The workplace of the future attracts employees

Helene Lidström,
workplace strategist for Castellum

The pandemic brought new digital working methods with it, and the demands placed on flexible workplaces have increased. But the office has never been more important than now, as Castellum’s annual “Work Life of the Future” survey shows.

Castellum’s offices on Hangövägen in Stockholm are a good example of a practical and inviting workplace.

In 2022, when the pandemic entered a calmer phase and coronavirus restrictions were relaxed, many people began returning to their workplaces. However, the pandemic has accelerated the development of digital tools and facilitated greater flexibility. But businesses had different approaches to how they wanted their employees to spend their working days going forward.

At one end of the scale is the Swedish tech company Spotify, which during the pandemic decided to let employees themselves determine how often they wanted to work from the office. On the other end is the US electric car manufacturer Tesla, where in the summer of 2022 CEO and billionaire Elon Musk brusquely exhorted his employees via Twitter to return to the office – or leave the company.

Flexible working methods are important

Most companies and organisations lie somewhere between these two extremes. Clearly, most people want to continue using flexible working methods even after the pandemic. To learn what trends office workers in Sweden would like to see in the workplaces of the future, since 2020 -Castellum has been conducting the “Work Life of the Future” survey that gauges the viewpoints, desires and expectations of Swedish office workers for the office as workplace. The survey, which encompassed 2,600 people in 2022, showed clear differences among expectations of the workplace before and after the pandemic.

It showed that most people wanted to be able to switch between the office and working remotely, but that most regarded the office as the key meeting place going forward. Another conclusion is that the workplace needs to become more creative, social and inviting – if employers want to succeed in drawing their employees back to the office. This is particularly important for young people, who are also the ones who wanted to come back to the office the most. They want to see other people, and thus want to be at the office frequently. The consensus among survey participants on the importance of the office is broad. Building a positive corporate culture needs an office that provides people with opportunities to meet. Another issue that has gained significance after the pandemic is that the workplace should also promote health.

Digital meetings are good, but physical meetings are better

The informal chats at the coffee machine should not be underestimated, says Helene Lindström, workplace strategist at Castellum. They are important for promoting corporate culture. As a workplace strategist, she helps the company’s tenants design good workplaces. Setting a good example is important, she says, pointing out such projects as Castellum’s office on Hangövägen in Stockholm as a good example of practical, inviting workplaces.

The pandemic has changed how we fundamentally view office work. Flexible working methods have become the norm, and preferences and expectations from both managers and employees have changed greatly. But there is no solution for how to design our offices and working methods to suit every organisation. Different operations, groups, and individuals have different needs.

Despite all these various needs, the common denominator is obvious: we need to design workplaces where we can be productive both individually and together, that can be perceived by all the senses, and form a hub for collaboration and learning where new ideas can be born, know-how and experiences can be shared, and relationships built.

All due respect to digital meetings, but people seeing one another is important if companies are to develop, Helene Lindström says. It should be felt that there is more to gain from being in the office instead of staying at home. Otherwise, there is a risk that employees will quit. Quite simply, workplaces of the future must be designed in a way that makes employees not just want to be at work, but makes them feel it is a place to enjoy.