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3 Hybrid Workplace Predictions for Corporate Real Estate

With 85% of employees saying they prefer to work remotely at least 2-3 days per week, hybrid workplace models are here to stay, but the ramifications of that stretch beyond organizing team meetings and the right communication technology. 

What is the “next normal” when it comes to corporate real estate in the hybrid workplace? 

Though experts see 2022 as the continuation of post-pandemic rebuilding for the real estate industry, the tapestry of the commercial real estate sector will patch together new uses for old buildings. 

Deloitte’s 2022 Commercial Real Estate Outlook predicts businesses will focus on retrofitting properties and repurposing spaces that are seeing decreased usage, enhancing buildings’ sustainability, and refreshing their perspective on making space more people-driven and flexible.

Hybrid work predictions for corporate real estate

1. CRE leaders will focus on repurposing commercial real estate space

Just because a building has been used as an office in the past does not mean its future is as an office. As companies consolidate underutilized real estate, more buildings are becoming vacant – which presents opportunity rather than problems.

Architect and founder of Real Estate of the Future Nikki Greenberg discussed her new initiative regarding repurposing space in a post-pandemic world, AnyPlace WorkPlace. In a Workplace Innovator Podcast episode, she shared her passion for innovating real estate for the future so that there is no underutilized space.

“I don’t think that a space should ever be vacant,” Greenberg said. “It should always be vibrant.”

If homes can morph from places to primarily eat, sleep, and live to become workspaces, yoga studios, and schools, we can reinvent other corporate real estate spaces too. This mindset is emerging in the development of office neighborhoods.

An effective office neighborhood needs more than powerful Wi-Fi, access to various types of conference rooms and workspaces, and mail services.

This available real estate also can be repurposed to fit a larger social need – cutting down on the homeless population and the housing needs overall in larger cities.

In April, the Rand Corporation released a report that shows repurposing underutilized commercial properties, such as hotels, motels, or vacant offices, could provide 9-14% of the housing Los Angeles County needs to produce over the next eight years.

Though it takes effort, planning, and coordination, this adaptive repurposing can lead to long-term benefits to areas from large cities to smaller communities.

2. Corporate real estate leaders will improve sustainability efforts

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives continue to rank as high priorities for CRE leaders. As buildings are either adapted for new use or built new, including elements of sustainability and environmental friendliness is imperative.

Sustainable properties play a significant part in creating a better tenant experience, especially when they include emerging technologies (proptech) that focus on ESG. 

More than 75% of survey respondents said their companies will likely expand partnerships with or invest in proptech, including sustainability and risk management software.

3. We’ll see greater flexibility and employee-focused design

Part of making workspaces more people-centric is looking at the primary factors keeping employees working from home rather than in the office. Employees who prefer working remotely cite the ability to balance work with other responsibilities (ie. children or other dependent family members), a healthier work-life balance, and a decreased commute.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Owl Labs “State of Remote Work” reported employees saved 40 minutes a day not commuting. The JPMorgan Chase 2022 Commercial Real Estate Market Trends points to updating infrastructure to enhance roads and shorten commutes further. These investments in infrastructure benefits commercial properties by making them more accessible, connecting businesses to higher quality amenities, and attracting more talent to areas where people want to work and live.

The U.S. government this year launched initiatives to bolster infrastructure enhancement initiatives. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into effect in July 2021, floods the economy with $550 billion that partially funds infrastructure improvements, such as roads and bridges for easier commutes, and marks the largest federal investment in public transit ever and passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. The act will work in tandem with President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which promises to add approximately 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade.

Effective and efficient space utilization continues to pose an issue for companies as they adjust to changing workspace use. With 87% of enterprises implementing hybrid work, according to CBRE, the trends in interior design and real estate are adjusting to fit the idea of flexibility – whatever that looks like for your company.

A hybrid office assumes employees will move more frequently between home and office. Therefore, a hybrid office should provide a seamless experience between working in the office and working elsewhere.

Ramzah Khan works with companies looking for guidance on developing hybrid and collaborative workplaces.

A studio manager at Ware Malcomb in Washington, DC, Khan offers perspectives in the Workplace Innovator Podcast episode “The Psychology Workplace Design and the Evolution of Employee Experience” on how companies can explore a holistic view of office design to create an employee experience where employees feel valued, heard, and supported.

The biggest trend she is seeing is that leaders are approaching workplace design from a people-oriented position as the idea of employee wellbeing takes on a new meaning.

Elements of an employee-focused hybrid office include:

  • A mix of collaborative and private spaces
  • Multipurpose areas employees can use depending on the work they’re doing
  • Furniture that’s easy to reconfigure
  • High-quality conference room technology
  • Technology that makes it easy for employees to find and reserve workspaces anywhere 

The way you physically plan your office space for when employees and clients are in the office can lead to greater productivity and improve the bottom line.  

Architectural Record discussed trends for innovative offices in the hybrid workspace and suggests paying attention to the type of materials you purchase to make the office space flexible. Flooring, for example, can be a key element in creating acoustics to aid, not detract, from work. Materials such as tiles with inherent acoustic properties or carpet with noise-reducing cushion can play a part in helping the functionality of a space filling multiple roles.

Another recommendation is to use the physical space design to give employees a feeling of empowerment. You can achieve this through unassigned desks, lounge-style seating in common areas rather than conference rooms, and rooms sectioned with flooring and furniture to create specific-use areas where employees can choose where they work based on the task. 

This strategic use of furniture and physical elements also play into the continued prevalence of social distancing policies. Physical considerations such as enhanced ventilation help with physical wellness, but more and more businesses also are finding the need to plan space in regard to emotional and mental benefits, as well. 

Learn more about the future of commercial real estate and hybrid work in our resource on managing change in the hybrid workplace.

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The Pros and Cons of 3 Types of Hybrid Work Models

From dress suits and cubicles to leisure wear and home offices, the business world looks different today than it did two years ago. What began as a mission for health safety snowballed into a corporate movement. It’s important we take the time to assess the pros and cons of the three types of work: the traditional in-office model, remote work model, and hybrid work model.

Companies and their employees need to understand the benefits, drawbacks, opportunities, and pitfalls associated with the different types of work as they decide which is best for them.

Benefits of working in the office

Before the coronavirus pandemic, most companies operated with an in-office work model. However, what was once the norm has quickly become a controversial subject. Regardless, in some areas, the in-office model remains successful.

Workers can more easily benefit from the organization’s culture, a factor that remains significant to job seekers and employees. 76% of the workforce feel culture plays a role in their professional success, as it directly impacts their well-being. Supportive and collaborative environments are better built when everyone is in the same proximity.

Despite the resounding voices of support, not all employees are pleased that companies switched to the remote work model. Some discovered it challenging to find work-life balance. Those without the convenience of a home office adapted by working from their couch or kitchen counter. When commuting to an office, there is an absolute separation between employees’ professional and personal lives. But without a defined ‘place of work,’ employees have no clear boundaries.

Arguments against returning to the office

While having a designated workspace and set hours are valuable, they have drawbacks. Set 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. working hours make it difficult for employees to set up personal appointments, as those require pre-approval and requested time off. Mothers who receive troublesome calls – mid-workday – regarding their children are also at a disadvantage. These are not the only inconveniences:

  • Money and time spent on commuting (Gas prices are at an all-time high)
  • Lack of privacy when completing individual time-sensitive projects
  • Recurring distractions that interfere with employees’ overall job success

Companies that disregard these concerns may land themselves in hot water. In June 2022, CEO Elon Musk emailed Tesla employees, stating they must return to the office or resign. Employees quickly responded with pushback, expressing that the mandate negatively reflects the company’s business.

After a taste of flexibility, most workers prefer a remote or hybrid work model. Companies not offering either will have access to a smaller talent pool.

Pros of the remote work model

Working remotely was a relatively new experience for employees. Only 30% of the workforce were remote pre-pandemic, compared to 81% of employees during its’ height. Post-pandemic, companies struggle to determine the best work model for the long-term. To maintain employee flexibility, do organizations keep the remote work model or adopt a hybrid work model?

Remote work eliminates employees from commuting, as well as unexpected tardiness. Factors such as oversleeping, traffic, or time spent getting coffee will no longer be a concern. Instead, employees can put this time towards work productivity and mental well-being. Organizations can offer their workforce:

  • Financial savings from less gas and on-the-go purchases
  • Less exposure to illnesses such as coronavirus
  • Ability to create a personalized working space

Additionally, remote work offers flexible hours, which can improve productivity. Employees can work at the time of day they individually perform the best. While 43% of adults describe themselves as morning people, one in three adults says they work better in the evening. Traditional hours may not be what is best for everyone.

Virtual hiring and employee burnout with remote work

Among “The Great Resignation,” 40% of employees searched for a new job. During a time companies were predominately remote-first, many had to rethink how to hire, onboard, and train new employees. 82% of employers post-pandemic use virtual interviews. However, job seekers have expressed concerns with this process:

  • 33% of job seekers feel they cannot convey their personalities in a virtual interview
  • More than 90% of employees encounter tech issues during virtual onboarding
  • New employees lack access to their hiring manager and helpful resources during online training

Like new hires’, active employees also struggle to get the information needed when learning new tasks. A Microsoft study showed that shifting to remote work hurt collaboration and communication within companies. Employees are less likely to interact virtually than in person. Pinging a co-worker appears more intrusive than walking up to their cubicle. As a result, relationship-building feels forced versus organic.

Benefits of the hybrid work model

hybrid workplace consists of both in-office employees and remote workers who work together as a distributed team. The benefits of hybrid work are many, for both employees and employers alike.

For employees, the biggest benefit of the hybrid work model is flexibility. Whether they work in-house, from home, or split their time between the two, a hybrid workplace supports them. It’s meant to bridge all gaps between different types of work, allowing a person to accomplish their job regardless of the setting.

This seamless working experience goes all the way down to the workspace level. The hybrid work model demands workspaces to be as flexible as the concept. Hotel deskshot desksbreakout spaces, and the like are all essential in a supportive hybrid workplace. Beyond keeping the concept functional, they further promote employees to work in the fashion that best fits their needs.

From an employer standpoint, hybrid work offers powerful optimization opportunities. For example, ratio desking allows companies to operate with fewer desks than total employees without depriving people of the space they need. In addition, portfolio consolidation can free up significant cash flow otherwise tied up in overhead.

Negatives to beware of in hybrid workspaces

There are still a few kinks in the hybrid work model that companies need to work through. While it’s a proven, reliable solution to distributed teams and workforces, some drawbacks add up to some clear-cut pitfalls:

  • More difficult to communicate in real-time, especially between distributed teams
  • Access to technology and applications may differ from office to home
  • Employees may find it difficult to adapt or develop new habits
  • Employees may feel alienated if not supported in their choice of work style
  • Hybrid requires more processes of control to allow for freedoms in works

Similar to the remote work model, a disadvantage of the hybrid work model is the lack of oversight. Companies give up a traditional sense of control over their employees. Managers must proactively help employees develop good habits and understand expectations. As discussed, social-emotional competency is vital for management, and good systems for communication are imperative.

The hybrid work model offers the best of both worlds

Simply put: because the benefits of the hybrid work model outweigh the potential negatives, the hybrid work model is a long-term prospect for today’s dynamic workforce:

  • Offers the best of both on-site and off-site accessibility for employees
  • Improves flexibility, agility, and optionality of the workplace
  • More effective use and utilization of spaces and workstations
  • Saved workplace and facility costs through more efficient use of space
  • Improved employee experience, which can influence and strengthen culture
  • Access to a broader talent pool when hiring or expanding

Companies might’ve adopted a hybrid work model out of necessity due to the pandemic, but it’s going to far outlast it as the new way to accommodate different types of work styles and everyone’s unique preferences. The hybrid model gives employees and employers the best of both worlds.

Make sure you choose a hybrid workplace model that puts your people first, then find the technology solutions to support it. iOFFICE + SpaceIQ gives companies the tools to connect their people, places, data, and assets.

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Top Hybrid Work Statistics to Help You Embrace the New Normal

Hybrid work continues to evolve as companies adopt new hybrid workplace models, and there are many lessons we can all learn along the way. What do employees want when it comes to hybrid work, and what can employees do to balance that with the need for better predictability and space management?

These hybrid work statistics offer some guidance.

Employee hybrid work statistics 

As you consider how to adjust your workplace, it’s important to assess how employees feel about their work environment. Ask about their preferences, where they are most productive, and what they need from you to do their best work.

Does hybrid work increase productivity?

One major concern of managers and C-suite occupiers is that employees will become less productive in the hybrid workplace. This antiquated view that being in the office equates to being productive can lead to harmful management styles, such as micromanaging. When adopting a hybrid work model, it’s important to allow for flexibility within the set parameters and framework, keep your team connected with the right workplace technology, and find ways to enhance trust among managers and employees to give employees greater autonomy and ownership over their work – even if they are completing the work from their couch instead of their cubicle.

  • 90% of employees say they were as productive or more productive working remotely versus working in the office (OwlLabs “2021 State of Remote Work).
  • 55% of employees are high performers when provided radical flexibility over where, when, and with whom they work, versus 36% of employees who work a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift in the office (Gartner, June 2022)

Hybrid work statistics by generation

Navigating the shift in workplace models among different generations takes finesse and more than a little planning. Each generation has unique motivators, wants, and needs. Check out some of the insights we’ve gathered below.

Employee engagement and retention statistics

In “The Great Resignation,” the fluidity of employment status among employees is leading to increased turnover and a dwindling workforce. Cash no longer is king when it comes to motivating, retaining, and developing workforce talent. Over the past two years, the pandemic’s upheaval shifted employees’ priorities and desires.

Beyond pay – which is still important – employees are looking for positive work cultures, initiatives that make them feel valued and noticed outside of their work, and elements that help them find purpose and connection to their work. Don’t solely offer pay increases. Offer additional incentives such as increased or unlimited PTO, flexible work hours, supportive mental health and well-being initiatives, and opportunities for employees to connect with their team in-person and virtually. Consider these statistics:

Mental health and well-being in the hybrid workplace

The pandemic brought concerns about employee mental health and well-being to the forefront, and they remain important in the hybrid workplace. Burnout is increasingly common as the lines between home and work have blurred. Employers need to be more mindful of setting boundaries, including establishing hours when employees are expected to respond and when they should disconnect, encouraging employees to use their vacation time, and training managers to look for signs of burnout.

  • 64% of organizations have begun offering new well-being benefits, such as counseling services and self-care tools (Gartner, May 2022)
  • 96% of HR leaders are more concerned about employees’ well-being today than they were before the pandemic (Gartner, “Future of Work Reinvented”)
  • PwC announced in May 2022 that they will invest $2.4 billion in new employee well-being initiatives, which include the ability to choose which workplace format works best for them individually (i.e. Work from home, in-office work, a digital nomad who works anywhere, or a combination) (Forbes, May 2022)
  • 65% of employees say the pandemic has made them rethink the place work should have in their lives (Gartner, “Future of Work Reinvented”)
  • 56% of women are more likely to prioritize their health and well-being over work than pre-pandemic (Microsoft “2022 Work Trend Index”)
  • 47% of employees reported they are more likely to put their family and personal life over work than pre-pandemic, and 53% say they are more likely to prioritize their health and well-being over work than pre-pandemic (Microsoft “2022 Work Trend Index”)

Implementing hybrid workplace solutions

To support new ways of working, employers are investing in new solutions that make it easier to manage office space and reservations and improve collaboration from anywhere.

Gartner forecasts that IT spending worldwide will grow 5.1% this year – which equals $4.5 trillion. The majority of that is predicted to be on cloud technology and other similar technologies designed to support remote and hybrid remote work.

Make sure you choose a hybrid workplace model that puts your people first, then find the technology solutions to support it.

iOFFICE + SpaceIQ gives companies the tools to connect their people, places, data, and assets.

Our comprehensive portfolio of workplace and asset management software allows workplace leaders to make data-driven decisions and improve interactions within the built environment. Explore our solutions for more insights on the future of hybrid work and how to manage it.