Survey on open plan office, home office and coworking

Survey on open plan office, home office and coworking

18.12.2020 Author/s: Nicole Tietze

The impact of the crisis on office jobs is enormous. Since spring 2020, the "record chase" on the office leasing market (not only) in Berlin has come to an abrupt end. For the latest market report for Berliner Sparkasse, we not only compiled the classic market data, but also asked decision-makers about the future of open-plan offices, coworking and home offices. The answers: thoroughly ambivalent.

With the onset of the Corona pandemic in spring 2020, Berlin's office leasing market has come to a standstill. Although the vacancy rate and net initial yield remain at the level of the previous quarter, there have been changes in the other half-year key figures. For example, office space turnover fell by 25% compared to the first half of 2019 and prime rents also fell slightly - compared to Q1/2020.

Together with Berliner Sparkasse, we set up a survey in this market environment. A total of 72 people took part in the online survey in July 2020. The focus was on Berlin, which is also visible in the composition of the participants. Almost 80% of the respondents have their company headquarters in Berlin and 88% in Berlin and the greater metropolitan area.

The survey was supplemented by interviews with selected experts from the Berlin office market. We present the most important results in the blog.

History for now: many people close together in the office. How greater distance on the one hand and home office on the other will affect demand for space is difficult to assess so far.

Spacing and hygiene requirements: Is the open-plan office an outdated model?

The pressure on companies to optimise processes in order to save costs, among other things, has also affected office work in recent years. In this context, many companies are transforming from single or two-person offices to open-plan offices. Many stakeholders expected this to create a more open, dynamic and flexible working atmosphere that would also promote creative processes. With the onset of the Corona pandemic, working in an open-plan office was no longer easily possible due to the recommended rules of the federal government.

The majority of respondents believe that a transformation of office workplaces will begin. Only 15 % believe that this will remain unaffected by the crisis. In addition, a total of 70 % of the participants believe that the current pandemic will lead to a decline in the use of the open-plan office. In contrast, only 4 % believe that an increase in use is to be expected. 25 % think there will be no change.
Home office as a model for the future?

Almost two-thirds of the respondents initially stated that their job would be suitable for home office in principle, even against the background that technical (IT security, internet connection) and labour law conditions (Occupational Health and Safety Act and Workplace Ordinance) must be met. Surprisingly, three quarters of the participants stated that their employees had already had the opportunity to work in a home office before the crisis. This shows that home office has not only been a privilege of a select few. However, about 45% of employers have concerns about this working model. Among other things, they fear that it will lead to a drop in employee performance. A correlation between home office and company size could not be established. The Corona pandemic can therefore be seen as a catalyst, but not as the trigger of this trend.

Influence of the crisis on coworking providers in Berlin

The change in the world of work is leading to new demands on office space. In recent years, coworking has emerged as a product that is currently the focus of media interest. Now the pandemic also seems to be affecting providers of coworking space. An enquiry with Ben Barthel, head of office real estate at BNP Paribas Real Estate in Berlin, revealed that there is a review of the very expansive location policy of recent years. The turnover result of the first half of 2020 also shows the restrained action of the providers.

The participants in the survey are divided on the subject. For example, almost a third believe that there will be an increase in the use of coworking as a result of the Corona crisis. On the other hand, 35 % are convinced that usage will decline. In their opinion, the reason for this is the increasing establishment of home offices or a greater supply of office space; consequently, the demand for coworking space would no longer grow.

Effects on the demand for office space

In the course of the debate on the increasing use of home office, the future demand for space is also a topic of discussion. Almost 90 % of the participants in the survey expect that they will not need any additional office space in the next few years. The experts surveyed also confirm that companies are not currently expanding - there is currently a lack of companies from "overseas" in particular, and demand from tech companies, the drivers of the boom, has also decreased.


In general, the study confirms the ambivalent picture currently prevailing in the market. Thus, the responsible players must critically examine the open-plan office model. Companies will or must maintain distance areas, which speaks for higher space consumption. On the other hand, the experience of the past few weeks shows that home offices will become established in the long term, which means that less office space could be needed. The providers of flexible workspaces are also under scrutiny. The Berlin office market will therefore see growth and consolidation impulses in the medium term. The pressure on demand, which was rising sharply before the crisis, has thus slowed down for the time being. Whether more or less office space will actually be needed in the long term cannot yet be put into a valid context. One thing is certain, however: offices will still be needed in the future; it is quite conceivable, however, that the design of the workplace will change.

Note: The market report can be downloaded from the Berliner Sparkasse website (in German language).

Contact person: Nicole Tietze, Head of Studies in Office Real Estate, tietze [at]