4 predictions for workplace norms in 2025

The role of the workplace, and how it looks and feels, is set to evolve for companies and employees

June 13, 2023

The year is 2025 and the return-to-office conversation has become a distant memory as the world has left behind most traces of its post-pandemic blues. The majority will use the office in a slightly different way and so its design and usage by employees will be embraced by the workplace.

The evolution of the workplace is already underway as companies worldwide implement different return-to-office strategies. The key attribute is one of agility and choice.

Earlier this year, Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase called its senior leaders back to the office permanently and urged its hybrid employees to show up three days a week. Meanwhile, companies like tech giant Meta slammed the door on remote work in favour of in-person work in the office.

They are part of over 70% of employers globally who have adopted a return-to-office strategy that sees the office as the best place to achieve company performance. The agile components continue to evolve.

This transition suggests that we’re on the cusp of a new era for the workplace. So, what are the key trends that could dominate and define the workplace in the years ahead? Here are some of my top predictions:

1. The rise of ‘The Imagination Age’

A bare-bones office fit-out won’t cut it in The Imagination Age, where the economy is dominated by Artificial Intelligence, virtual technology, cloud services, and other emerging technologies.

To create a conducive workplace environment that inspires the workforce, there’s an increasing need for sophisticated office equipment and tools, including environmental sensors, broadcast traffic conditions, waste measures, ergonomic “standing” desks, and individual and collective video/Teams conferencing equipment.

This is likely to spark a wave of refits to transform existing offices into offices that better meet individual employees’ needs and preferences. To undergo a successful design transformation, however, understanding employees’ working habits is essential.

Our recent neuroscience study with bioinformatics firm EMOTIV revealed an unprecedented level of detail into employees’ wellbeing and productivity at work. For instance, employees performed better on individual tasks when working around peers and are more engaged in the morning compared to the afternoon.

Having comprehensive insights — powered by technology — will advance the boundaries of office design, especially where decisions are made on types of spaces, be it for creative, collaborative, or contemplative focused tasks for individuals rather than the collective.

Regardless, technologies in different forms will play a significant role in offices in The Imagination Age as companies strive to gain a competitive advantage in the talent war.

2. The greener office

The adoption of green leases, or leasing agreements that incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) clauses, is another trend that will soon become the norm for companies leasing office spaces.

Currently, over four in 10 companies have already committed to green leases with another 43% expecting to do so by 2025, according to our data.

The sense of urgency stems from the mounting pressure faced by companies on multiple fronts to prioritise ESG. Investors and shareholders are demanding ESG accountability, while employees have heightened expectations for sustainability efforts and the ESG goals of their company.

Besides green leases, more companies will also consider integrating ESG elements in the office including indoor plants, smart windows, or AI tools for energy conservation.

In the coming years, the push from employees and the pull from regulation in all its forms will continue the momentum towards creating greener workplaces. Companies can’t afford to overlook the impact as it wields a growing influence on talent attraction and retention.

3. Workplace culture will help to drive performance

Fostering the right culture and environment will make the office a compelling destination that will draw employees back.

Key to that is a focus on performance. Diversity of thought creates that performance enhancement, thus the continued focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will be a significant part of the company agenda. The younger generations who are now making informed choices as consumers and as employees are increasingly influential.

Research from consulting firm Gallup shows that Gen Z and young millennials, in particular, seek leaders who support a diverse and inclusive workplace and value their unique contributions.

Most companies will prioritise features that positively impact the physical and emotional wellbeing of employees, as the expectation for the majority of the workweek is to be in and around a place of work. Offering wellness initiatives and providing convenient access to amenities to keep employees engaged will also become commonplace.

4. New workplace habits will emerge

Office spaces will adapt to ensure a healthy balance between the individual and collective workplace needs based on tasks that must be achieved. This will be underpinned by flexibility. Employees value work-life balance and appreciate the freedom to decide when to work in the office and which tasks to focus on while there.

For instance, in the office-first model, flexibility can be achieved by allowing employees to choose their preferred start and end times, accommodating their individual preferences.

Companies may also decide against providing on-site amenities since flexible working arrangements will allow employees to use these facilities closer to home. This frees up the office space to be effectively redesigned for different purposes including connection and collaboration.

Understanding how new workplace habits may impact your organisation will determine how you design your offices, and how you shape your workplace and leasing strategy.

Are you ready for the future workplace? Speak with a JLL leasing expert to explore the right office for your organisation.