March 1, 2021 - Multiple studies conducted by Steelcase, a global leader in office architecture, furniture, and technology solutions, make clear that companies must address several key employee expectations regarding workplace conditions to transition back to the office post-COVID.
The studies' results, disseminated in Steelcase's recent "Global Report: Changing Expectations and the Future of Work," provide helpful insights and calls-to-action for employers worldwide that plan to bring workforces back to the office.
According to the report, "After spending months at home during a crisis, workers have never been more in touch with what they want from their work and workplace. They have new and increased expectations of their employers and workplaces — desiring a dramatically different and better experience than the one they left."
Two of the "critical employee needs" identified in the report, productivity and comfort, are of particular interest with regard to the well-known benefits of sound masking: reduced noise distractions, increased speech privacy, and enhanced workplace comfort.
"Pre-pandemic, people struggled in offices if they didn't have the right levels of privacy to allow them to do focused work," per Steelcase's report. "Now, there's a lot of conjecture that people will come back to the office solely for group activities and collaboration. But the data show employees and leaders want workplaces to support individual focus work as well as collaboration" (emphasis added).
Of the 10 countries included in the Steelcase studies, nine rank a "quiet, professional environment" among the top five reasons for wanting to return to the workplace (emphasis added).
There are numerous informative findings in the report, but the most important takeaway is that sound masking clearly addresses two of the key areas of focus: the need for workplace environments to be both productive and comfortable.