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New study highlights shifting workplace trends

June 12, 2018

IFMA, through its trend-setting Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) community, is pleased to have supported the fifth biennial global benchmarking study on alternative workplace strategies. The study, entitled “The Once Alternative Workplace Strategies,” continues the data-driven investigation into the evolution of the workplace around the world.

IFMA continues its decades-long commitment to thought leadership in workplace strategy through its own empirical research, the vibrant WE community and by supporting third-party research like this study.

Download the report from the WE website at

Highlights from the study

The study was conducted and released by Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), Global Workplace Analytics and Haworth Inc. Having surveyed 130 organisations representing more than 2.3 million employees globally, the research pinpoints five leading trends within today’s workplaces and compares the findings to the initial research from a decade ago.

“Alternative workplace” programs or practices can be defined as “the combination of non-traditional work practices, settings and locations that supplement or replace traditional offices.” While some may argue that these styles are no longer “alternative” and are becoming increasingly common, the ​10-year study honored the original phrasing for continuity.

The 2018 report unearths key trends, including:

  1. Only 7 percent of respondents believe that implementing alternative workplace programs can negatively impact productivity

    Managers often worry that alternative workplace programs will lower employee productivity. In most cases, the opposite is true.

  2. People impacts are now the primary measure of success

    The potential for cost savings might kick-start the program, but along the way leaders begin to see how making work better for people can deliver far more than they thought.

  3. Internal mobility has more than doubled

    With the rising use of technology and “smart working,” an increasing number of employees are roaming offices freely, making the most of flexible environments and resources. Internal mobility has more than doubled in the past 10 years, while external mobility has remained the same.

  4. Assigned seats die hard

    The percentage of full-time office-based employees who are permanently assigned to one particular space (48 percent) has remained virtually unchanged since 2008.

  5. Employee involvement is decreasing
    As alternative workplace programs increase in size and maturity, the report shows employee involvement in the planning, implementation and evaluation has significantly decreased. This runs contrary to what the researchers have found works best — the more people are involved in the process, the more likely they are to accept and own the outcomes.