This Week in Hybrid & Remote Work – April 16th Edition

Before we dive into the top 5 hybrid and remote work articles that caught our attention this week, I thought we’d do a quick pulse check on the popularity of these two topics. The chart below shows the amount of press coverage each topic has received per month over the past 12 months. 

Image showing the comparison of press coverage about Remote work and Hybrid work

While it’s clear that Remote Work is clearly the more dominant topic by far (at least in volume of coverage), here are a few things to note:

  • The volume of Hybrid Work articles nearly doubled from February to March, while Remote Work articles increased by only 10% during that time
  • Halfway through April, Hybrid Work is on pace to grow another 50% over the March volume
  • On the other hand, the volume of Remote Work coverage is currently on pace for a 20% reduction in coverage compared to March

In summary, press coverage of Remote Work – while still dominant – is trending down 20% while Hybrid Work coverage is increasing 50% MoM. From my perspective, these numbers are interesting, but don’t tell the whole story. As someone who tracks the press coverage of these two topics daily, the quality of the articles about Hybrid Work is definitely much higher right now (as is reflected by the fact that all 5 stories below are primarily about Hybrid, not Remote). So even though Remote Work is still getting more coverage, it seems like much of the coverage is repetitive and losing steam, while Hybrid is clearly gaining steam. I’d give it 3 more months before mentions/coverage of Hybrid Work outgrows Remote Work.

Alright, now to the main show. Here are the top five articles we thought you’d be interested in this week. 

1) Return to the Office Poses New Challenges, Opportunities for CIOs (Wall Street Journal)

In addition to having some good examples of how companies like Atlassian and PepsiCo plan to handle their returns to the office, this article gets into several interesting thought exercises about Hybrid Work. I thought this was particularly interesting:

Even though the efforts aren’t uniform, chief information officers are rethinking the tech and processes that have guided their companies over the past year of remote work. Some believe physical offices will be reserved for employees whose life circumstances don’t allow them to work remotely, as well as for face-to-face client meetings. Tasks that require individual concentration would be handled from home.

I think this perfectly sums up the intricacies of Hybrid Work, and the fact that it will not be the same for everyone. Some may go into the office more often simply because their circumstances/environment at home aren’t productive. Others will go in only when they need to collaborate and will stay home when they need to focus. It may be an oversimplification, but sometimes a simple policy that people can follow (like “Come into the office whenever you want OR need to”) is better than a complicated one.  

Read the full article in the WSJ here

2) 4 things you need to know about the future of hybrid and remote work (Business Insider)

If you’re only going to click through to one of these articles, make it this one. It does a great job of summarizing four key trends that I 

1. Remote work is leading to burnout.

2. Prioritizing camaraderie and communication can improve remote-work culture.

3. The rise of remote work also means the rise of the virtual headquarters.

4. Employers are debating the type of work that makes the most sense for their workforce.

It’s a quick read, but worth it for a high-level overview of these trends. Read the full article in Business Insider here.

3) Study: 64% of employees are willing to pay for access to office space to support hybrid work (Tech Republic

Alright, I’ll just come out and say it – I don’t believe the headline stat of this article at all. Why? It came from a study conducted by WeWork, who has a vested interest in the narrative that employees are willing to pay for shared office spaces themselves. BUT, there’s another stat that came out of this survey that is very interesting:

75% of employees would be willing to give up at least one benefit or perk—including healthcare coverage, cash bonuses and paid time off—for the freedom to choose their work environment.

If this stat is to be believed, that’s a pretty amazing indication of how strongly people feel about wanting the freedom to work from anywhere (WFx). There are a ton of stats in this report, mostly dealing with employees’ perception of Hybrid Work as more important than traditional benefits. 

Read the full article in Tech Republic here.

4) Hurry, Time Is Running Out To Lock In The Benefits Of Remote Work (Forbes

One topic that I don’t see getting much attention (at leat in the business & technology press) is the fact that a lot of people are dealing with varying levels of anxiety about going back to “normal.” It’s not just that we don’t want to put real clothes on again – it’s that many have realized that they are much more productive, and have a more balanced life, when able to work remotely. 

But I’m also anxious: not about the vaccine, but about the rush to “go back” to the way things were pre-Covid and blow the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the pandemic created to rethink how, where and when we work. The big question for business leaders should be this: Do we really want to go back?

The article then goes on to provide leaders with a very interesting set of questions they should ask themselves to make sure that they don’t throw out all of the lessons learned during the pandemic:

1) In what ways did Covid-19 change your relationship with clients or customers? 

2) How well is remote work working for your knowledge workers?

3) Have you done what’s needed to “liquify” your talent and institutionalize “agile”?

Read the full article in Forbes here

5) This is How IBM and Slack are Approaching Hybrid Work (Fast Company)

This article was written by the Chief Human Resources Officer at IBM and the head of the Future Forum, a consortium launched by Slack to help companies make the transition to the future of work. This article has a lot of great stats from a new study that IBM and Future Forum did together, so I suggest clicking through for all those interesting data points. And it’s always interesting to hear from two large companies how they’re blueprinting their transition to hybrid work, as well. 

But I also wanted to point out these first two paragraphs, which may be the most succinct way I’ve seen to summarize the pending shift to Hybrid Work:

The past year of remote work has shown us very little about what the future looks like. That’s because our working model simply switched from one extreme to another. In the pre-pandemic world, many companies operated from one defined norm: Work happens primarily in an office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the pandemic, most companies replaced that with a new universal norm: We can’t go to the office, so work happens primarily at home. The future of work for many companies is at neither end of this spectrum. It’s in the middle.

New Future Forum data shows that the majority of knowledge workers globally expect a hybrid future. According to the data, only 17% of workers want a return to full-time in-office work, while 20% want to continue working remotely full time. A majority, 63%, want a mixture of the two.

Read the full article in Fast Company here

Thanks for joining us again (or for the first time!) this week, and check back next Friday for a fresh batch of interesting articles. And for more technical posts on the Digital Workspace tools available to companies as they make the shift to Hybrid & Remote Work, check out the rest of our blog here