. The main reason for their return is not individual work, but rather to collaborate (77%), ideate and brainstorm with colleagues (63%) and foster a sense of belonging (48%). This shift signifies a change in employee expectations and needs for their workspaces.

Workspaces do not reflect changing employee needs

Across Asia Pacific, more than half (64%) of employees believe that their office is not fully fit for purpose to enable them to do their best work. In fact, when referring to office layouts and seating arrangements, 81% of employees feel these are not conducive to collaboration and brainstorming purposes. While there is a growing emphasis on collaboration, 86% of employers surveyed still allocate at least half of their offices to individual workspaces.

The study further highlights that workspaces are not ready for this new way of working. Employees feel that individual workstations (60%), large (66%) and small (72%) meeting rooms are ineffective at boosting productivity in the office, or only do so moderately at best.

Technology infrastructure and integration is also an area of concern. Among employers who find meeting rooms ineffective in boosting in-office productivity, the main reasons are insufficient audio and video endpoints (52%), poor quality of audio-visual experience (46%), lack of inclusive audio and video endpoints (41%) and inconsistency in the experience for remote and in-office participants (45%). On average, just over half (52%) of the meeting rooms across organizations are equipped with video and audio capabilities.

On a positive note, the study reveals that organizations are making progress to transform their office spaces. Eight out of 10 employers have already made changes post-pandemic and 81% plan to do so in the next two years. The main drivers of transformation include adapting to technological advancements (59%), meeting changing employee expectations for workspaces (52%) and better enabling hybrid work (53%).

“Employers’ progress in deploying collaborative technologies for hybrid work is commendable, but simply providing the tools isn’t enough. Most employees don’t feel prepared to use them effectively,” said Mehra. “As an example, only 30% of employees feel highly equipped to use video conferencing and just 20% feel well-equipped to use advanced tools like footprint monitoring or smart meeting room assistants. We need to focus on integrating these tools into the workplace to facilitate a smooth transition to this new work normal and ensure these technologies are accessible and user-friendly for all.”

The study is based on a double-blind survey of 9,200 full-time employees and 1,650 employers surveyed in November 2023. Respondents are from seven Asia Pacific markets including Australia, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea.

Additional Resource

Report: From Mandate to Magnet: The Race to Reimagine Workplaces and Workspaces for a Hybrid Future


About Cisco 

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide technology leader that securely connects everything to make anything possible. Our purpose is to power an inclusive future for all by helping our customers reimagine their applications, power hybrid work, secure their enterprise, transform their infrastructure, and meet their sustainability goals. Discover more on The Newsroom and follow us on X at @Cisco.

Cisco and the Cisco logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. A listing of Cisco’s trademarks can be found at www.cisco.com/go/trademarks. Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company.