Welcome to this week’s edition of This Week in Remote Work. We usually try to mix up the content a bit each week to touch on a variety of remote work-related topics, but there was an overwhelming trend this week in the content we were seeing:
The future of work is Hybrid Work.
Over the past 10 months of the pandemic, there’s been no shortage of pontification about the future of work, and more specifically, the role that Remote Work would play in that future. It’s become clear to most at this point that many workers (primarily knowledge workers) will not come back to an office full time, even after the pandemic is over. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t be going back to an office EVER.
As we saw through many stories this week, and in our conversations with a few analysts, is that many organizations have come to grips with the fact that while many people can (and will) stay remote 100% moving forward, most of their people will adopt a hybrid model where they work from home some of the time, and come into an office when needed for team meetings or events.
This means that organizations are now moving into the next phase of pandemic-era technology adoption – one where they focus on providing their people with intelligent digital workspaces that ensure employees have a seamless, productive experience no matter where they’re working from that day, and no matter which device they choose to work on.
Here are five of the most interesting Remote Work reads we came across this week, most of which provide more depth and stats on the Hybrid Work evolution.
1) Work Has Outgrown the Office. What’s Next? (Fortune)
In this excellent article for Fortune, Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston uses data from a joint study between Dropbox and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to drive home the point that “work has outgrown a physical setting where everyone spends the workday together.”
The vast majority of employees already say they don’t want to return to pre-pandemic office work when this is over. That’s clear in Dropbox’s internal surveys and in our study with EIU; workers say that the advantages of working remotely outweigh negatives by a wide margin.
And the benefits will become clearer over time. Employees will escape grueling commutes and gain more control over their life choices. Companies will grow stronger as they integrate dispersed talent with diverse perspectives. Opportunity will spread far beyond exclusive urban clusters.
As the advantages of distributed work become the norm, employees will demand them. Companies that understand this and adapt will be the winners in this new world. They’ll attract the top talent, ship the best products, and earn the most market share. Those that don’t evolve will be left behind.
There’s a lot of good stuff in this article – from what this shift away from physical offices means for people’s commutes, how we interact and collaborate, and more. Check out the full article here.
Drafting off of the last article, this Wall Street Journal piece quotes Drew Houston and uses Dropbox as one illustration of the many companies who have decided to shift away from having people in the office. The interesting thing here is the clear delineation between when people will come into an office and when they won’t. It’s not just an “everyone works from home two days a week, and from the office three days a week” type of situation. Instead, people will only come into the office based on the TYPE of work they need to do that day:
As the coronavirus upends work, a number of employers say corporate spaces should exist largely, or in some cases entirely, for team-based projects. Companies in industries as varied as technology and financial services are now drawing up plans to rip out individual desks and renovate offices to include floors of meeting rooms and lounges, with workers directed to do their own work at home.
“We’ve gone through a one-way door,” says Drew Houston, founder and chief executive of the technology company Dropbox , which has spent months rethinking its offices and workplace practices. “This is a permanent shift.”
Dropbox is among a small but growing cadre of employers embracing the deskless post-pandemic trend. The company told staffers last year that, once its facilities reopen, it will declare offices near San Francisco and elsewhere essentially off limits to individual work, transforming them into what it calls “Dropbox Studios” for meetings and collaboration among teams.
In this type of scenario, people will likely end up working from home far more often than working in the office. Which places even higher long-term importance on the need for digital workspaces that enable people to work securely from anywhere. Read the full article here.
3) Your Startup Life, Post-Pandemic (NFX)
In typical NFX fashion, this post is so extensive and well-written that there are far too many stats to possibly summarize here. So you definitely need to click over to read the full article to really dig into the meat of it. But one thing we found really interesting was the concept of the “unbundling of where you live and where you work.”
Here are some of the talking points they discuss around this unbundling concept, but this is just one of 6 key shifts that they delve into, so you’ll want to check out the article to explore the others:
- Historically, the fundamental economic relationship between labor markets and real estate markets is that generally speaking people live and work in the same metropolitan area.
- Part of the boom in residential living in many urban neighborhoods and cities that we saw over the past 10 years had to do with people wanting to have a shorter commute to work, wanting to be able to take transit or cycle or even walk to their jobs.
- Remote work really changes that relationship. Remote work means that people end up being able to live farther away from their jobs.
- But it’s not a binary option between remote work and in-office work. There are an inordinate number of degrees in between.
- Some people might only go into the office once a week. Or twice a week. Or once a month. Or basically never. This is very different from going in routinely every day, at the same time, all together, as most people still were before the pandemic.
Once again, more reinforcement of the idea that fully-remote work and hybrid work will be the norm, and that this will look vastly different for different people. Read the full article here.
4) Tools and standards shaping remote work in 2021 (CIO Dive)
Another article about the shift to hybrid work, but this one stood out because it does a great job of discussing the fact that the key factor for success in the future of work – both from a people AND technology perspective – is flexibility.
And when it comes to the technology needed to enable this flexibility, this quote from IDC analyst Amy Loomis stood out to me:
“I don’t think we can talk about remote work in isolation of hybrid work models,” said Amy Loomis, research director, Future of Work at IDC, in an email. While work from home will continue to be the primary setting, this year will see the normalization of any-place, anytime access to “the people, data and applications that you need to get work done.”
So what will this look like? What will be required to deliver access to the people, data, and apps that people need to be productive? Luckily, IDC answered that too with this…
5) eBook – Intelligent Digital Workspaces and the Future of Work (IDC)
This free eBook does require that you fill out a quick form, but what you’ll get is a concise, helpful overview of what the foundational building blocks of digital workspaces – or what IDC is calling “Intelligent Workspaces” – will require.
IDC is introducing the concept behind the intelligent digital workspace. The worker is at the center of the intelligent digital workspace paradigm.
▪ Universal device access is the initial interface to a digital layer of applications, tasks, data, and workgroups and communities.
▪ Workspace infrastructure binds the interfaces, experiences, and underlying data and business IP which provide the guardrails, boundaries, and security of the overall workspace.
▪ AI, machine learning, and analytics technologies proactively recommend the next best action and provide access to the resources required to complete that action.
You can download the eBook here.
Thanks again for joining us for This Week in Remote Work, and if you found this useful, please share it on Twitter or LinkedIn, or send to a colleague you think might be interested. We’ll see you back here next Friday!