This Week in Hybrid & Remote Work – June 4th Edition

Welcome to another installment of This Week in Hybrid & Remote Work. One trend we continue to see is more articles about large organizations announcing their hybrid workforce plans moving forward. But we’ve also noticed another, less-helpful trend. There is a sharp increase in articles with click-bait headlines about how hybrid work is the “worst of both worlds.” 

For now we’re going to avoid posting and discussing any of those articles largely because there’s usually not much substance behind the click-bait title. It’s common to see contrarian articles pop up once any topic reaches a fever pitch, and we suspect that’s what’s happening with hybrid work coverage. If that changes in the future, we’ll bring that to your attention and discuss it. 

For now, though, most press coverage about hybrid work seems to contradict the doom-and-gloom naysayers. Let’s dig in. 

1) Home-office, HQ, hybrid or work-from-anywhere? This is what businesses are planning (World Economic Forum)

Like most posts from the World Economic Forum, this article is jam-packed with stats, charts, and graphs. If you’re looking to have some great data at the ready for presentations or blog posts, this is a post worth bookmarking for that reason alone. But one of the points the article makes caught my eye in particular:

The reinvention of the office and a new hybrid work model could address social gaps and provide a more inclusive recovery for all.

Salesforce’s Gavin Patterson suggests that the reinvention of office culture is poised to make bigger social waves, “This isn’t just about the future of work. This is about the next evolution of business culture and of society – business helping to build a resilient platform for positive change and growth.”

What are some concrete examples of that “positive change” that hybrid & remote work is brining around? 

Many workers have made big wins from remote work such as savings on transport, better work-life balance and more autonomy. Managers have had to trust their staff more, and zoom calls have been a great leveller – removing barriers for those unable to attend in person. Remote working was highly requested (but often refused) by disabled people before the pandemic; online working now offers a much more inclusive experience.

The article goes on to talk about how the future of work is accelerating the development of inclusive tech, is helping with the mental health of employees, and many other benefits. It’s a great, data-driven read, so check out the full article here.

2) Hybrid or Remote Work? These Two Data-Driven Activities Will Help You Decide (Inc.)

Sticking with the “data-driven article” theme, I came across this article from Inc. columnist Rebecca Hinds who has been crushing it with some of the best articles on prepping for hybrid work in the past couple of months. Per usual, Hinds dives right in and gets to the point in her opener:

Many companies are basing their hybrid or remote work strategy on instinct. Yet it’s dangerous to let your intuitions or–worse–biases drive your strategy. The companies that will thrive as they transition to new hybrid and remote work models will adopt a data-driven approach. As a leader, here’s how to use data, not your gut, to make important decisions about your remote or hybrid work strategy moving forward.

Hinds then outlines three concrete ways you can harness data to inform the right hybrid work strategy for your organization. At a high level, these include:

  • Conduct an organizational network analysis
  • Understand your company’s work graph
  • Embrace a data-driven perspective

The “work graph” is a particularly fascinating idea, and Hinds goes into detail about how this approach is utilized at Asana. This helped put the work graph in context, and you’ll really start to think about how this could be applied to your organization. 

Read the full article here

3) Deutsche Bank Unveils Hybrid Model for Post-Pandemic Work Return (Bloomberg)

It wouldn’t be a TWIH&RW post if we didn’t include at least one article about yet another large company outlining their plans for hybrid work. This week, it’s Deutsche Bank.

[Deutsche Bank] Chief Financial Officer James von Moltke said a range of 40 to 60% of working from home makes sense.

“We need to find the right balance which will make all of us together more efficient and effective,” according to the memo. “To support new ways of working we will make targeted investments in our real estate and upgrade our digital infrastructure to facilitate increased collaboration.”

That “real estate” mention caught my eye in particular. This is something I’ve always been fascinated with – the massive amount that companies pay in real estate. Obviously for a company like Deutsche that expense is less of a factor than it is for a startup, but as this article shows – it is indeed still a factor, even for large multinational orgs. 

Deutsche Bank has repeatedly highlighted it wants to cut costs by reducing office space as the pandemic has shown that increased work-from-home arrangements don’t lower productivity. The lender expects to achieve “further savings” from an accelerated “rationalization of its real estate portfolio.” 

Read the full article here

4) ‘No-one knows the right answer’: Digiday Research shows return-to-office strategies are in flux (Digiday)

Always a sucker for a good survey, this one caught my eye. I also love the blunt headline – “no-one knows the right answer.” Refreshing. 

One section that I thought was particularly interesting discussed the data about how much respondees misjudged the return to work:

The report also highlighted people badly misjudged how quickly things would return to normal. For a previous poll in January, 38% of the same number of respondents said they expected to do in-person meetings within three months. But when surveyed in April, fewer than 20% had actually done so. Meanwhile, 20% of respondents said in January that they expected to attend in-person conferences in three months’ time, whereas in reality only 4% ended up doing so.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here, and some fun data that goes beyond the typical remote work survey – so check out the full article here

5) Getting People Back To The Office: 5 Critical Factors For Hybrid Work (Forbes)

This article provides a really good overview of factors that organizations need to think about as they plan their strategies moving forward. But before we highlight those, this section stood out to me. It talks about how “none of us are unscathed” by the events of the past 18 months – something I think we all need to be mindful of as we deal with our colleagues:

None of us is unscathed and the ‘return’ will be stressful, no matter where you’ve been working. According to Gallup, in April 2020, a high of 70% of people reported they were ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ working from home, and this percentage leveled off to an overall average of 56% by February 2021. But some have never left: Front line and healthcare workers remind us not everyone has been home. In addition, those who work in labs, warehouses or manufacturing have likely been toiling away in places other than their kitchen tables. Regardless of the location of our work however, the landscape of the workplace has changed.

As for the 5 critical factors, at a high level the article covers:

  • The Tension Between Individual and Organizational Needs
  • The Tension Between Short Term and Longer Term
  • The Question of Control
  • The Need for Connection
  • Compel, Don’t Cajole

We read a LOT of these articles offering advice, and I found this to be a truly unique take on the steps an org should consider. Check out the full article here

Thanks again for joining us for this week’s roundup, and we look forward to seeing you back here next week!