Employees now expect more autonomy and employers who build trust and offer choice will gain a competitive edge in the race for talent.
As employees return to the office, the desire for flexibility and choice will drive new behaviours in how and when they engage with spaces of all kinds.
Despite so much focus on remote work during the pandemic, future real estate strategies likely will not favour fully remote or fully at the office. Rather, strategies will support employee choice over the experiences and actions that allow them to integrate life and work.
According to our research, only 28% of employees desire a fully remote arrangement. Most employees want to work in a more balanced way between home and the office, and most employers anticipate supporting this shift. While this will result in lower utilization of the office on a regular basis, it will not mean an end to the office. Rather, it represents a fresh start that will allow company decisionmakers to reimagine the role and functionality of the physical offices. Fluidity in workstyles is not new; rather, the pandemic has put a spotlight on a practice that has been building slowly over the past decade.
With this accelerated change, most occupiers are moving toward models that support a more balanced workstyle. Each company’s approach will differ based on its strategic priorities and beliefs about which work arrangements will enhance its competitive position and enable it to recruit, engage and retain key talent.
The hybrid workforce network
Workplace policy must be fundamentally reset in light of a more distributed workforce and hybrid workstyles.
The physical office is still a requirement for most
Overall, most companies expect that their workforce will still be largely office-based. While many are taking a conservative approach toward full-time remote work, some are assessing if upward of 75% of their employees could work this way. New models are emerging such as the “virtual first” workforce that primarily depends on remote environments but expect that teams will come together on a regular basis to connect and collaborate.
Full-time remote is a very different arrangement than allowing choice with responsibility. Those companies that are planning on even a portion of full-time remote workers are beginning to weigh the realities of such an arrangement. This could be one area that fluctuates post-pandemic as approximately only 28% of employees desire to work on a full-time remote basis.
The financial obligations, compliance, employee engagement, and liability considerations of remote work programs must be weighed, including the unintended consequences of imposing full-time remote work on employees who may not welcome it. Whether this type of work becomes a choice or a requirement, companies must develop formal remote work policies and standards in collaboration with their human resources, technology, finance, and legal departments. Defining parameters for different scenarios, such as moving jurisdictions, will enable companies to manage risks and complexities accordingly.
Additionally, although remote working is favoured by some, there also are commonly reported areas of discontent among business leaders and employees. Companies that depend heavily on innovation and customer engagement report special challenges. For employees, feelings of isolation or lack of connection with team members and visibility to leadership are real concerns. As portions of the workforce return to the office, while another portion migrates to a more remote model, leaders must be in tune with the potential for unintended consequences once employees are no longer under a restricted workstyle amid the pandemic.
For further information on restructuring office space, contact Mike Young or visit or our website.
Read other articles in the series:
Resetting Real Estate Strategy: Location - A series of core truths guiding the future of work (part 2 of 6)
Resetting Real Estate Strategy: Design and Experience - A series of core truths guiding the future of work (part 5 of 6)