One-third of employees in the U.S. often work remotely. The number of remote workers is up 115% in the past decade. With a rise in remote work, some may believe that a focus on great office space is becoming less relevant. Who needs to put time into building an inspiring workspace when your team is posted up in coffee shops in Portugal, or sitting in their cozy home office? 

But, the increased desire for remote working does come with a trade-off. As teams experience less and less face time, the physical workplace has more opportunity than ever to be a powerful place of productivity. While we’ve touched on tactics for building engaging office spaces – let’s take a closer look at why that positive space for your team is a critical need in our changing workforce. 

Collaboration through spontaneous connection

While leading Pixar Studios, Steve Jobs said, “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say “Wow” and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

There is a unique synergy that happens when you’re physically around your team. Additionally, research shows that remote workers are more likely to quit because of loneliness or low engagement. Coworking spaces wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t this type of need. Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Working reported that 17% of people who work remotely struggle with the collaboration piece of their role while being out of the office.  

Providing the right type of collaborative areas in your office are key as your dispersed team will welcome and appreciate this type of interaction upon coming into the office. Areas like game rooms, open kitchens, and beer taps can create the ‘spontaneous connection’ moments that give a team the energy boost it may need. 

Employees feeling “seen”

Having the option to skip the commute and work from the comfort of your own home is something over 99% of U.S. workers have said they desire. However, simple interactions like saying “Good morning” to a passing coworker or offering a solution to a teammate over lunch is difficult to replace entirely. When your remote workers do come into the office, they’re likely looking for a sense of belonging and to be seen as an impactful part of the company. 

Working independently can be liberating, but it can also begin to feel like you’re working in a vacuum. Does anyone care what you’re doing, and how does it compare to a larger team? What are the rewards, and how do you experience the satisfaction of doing something meaningful? Posting leaderboards in the office regarding friendly competitions or getting creative with some visual recognition of project progress can be easy, valuable ways to remind your employees that they’re making a difference. 

Company engagement

Employee engagement comes along with a sense of belonging within the company. Productivity can rise for remote teams, but a connection to a company’s larger values can weaken simply from being more dispersed. Knowing that employees who feel connected to their company’s values can result in a 21% greater profitability overall, it’s beneficial to create an office environment that reminds the team of the spirit of the company. 

In other words, the right office space can support the feeling of being a part of a team, fostering engagement and dedicated employees. By showcasing clear values represented in office artwork or design, choosing spaces that are unique to your team (like a whiskey tasting lounge or music room), stocking your kitchen with healthy snacks, or scheduling meaningful events that reflect what your team is interested in while they’re together are great ways to maximize engagement. 

It may be counterintuitive but creating an amazing office environment is even more important during this time of flexible, remote working. A great workplace has the opportunity to be a space for focus, collaboration, productivity, and belonging. After all, the team being in separate places can actually maximize the potency of in-person time.

Through designing great spaces to foster teamwork and organic creativity, providing visual recognition of people’s work and progress, and having your teams’ values speak loud and clear through the workplaces’ design – remote work can be the perfect complement to a great physical office space. If your team is partially remote and would like to talk more about how to strike a balance between flexibility and the right in-person environment, connect with Eddie Rymer at, or 651-226-7835.


Eddie Rymer
SVP - Avison Young