More companies are beginning to implement work-from-home or hybrid work models for their employees as the desire for more flexibility proves to be a lasting result of the pandemic. Working from home does come with benefits, including the lack of commutes, the ability to take care of appointments and errands, and fewer interruptions from meetings and small talk. And while there have been claims that working from home may increase productivity, many studies have shown that working from home results in more hours worked, difficulty setting boundaries between work and non-work activities, and decreased visibility within a company. The pandemic has changed the way we view office work, but it is important to take note of the effects it can have on a company’s culture and overall performance.
The University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics determined that around 21% of total post-pandemic work hours will be from home, a major increase from 5% before the pandemic. Each company has its own way of handling the demand for more flexibility, but the trend suggests that even those that are embracing a hybrid or work from home model realize the importance of spending time together in an office setting. It is also important to note that office leases have been returning to normal length terms; nationally, the average lease signed in the second quarter of 2021 had 7.4 years of term. This is in contrast to the shorter-term leases and renewals signed during peak Covid when there was much more uncertainty. This indicates that businesses are becoming more comfortable with signing longer-term leases again, showing the value that they put on having a physical office space.
How do we make this space a place people want to be?
Are we willing to give up our leverage?
Upon asking themselves these questions, decision-makers will likely realize that for most business models, having an office is almost essential for collaborative and innovative efforts. Even with modern technologies, there is still no replacement for traditional face-to-face teamwork efforts. While it can be argued that most meetings and seminars can be held virtually, there are many other facets of business that stand to benefit from a traditional workplace environment.