New ideas and attitudes are evolving office spaces and ways of working. In order for Tork to not only understand the needs of clients, but also their clients’ needs, they produced the Tork Office Trend report. The report is based on a survey of 8,000 office workers in major cities around the globe, and a deep interview series with six experts in the office hygiene space.

From cubicles to activity-based interiors, offices have undergone, and are undergoing, a constant development. Understanding where that journey is headed will be key to be able to provide solutions that are relevant in tomorrow’s offices.

This report highlights three major trends: the “intelligent” office, the conscious office, and the flexible office. That trends mean major possibilities for facility management and office service providers alike.

The “Intelligent” Office
With more smart connected objects entering the workplace, office employees are also open to connecting devices related to hygiene. We are on the verge of major advances as companies become smarter about gathering and acting on office data.

A connected office environment creates a flow of information allowing management and service providers to gain concrete knowledge about how offices are used, information that can be analyzed to create solutions for a cleaner and more efficient workplace.

“When it comes to improving the office environment through connected devices, hygiene is a key aspect” says Tony Löf at H&M, who is developing the clothing giant’s global facility management concept.

Survey results confirm the importance of hygiene: on average 79 percent of respondents say they would inform their facility manager if they aren’t satisfied with the quality of hygiene products, and around 40 percent of all office workers occasionally find paper and soap dispensers empty and washrooms that haven’t been properly cleaned.

Connectivity in the office is already starting to allow service providers to eliminate these kinds of issues. Intelligent dispensers in washrooms can send push- notifications when they are running out of soap and paper, and sensors in washrooms and elsewhere register flow and traffic, so that areas can be cleaned when a certain amount of people have used them. This kind of real-time information lets facility management be proactive, solving problems before they appear instead of discovering issues through complaints or long, repetitive control rounds.

The next step will be analyzing the data to inform the design and construction of new offices. Understanding how facilities are being used and where the inefficiencies are will let management build workplaces that better match the needs of their employees. The office environment will become increasingly “intelligent.”

Employees like connectivity too. From 65 percent in Berlin and Frankfurt to 88 percent in Shanghai, an average of 73 percent agree that increased connectivity and availability make our working lives better. People are also starting to realize the potential of intelligent hygiene solutions: according to our study about 40 percent of workers in New York and London think connecting things to the internet at the office can have an impact on hygiene.

The Conscious Office
Employees become increasingly lifestyle-conscious, driving demand for holistic solutions including everything from air quality to gyms. Managers that want to attract talent today need to provide a sustainable, hygienic and likeable office environment.

In the offices of today, 45 percent of employees say they have a café, almost a quarter have a gym, and more than a third say their office is a good place for socializing with their co-workers after working hours. Why are we seeing these activities and services, traditionally limited to employee private life, entering the workplace?

According to Niklas Dahlgren, Productivity Solutions Specialist at Microsoft, this has to do with the development of the digital workspace and the freedom it has given the employees, available at your fingertips from anywhere through your phone, tablet or laptop.

A majority of office workers in all cities say that their company has the technical readiness to support remote work, and over 60 percent believe working remotely is good for their health. Managers need to ensure employees aren’t avoiding the workplace, because of hygiene or other factors.

Workers will still have to come in to the office, but keeping them happy in this environment will require more than it used to, including more versatile approaches to facility management as the workplace is increasingly used for cleaning-intense activities such as exercise. Companies that are serious about attracting and keeping talented workers will demand high-end hygiene solutions.

Employees that are more conscious of their office environment are part of a general wellness trend – people are becoming more aware of their lifestyles, wanting them to be healthy and sustainable. This drives demand for a healthy and sustainable office environment where air quality, lighting and temperature are key aspects.

Already, more than half of office workers say that their employer cares about their wellbeing, and a third say that their office is designed with the employees’ health as a first priority. This is good news for facility managers and service providers: high quality facility management is becoming an important unique selling point when companies decide which offices to rent.

The future will be bright for cleaning companies and service providers that don’t just bring a low price per square meter to the table, but offer a holistic approach to office hygiene and sustainability, meeting the demands of increasingly conscious workers and giving their clients a competitive edge.

The Flexible Office
Offices around the world are not only becoming more connected, their layouts are evolving as well. Over 60 percent say that their office has been redesigned at least once in the past three years. While individual rooms or cubicles and open landscapes still dominate, 15 percent already have other kinds of office environments. Still, 65 percent of workers agree that office space design has an impact on the atmosphere between co-workers, but what kind of office do they want?

Demands seem somewhat contradictory at first glance. Though 47 percent of office workers say they prefer an office designed to enable and encourage more social interaction, at the same time, 65 percent want an office designed to enable a quieter and more peaceful working environment.

A one-size-fits-all office won’t do the trick: needs differ from day to day, as well as between different workers.

Activity-based offices, providing different environments that support different kinds of tasks instead of one fixed personal desk, can provide a good mix to meet these needs. But for an activity-based office to be efficient, its layout needs to be well-organized and understood by employees; the result of a thorough analysis and dialogue process centered on their needs.

In a more flexible office environment, accommodating differences and empowering workers to influence their situation is also important with regards to hygiene. Employees aren’t homogenous, and neither is employee hygiene. 53 percent of the respondents say the hygiene level differs a lot between individuals at their office, while only 21 percent disagree.

Over half of workers globally often worry about getting infected by colleagues going to work when they are sick, which may explain why six out of ten believe that working remotely is good for their health. As we shift toward sharing more office space, expect solutions allowing employees themselves to be proactive in ensuring office hygiene to increase in demand.