The talent-optimizing workplace is one that exists in more than one location.

Executive summary

No single way of working was disrupted more or for longer by the COVID-19 pandemic than knowledge work—what until recently was often called “office” work. Millions of workers were forced to retreat suddenly from their office buildings to their homes; most of them have yet to return full-time.

The fate of the corporate workplace is now the subject of significant debate, as positive experiences of homeworking contrast with organizations and individuals eager to get back to collaborating in person. But what does the research actually say about the merits of alternative work strategies?

In an extensive review of academic and business data collected before and during the pandemic, Avison Young has identified the following truths about knowledge work that will shape its future:

  • Knowledge workers want a “Multiverse of Work.” This means both the flexibility to work remotely and a place to gather with coworkers, not either one or the other.
  • Corporate workplaces remain an indispensable tool in maximizing talent. Offices are uniquely capable of supporting a full range of what workers need to excel.
  • Experiencing a Multiverse of Work boosts individual and corporate performance. Academic research conducted before the pandemic and real-world experience during it agrees that balancing work across locations is optimal for business outcomes.
  • High-performing workplaces attract talent and enable excellence. Both remote and at the office, workplace quality matters.
  • The multiverse is not a single prescription, but a concept that unleashes the power of flexibility. Flexible work arrangements will be tailored to a variety of circumstances, but they will also have much in common.

Over the past decade, users of commercial space have increasingly viewed their locations and spaces through the lens of talent: Attracting it, retaining it, and getting the most out of it while at “work.” These findings simply describe the next evolution in optimizing workplaces for human performance. Avison Young’s analysis reveals what comes next, why it will happen, and, most importantly, why it will succeed.


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