Three key truths about hybrid work that are transforming commercial real estate. How can companies adopt it, and what will its impact be on the workplace?
Hybrid work gained prominence in the wake of COVID-19 as many companies adopted virtual work policies - almost overnights, in some cases - to ensure the health and safety of employees during the pandemic.
Today, many office workers like their newfound flexibility. CBRE's most recent Workforce Sentiment Survey of 10,000 employees across 18 countries, 85% of respondents said they would prefer to work virtually at least two to three days a week going forward.
For many companies, having some employees who work outside the office is not new. But the broad-scale recognition that organizations need to sustained virtual connectivity at a scale and actively support a hybrid workforce marks a new approach for many such companies, which involves rethinking how, when and where we work.
1. Hybrid Work Isn't New. But It's Now Normal.
The pandemic accelerated the adoption of workplace flexibility, demonstrating that many people can be productive outside the office. Work now includes a multitude of digital-first tasks, such as writing emails and creating spreadsheets—which can be accomplished virtually and often were prior to COVID-19. Hybrid work is consequently something many already engaged in to varying degrees before the pandemic.
2. Hybrid Work Will Require a Hybrid Workplace.
With employers viewing the office as a place for collaboration and meaningful employee connection, the role of the workplace is shifting towards a more intentional work setting defined by its ability to bring people and teams together. This shift has marked implications for office design, planning and workplace equity—or balancing the in-office and virtual employee experiences.
3. Hybrid Work Will Lead to More Consumer-Oriented Offices.
In this 'next normal,' organizations will need to create differentiated offices where employees want to work. This will lead to more consumer-oriented approaches to the workplace where employers design their offices around the needs of their workforce.
There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Approach. By far the most popular approach to hybrid work involves setting guidance for who can—or should—be in the office and when. CBRE calls this approach “hybrid work with guardrails,” and it’s being pursued by 78% of large companies with 10,000 or more employees.
The Challenges Behind Adopting Hybrid Work
Despite the interest in hybrid work among companies and employees, businesses face real-world challenges in adopting it. Some of the most common challenges include the following:
- Hybrid work is difficult to implement
- Hybrid work makes it challenging to ensure workplace equity for all employees.
- A hybrid workplace can lead to a disconnected workforce.
Hybrid work involves more than giving employees the binary choice to work virtually or in the office. It requires understanding the unique needs and working styles of both individual employees and teams.
We believe the successful adoption of hybrid work within a company requires defining WHERE we can accomplish work, WHAT work requires in-person collaboration and WHO benefits most from spending time in the office. An overarching question is HOW workspaces advance company objectives, employee collaboration and culture.
In short, the successful adoption of hybrid work first involves understanding the unique needs of the company and the workforce before prescribing workplace and employee policy strategies.
Want to learn more?
Download our comprehensive "The next normal" hybrid work report and/or contact one of your local workplace experts for insights and solutions tailored to your business.
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Sweden: Mikael Alserud, +47 468 94 806 (Norwegian mobile number)
Finland: Kristina Borg, +358 405 167 459
Denmark: Jakob Hald, +45 317 16 897