Can you imagine spending 5 days a week in an office? Neither can we.
There are a number of reasons we believe that a return to a five day office workweek won’t happen. It’s time to embrace remote work or hybrid models.
Health and Density
Companies will need to provide more space per employee. Social density will be thought of differently after Covid. Instead of budgeting 7-9 square feet per person (desk, work station, chair, etc), companies will need to budget 10-14 feet. Unless companies rapidly grow their real estate footprints it’s unlikely that their offices will be able to accommodate as many people. As a result, some people will be asked to return to the office less frequently.
The number one reason why people enjoy WFH is that they don’t have to commute. This data point comes up time and time again on surveys for why people don’t want to return to the office. Companies want to retain their employees and if this is a perk that can be easily and readily dispensed, it will be. For this reason, companies won’t require staff to commute each day to the office.
There is also something to be said for individual privacy. Instead of the open floor plan with everyone watching, people can now operate in the comfort of their own home. They can feel more relaxed. Heck, they can even strap on some leg massagers or play music on their speakers as long as they are getting their work done.
Companies can save money by having staff come into the office less frequently – less utilities are consumed, less snacks are provided, less on site perks are needed. Having some of these costs fall onto the shoulders of workers who don’t come will help the bottom lines and operational profitability of firms.
Because technology levels the playing field
In times past, there were not great VoIP solutions or video conferencing systems to connect people seamlessly, cheaply, and rapidly. Today, solutions exist that turn those old paradigms on their heads. As a result of technological improvements – think Google Meets, Zoom, etc – people just don’t need to go into offices to sit in a conference room.
In general, the workplace has become far more liberal and expansive over the past 4 decades. Women have entered the workforce, sale of suits has declined, and people with diverse backgrounds and educations are welcoming to new roles and positions. People are more flexible, generous, and open to different remote work setups. This means that the cultural norms of performance evaluations, career management, and what “success” looks like are changing. These are great evolutions. You need less face time and more “impact” time. If you can deliver more impact from home, companies won’t force you to come in everyday to play the same old political games.
The future remains unwritten and in many respects it is unknowable. But trends to emerge and the comfort many white collar workers have with remote work is here to stay. People like going to offices – some of the time – to collaborate, share meals, work on creative projects, and enjoy their co-workers company. But these are actions that don’t need to be completed every single work day. In fact, they are made even sweeter by happening somewhat less frequently.
As a result of these trends, firsthand experiences, and survey data we believe that a five day a week office won’t be the norm. More likely, people will go back in some fashion 3 or 4 days a week. This will enable employees – and companies – to strike the right balance across all of the areas that matter to both parties: collaboration, flexibility, and impact.