New research commissioned from Ipsos by Steelcase and Microsoft dives into employee attitudes and engagement at work across the globe, with focus on office layouts and their impact on productivity.

It found that open plan offices only make up a global average of 23%, and that only 33% of global employees now work in open spaces in assigned workstations. Meantime, about half of all global workers can now, at least sometimes, work remotely (45%).

Titled Engagement and the Global Workplace, the report shows that workers are unsurprisingly technology traditionalists on the job, mostly desk-bound with desktop computers (80%) and landline telephones (86%).

Additionally, only a global average of 35% have relatively easy access to videoconferencing, a stark contrast to the highest in the world, India, with 58%.


Covering 12,480 participants from 17 countries (including China and India), it was found more workplaces are configured with entirely private offices than those comprising completely open space configurations (31% vs. 23%). The majority of workplaces (46%) consists of both open and enclosed private spaces.

Office configuration ratios vary significantly by individual country. For example, in the United Kingdom nearly half (49%) report working in open-plan workstations and only 14% in individual offices, while in Germany the reverse is true—more than half (54%) report working in individual offices and only 19% in open plan. Most employees (60%) are assigned to either an individual or shared private office.

Approximately one-third of employees have assigned workspaces in open environments, and a small fraction (8%) are nomadic workers who are not assigned to a specific space and who regularly work in different places in the office.

Again, this varies significantly by country; workers in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Belgium have sizable populations of mobile workers, while in China and Russia this practice is almost nonexistent.


Individual private offices continue to be a function of hierarchy: The higher people are in their organisation, the more likely they are to have their own private office.

Because private offices traditionally symbolise status and autonomy—and an implied level of control within many cultures and organisations—it’s predictable that those with private offices are often more satisfied with their work environment overall.

Despite perceptions that work is more collaborative and mobile than ever before, the data shows that traditional work environments, and corresponding traditional workstyles, are still more common.


The research was shared on the back of Steelcase partnership with Microsoft Corp to unveil a new 5,100 sq ft Steelcase WorkLife Center in Singapore (pictured below). Located at Mohamad Sultan Road, it features Creative Spaces – a collection of five distinctly-different, technology-enabled work spaces.


All images / Steelcase