APAC countries lead the world in return to office

More workers globally are in the office five days a week, finds report

APAC countries lead the world in return to office

More employers globally are in the office full-time in the first half of 2023 compared to the past 12 months, according to a report from JLL.

Over one in three (35%) of workers were in the office five times each week in the first six months of this year, up from 25% in the second half of 2022 and 20% in the first six months of last year.

More workers were also in the office three to four times each week between January and June 2023 (45%) compared with those between July and December 2022 (34%) and January and June 2022 (31%).

A majority of international organizations (87%) are encouraging their employees to work from the office at least some of the time. In fact, only 20% of employees work fully remote or up to two days in the office today, down from 39% a year ago.

“The office has always been, and will continue to be, central to work experience and culture,” said Susheel Koul, CEO for work dynamics in APAC for JLL. “As more workers return to the office several days a week, we’re continuing to learn about the shifting preferences for ways of working and how we can better deploy technology and flexible arrangements to meet these expectations.”

There has been a widespread push among employers to bring employees back in the workplace after the remote work boom during the pandemic.

Asia-Pacific leads the way

Asia-Pacific countries lead the world in the return-to-office movement for employees, according to the JLL report.

In the first half of the year, while employees globally were spending just over three days per week in the office on average, China (4.7 days), India (4.4 days), and South Korea (4.2 days) have workers back over 80% of each five working days. In Japan, workers were in the office 3.8 days per week.

These numbers were bigger than the numbers for the leaders in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and South America:

  • Belgium - 3.7 days
  • Canada - 3.6 days
  • France - 3.5 days
  • Switzerland - 2.9 days

Findings from CBRE's 2023 Asia Pacific Office Occupier Sentiment Survey revealed that the office utilization rate in APAC is about 65% by the end of the first quarter.

Here are the numbers for the rest of the countries in the JLL report: 

  • Singapore - 3.4 days
  • Thailand - 3.3 days
  • Australia - 3.1 days
  • Switzerland - 2.9 days
  • Germany - 2.7 days
  • Netherlands - 2.6 days
  • U.K. - 2.2 days
  • U.S. - 2.0 days

With employees spending half of their time on individual tasks while in the office (51%), the forward-looking companies will be those who are adapting their offices to be not just social hubs, but places that can “support the wide range of needs of an office day and that can accommodate the expectations of a diverse workforce,” noted Andrew Peck, senior director for communications in APAC, JLL.

“This means adapting workspaces not only to address collective and individual needs, but also to bring together technology and design to improve the balance of collaboration with spaces dedicated to privacy and focused work,” he said.

Koul echoed this sentiment.

“Ultimately, our research finds that the majority of global workers continue to crave a destination for human connection, so creating dynamic spaces that satisfy a mix of collaborative and focused work needs will ultimately be the most effective strategy to enticing employees to the office on a regular basis,” said Koul.

Successful hybrid strategy

Here are some key actions to deliver a successful hybrid strategy, according to JLL:

  1. Balance the need for social and focused workspace.
  2. Develop a hybrid playbook, monitor working habits and empower managers to orchestrate hybrid.
  3. Think holistically about employee well-being, performance and sustainability

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