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Workspace Interiors, Inc. Shares New Data from Steelcase regarding the Highs and Lows of Working from Home and its Impact on the Future Workplace

Recent data released from Steelcase, Grand Rapids, Michigan (Jan 21, 2021) finds the status quo work experience of 2020—which featured the majority of office employees working from home for most of the year—shows just how much it’s cost some businesses in terms of lost productivity, engagement and innovation. According to the report, 41% of workers who work from home frequently are dissatisfied with their work-from-home experience while only 19% are fully satisfied. Experiences and affordances at home vary greatly from worker to worker, which may explain why the data finds 95% expect to return to the office in some capacity. As many companies begin to plan their future work experience, this data can be used as a guide to design the future.

The research from Steelcase includes findings collected throughout the pandemic in as many as 10 countries with more than 32,000 participants, including business leaders and real estate decision makers who represent millions of workers. The findings show when people are dissatisfied with their work-from-home experience it results in a 14% reduction in engagement, 12% drop in productivity and 6% decline in innovation– factors that can hurt a company’s bottom line. Many workers also reported a drop in quantity, quality and consistency of work. This loss could tally as much as $114M in lost revenue for large companies.

“The pandemic has reshaped many aspects of our lives, including where and how people want to work,” said Gale Moutrey, vice president of workplace innovation. “Their experiences working from home, and what they face when they return to the office, have influenced what they want and expect to see in the workplace going forward. Our data shows the majority of workers want to return to the office and their experiences during the pandemic will provide the guidance for a new, better work experience.”

“What Gale shares is certainly an experience we, as a company with professional talent, can relate to directly”, says Bob Feathers, President and CEO of Workspace Interiors, Inc. “While one office returned very early to the office, another has worked from home for nearly twelve months. Resilience, adaptability, dedication, and creativity are attributes most every company possesses, that have not only survived but thrived, during this challenging time. A time I think we can all describe as the “new normal”. What is missing for us is more than the social connections confirmed in this study, but the face–to–face collaboration peer support provides. This is especially true of new team members that either joined companies just before or during this “remote” world. This is true for Workspace Interiors, Inc. as well. I trust that every company, WE certainly DO, appreciate the dedication and adaptability of our teams, but especially the newer team members in their first professional post-graduate careers. Returning for some, and experiencing for many, the office can be a daunting step. As confirmed and shared in this study, employers are faced with many decisions –some costly –to accommodate this return. We are not different and have committed significant capital and resource to assure the space is first, safe, welcoming, preventative, and encouraging. Our team is committed to learning from our experience and those shared in many studies to provide solutions and resources to help our customers provide not only a positive experience for their team members, but one that promotes wellness, increased productivity, and density.”

 Steelcase’s research uncovered several benefits and challenges among people currently working full-time from home, including the following in the U.S:

  • 37% report a worsening sense of isolation
  • 20% report a drop in productivity
  • 19% report a drop in engagement
  • 35% enjoyed not commuting
  • 26% liked the ability to focus
  • 20% are experiencing a worsening speed of decision making
  • 17% have worsening work-life balance

Poor work-from-home setups are among the many factors contributing to unsatisfactory work-from-home experiences. For example, 36% of workers lack a place free from distraction and 28% do not have a physically comfortable workspace—instead toiling from their bed or couch. Nine percent of workers are still consistently working from their beds. All workers are not facing the same challenges; however, 75% of directors or above always or almost always work at a desk and 46% have an ergonomic chair. Among individual contributors, just 48% work at desks and 24% have ergonomic chairs.

“Our research shows that people want and expect to go back to the office, but they want a space that is safe, comfortable, inspiring and productive. They also want more control over where and how they work. This data will help leaders design workspaces that are flexible, resilient and support the new ways people want to work.”

As organizations consider the future work experience for their people, more flexible policies appear to be the norm. Only 5% of organizations expect to work from home full time, only up slightly from 3% before the pandemic. Nearly a quarter will name the office as the primary work location, while the vast majority, 72%, will take a hybrid approach working from both home and office with greater flexibility. Some organizations are also exploring satellite or co-working spaces closer to where workers live, which may be in response to positive reactions to a lack of commute.

Additional data from the Steelcase report will be released in the coming weeks and contain data on worker’s new needs and expectations, four major workplace shifts on the horizon and new principles for the future of office design.

About the Research

Since the onset of the pandemic, Steelcase has committed to conducting ongoing research to help organizations understand what is really happening to their workforce and the impact it is having on their business. The Steelcase data includes findings from eight qualitative and quantitative primary research studies. This work was designed to measure the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on work, workers and the workplace. The studies were conducted in as many as ten countries and have included more than 32,000 participants around the world using methodologies based in the social sciences.

About Steelcase

For over 108 years, Steelcase Inc. has helped create great experiences for the world’s leading organizations, across industries. We demonstrate this through our family of brands – including Steelcase®, Coalesse®, Designtex®, Turnstone®, Smith System®, Orangebox® and AMQ®. Together, they offer a comprehensive portfolio of architecture, furniture and technology products and services designed to unlock human promise and support social, economic, and environmental sustainability. We are globally accessible through a network of channels, including over 800 Steelcase dealer locations. Steelcase is a global, industry-leading, and publicly traded company with fiscal 2020 revenue of $3.7 billion. For more information, visit

About Workspace Interiors, Inc.

At Workspace Interiors, Inc., we strive to enrich people’s lives by helping them “work better”. People want to come back to the office, but they don’t want to return to “normal”. During this pandemic, working from home and collaborating from a distance, we believe the importance of the workplace has become clear: An office is more than just a place to work. The workplace drives innovation, growth, creativity, and fosters culture and a sense of community, while providing the tools and resources people need to connect and be productive.

At WSI, we are compelled with not just selling furniture, but rather solving for today’s complex challenges. “People” are at the heart of everything we do. We believe community matters — the neighborhoods in which we reside — the individual business that call our communities “home”. Whichever industry or role you currently find yourself, we provide research+insight-driven solutions for: Corporate, Healthcare, Education, Hospitality, Financial Institutions, Government/GSA, Industrial/Manufacturing, Home Office, and Outdoor.

With two WorkLife Centers conveniently located in the Appalachian Highlands (Tri-Cities) and Knoxville, our goal is to help you make your job easier. Whether you design work spaces, manage them, or work in them—we’re passionate about creating spaces your employees love and feel safe to work in.