Location, location, location!

Technology may be closing the time and distance gap for some of today’s workers, but the physical office space remains an important collaborative destination for most Canadians. However, reducing commute time is so important to Canadian employees that one third of those surveyed said they would be willing to work an extra three hours per week for a reasonable commute to the office, according to the Destination Collaboration: The Future of Work study by Oxford Properties and Environics Research Group.

Canadians surveyed identified accessibility and commuting as the most valued attributes in a workplace, with 76 per cent indicating they want a reasonable commute to the office. In fact, 50 per cent of respondents state that commute time is the number one factor that would cause them to choose one employer over another when all else is held constant.

“Employees and job seekers are placing an even greater emphasis on the value of their time and the transit options of a workplace,” says Andrew McAllan, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Real Estate, Oxford Properties “Optimizing office location and transit accessibility in conjunction with collaborative spatial design and a wide variety of amenities, will be crucial selling points for employers to attract and retain the brightest, most loyal employees.”

82 per cent of overall respondents feel that a commute time of less than 30 minutes is the appropriate travel time to work.  Close to 40 per cent of respondents also want their workplace to be close to lifestyle amenities, such as shops, restaurants and gyms to better balance their work and personal life priorities in a given day.

The rise of the collaborative worker

Although commuting is becoming a greater consideration for many employees and job seekers, the office space is far from obsolete as collaborative work cultures and environments are on the rise. In fact, 57 per cent of respondents said they collaborate more than they did five years ago.

“Employees want face-to-face interaction with colleagues and designated collaborative work spaces to learn from colleagues, be creative and thrive,” says McAllan.

To accommodate this, organizations are embracing multi-concept layouts with both private offices and open concept spaces, and incorporating collaboration hubs into the mix to encourage greater connectivity and creative interaction.

Surprisingly, the more tech and social media savvy  Generation Y demographic – comprising one third of Canada’s population and the next wave of the country’s active labour force – place a greater importance on being physically in the office, with 79 per cent defining collaboration as working together in the same space in person. In comparison, only 59 per cent of boomers feel that collaboration means working face-to-face.

Other highlights from the study include:

–          44 per cent of respondents value a workplace that is easily accessible by public transit or within walking/biking distance (35 per cent)

–          Generation Y is more likely than any other age group to work three extra hours per week for access to on-site or nearby lifestyle amenities

–          Despite greater flexible workplace options offered by employers, working from home is not the norm with the average respondent working only 1.8 days from home per month

“Organizational culture is greatly influenced by direct human and environmental interaction, and there’s a great deal of collaborative innovation that happens within the four walls of an office. To encourage talent to participate in this physical space, smart organizations will recognize that finding an optimal office location is not only a job seeker’s choice, but a strategic responsibility of the employer to attract and retain the most engaged employees,” says McAllan.