Responding to the criticism received by Apple CEO, Tim Cook, for asking staff to return to the office, global workplace creation expert, Unispace, has highlighted that the business leader was right to take this step. However, the firm has warned that mandating returns without an insight into what’s stopping people from returning is risky.

Lawrence Mohiuddine, CEO EMEA at Unispace, commented

“While the pandemic has certainly driven the demand for more flexible and hybrid working, the office itself is still hugely valuable and I’ve no doubt that other employers will echo Tim Cook’s calls for a return to the workplace in some capacity. We may have faced an extended period of remote working, but the office still plays a significant role in developing cohesive teams, driving innovation and breeding creativity.

“Business leaders naturally want to ensure the office space is being utilised and is still worth the financial investment, but they also want a dedicated place to build and develop their teams, and I don’t believe that many employers feel this can be achieved fully remote. In fact, in a study of 3,000 office workers and 2,750 employers across Europe, we found that 81% of business leaders felt that staff career prospects will be limited if employees work remotely full time.

“However, while there is clearly a need from a business perspective to get people back into the workplace in some form, it’s also important to assess why individuals are reluctant in the first place. There is the possibility that the majority of the workforce has simply formed a new habit that is hard to break, but our research suggests that the office itself is holding people back. In fact, a staggering 95% of employees across Europe revealed that they wanted to improve their office space, with many citing access to outdoor spaces or better amenities as the most desirable changes. People brought work into their home during the pandemic, so it’s understandable that they now want to bring the luxuries of home into the office. Those businesses that enable this, will be the ones that thrive in the talent short world we’re operating in.”