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Home » Future of work » Flexibility in the workplace is an expectation, not a perk

Ryan Anderson

Vice President, Global Research and Insights, MillerKnoll

With work and life entering a new era, organisations have an opportunity to reimagine the role of the modern workplace.

Since the pandemic, the world’s understanding of the very notion of ‘work’ had to expand beyond the range of activities that takes place in an office.

More people are resigning

Organisations across industries began testing out distributed work strategies, but a lack of serendipitous interactions and impromptu face-to-face conversations have led to an erosion of both the ‘weak ties’ and the stronger workplace connections that are vital to long-term morale and wellbeing.

Those companies that tried to hit the snooze button on this acknowledgement are already feeling the consequences. Many (71%) workers who are dissatisfied with the flexibility their employers offer are open to looking for a new job in the next year (Future Forum, 2022). Data suggests this so-called ‘Great Resignation’ may not be a blip, but rather a trend with potential to expand beyond 2022.

Recognise employee expectations

The pandemic fuelled a widespread embrace of flexible work practices. But changes that started as triage have shown incredible resilience, quickly becoming ingrained and deeply valued among workers across industries and geographies. Flexibility and choice have become expectations — and these expectations are not budging.

In response, many organisations have turned to hybrid workplace strategies to help reverse these trends. They recognise hybrid’s potential to foster trust and deliver more equitable experiences for employees. 

However, it’s not enough for organisations to provide their people with a choice of where to work on a given day. Organisations must also ensure the quality of those choices — at home, in a co-located office or elsewhere — with resources and support.

Flexibility and choice have become expectations — and these expectations are not budging.

Transform your real estate through inclusive environments 

Hybrid working gives people the flexibility to choose to work outside of the office when that’s the best choice for them and their work. But the office itself can be reimagined to better support the full range of work experiences that hybrid workers want to have when they do come into the office.

Community restoration 

Humans are social beings longing for connection. By providing areas that encourage people to interact with their extended networks, the modern workplace can help restore a sense of community. 

Team immersion

Collaborative work is an ebb and flow of coming together and working independently. By following more of a neighbourhood model — in which team space is owned and individual spaces are shared within it — the modern workplace can provide a more immersive team experience that better supports the full range of collaborative work. 

Individual focus and reflection 

The past two years have stressed our homes in many ways. If you had a room to spare, it became a home office, classroom or gym. If you didn’t, finding focus has been a challenge.  

Team members who need time alone to form well-rounded thoughts, ideas and creations require spaces within the modern workplace where they can achieve deep, productive focus while still staying connected to their organisation. 

Strengthen your community through belonging 

When workplace strategy gives everyone equal footing to be productive and successful and spaces designed to address the needs of the broadest array of people, something greater is achieved.  Consider the problems facing your organisation today. To solve them, you need more voices at the table, all of whom feel comfortable contributing their perspectives.

At MillerKnoll, we see the power of design as an instrument for positive change. We’re ready to use that power to help you and your organisation provide more equitable experiences through inclusive design, fostering a greater sense of belonging among your people.

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