I read a lot about hybrid work, as my summer reading list makes clear. All this reading has allowed me to better understand the many advantages of hybrid work for employers and talent alike. I want to explore five of the biggest advantages below:
1. Less Commuting Time
Surveys make it clear that people don’t dislike the office: they dislike commuting to the office. When asked what they enjoyed most about working from home, 79% of people said ditching their commutes.
The 1999 film “Office Space” opens with the hero (played by Ron Livingston) stuck in traffic on his way to work. The camera pans between a frustrated Livingston honking his horn as he inches forward and an old man walking on a nearby sidewalk. Needless to say, the old man is moving faster than Livingston.
Hybrid work has enabled people to cut back on those 5-10 hours per week they’d normally spend commuting and instead focus on getting actual work done. Less commuting also saves money on gas, which reduces CO2 emissions and even decreases traffic accidents.
2. Reduced CRE overhead/footprint for employers
For most businesses, real estate is the second-highest operating expense, after payroll. With people using the office for only 40% of the week, on average, employers can reduce their CRE overhead costs by reducing the size of their workspace. With so much talk of a looming recession, many companies are planning to scale back their CRE expenses and office footprints.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, the average employer can save $11,000 every year for each employee who works remotely for half the week.
3. Purpose-Centric Offices
The old idea of the office as the default workspace is dead, and if the film “Office Space” is any indication, nobody is mourning its loss.
Today’s office needs to earn its occupancy rates by providing people with a workplace experience they can’t get working at home. That purpose might be face-to-face collaboration with teams and colleagues or office programming that help builds company culture.
And yes, the “office-with-a-purpose” will force companies to reimagine and reconfigure their physical workplace, but that’s all to the good.
4. Expanded Talent Pool
Before the pandemic, cities like San Francisco and Boston were discrete economic ecosystems. With hybrid and remote work, employers can hire talent from anywhere and have people collaborate seamlessly via technologies and practices that support distributed teams, whether they’re in Brooklyn or Bangladesh.
The idea that talent should look a certain way or can only be found in certain (privileged) places is an antiquated idea that needs to go into the dustbin of history. Talent can exist anywhere, and so can the hybrid workplace.
5. Genuine Productivity
I have a writer friend who used to work at a Boston-area bank. He was unhappy with the job and used to carry a clipboard around the office so people would think he was busy. When asked to perform a task, my friend (who now runs his own business) would consult his blank clipboard, with a pained look on his face, and say “I’m so sorry, but my to-do list is full.”
Hybrid work has helped people be productive and reduced many of the “performative” aspects of the office. Now people can build schedules that meet their needs, without feeling the pressure of their manager over their shoulder. No one knows what increases your team members' productivity better than them.
Thank you for reading! I hope you’ll have a relaxing and enjoyable final few weeks of summer . . . See you again in September.