Employees want to return to the office for sense of community

A sense of community and opportunities to collaborate, interact and socialise are seen as key benefits of the office – Fine Grain Property study reveals. 

Dublin, February 09, 2022: After nearly two years of lockdowns, social distancing and home working, 78% of office workers in Ireland say they want to work in dedicated office spaces at least some of the time.More than half (51%) of the workforce would split the working week between home and the office if given the choice and 27% would prefer to be entirely office-based. 

These are among the findings of a new study* – carried out by real estate investor and operator Fine Grain Property – that suggests sense of community and opportunities to collaborate, interact and socialise are seen as key benefits of the office.  

“We live in communities; our research indicates that employees want to work in them too,” says Damien Kilgannon, Real Estate Director at Fine Grain Property.“Reports of the ‘death of the office’ in Covid’s wake were greatly exaggerated. It’s clear that dedicated workplaces are still seen as crucial to employers and employees, but what they want from the office is changing. 

“The past two years have accelerated demand for quality, accessible office space that creates a sense of community and belonging. This is particularly the case among younger workers, who are more likely to welcome the return to the office.” 

This study continued the themes from Fine Grain Property’s Future of Work survey, conducted in 2019, and is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to develop great workplace communities which enable businesses across Ireland to attract and retain talent.  

‘War for talent’ 

These are important insights for companies that are facing growing competition for talent across Ireland following a year of record job creation.“In a full-employment economy like Ireland’s, attracting and retaining talent is critical,” adds Kilgannon. “Our research suggests competition for talent will increase further. Well located, quality workspace in a community environment will help employers win the war for talent.” 

Half (49%) of the companies polled expect the size of their workforce to grow in the next five years, 42% expect it to stay the same and just 8% say numbers employed will fall.   

“These findings come after record leaps in employment over the last 12 months. Both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland saw record increases in employment in 2021,” says Kilgannon.“. With more jobs being created, demand for quality workspace is rising.” 

‘Water cooler moments’ 

The research also suggests that workers have missed so-called ‘water cooler moments’ – serendipitous occasions in which staff interact socially at work – while working from home.Ninety per cent of employees say the social aspect of the office is the best thing about returning to the workplace. Getting out of the house (78%), having a dedicated workspace (66%) and collaboration time (62%) also scored highly.   

Younger workers are more likely to welcome a return to the office. Half (48%) of staff aged under 35 are pleased about returning to the office, versus 38% of workers in general; 32% of under 35s are disappointed, versus 42% of those aged 35 to 44.

‘Workplace communities’ 

“At Fine Grain Property, we have long held the view that the development of ‘workplace communities’ allows teams, clients, partners and stakeholders to work together to unlock opportunities to learn, collaborate, innovate and grow together,” continues Kilgannon. 

“This community collaboration creates a sense of belonging. Quality design, sustainability, services and collaboration space, both formal and informal, internal and external, were all high on the agenda of respondents in terms of creating vibrant workplaces.  

“The research tells us that bringing businesses of all shapes and sizes together in workplace communities builds a sense of togetherness. Amenities and experiences that create belonging ensure a collaborative culture is maintained for the entire community's benefit.  

“Our approach is underpinned by three pillars: Fine Grain Facilities, Fine Grain Friends and Fine Grain Futures. We deliver great spaces, services and experiences that foster that sense of belonging.”  

‘Work/life balance’ 

Provision of a ‘good work environment’ in an ‘accessible location’ by employers is seen as the most crucial factor in striking a good work/life balance by 85% of employees.The next most attractive attribute for 83% of respondents was ‘reasonable commute’. ‘Flexible working arrangements’ and ‘proximity to affordable housing’ came next at 74%.   

Fewer than one in four (22%) office workers would choose to work entirely from home if it was an option. When asked about the worst things about returning to the office, 79% cited the commute, 67% said noise or distraction and 51% said getting dressed!  

*Fine Grain Property commissioned Amárach Research to conduct a survey to understand the attitudes of office employers and staff to workplaces. The study was based on a quantitative survey amongst 388 company decision makers and 522 employees that are located in office properties across Ireland. 


For further information please contact: 
Karen Mulligan 
Fine Grain Property 

About Fine Grain Property 
With over 15 years’ experience and a portfolio of properties across Ireland, Fine Grain Property is an Irish-owned international commercial real estate investor and operator, with a total investment of €220 million. Its portfolio consists of more than one million square feet of commercial real estate hosting more than 60 clients from large international and domestic businesses.    

The Fine Grain Property team partners with clients to create great working communities. This helps big name businesses attract and retain talent, boosting employee engagement to drive productivity and business success. Fine Grain Property delivers solutions for your real estate needs, allowing you to focus on your business. 

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