“I think you’ll see many employees that will continue to work from home, you’ll have many that will get back to the office and then you’ll have some that’ll do a little bit of both.”

– Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco Systems

The hybrid office model is a model of work where employees can decide how, where and when they work best. They can choose to work from home or another remote workspace, from the office, or alternate between the two.

Needless to say, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the number of organisations looking to move towards a Remote-First or hybrid way of working.

Before COVID-19

According to several reports, including McKinsey (2020), Bruce Daisley (2020) and the ONS (2020), work and life had distinct boundaries before the COVID-19 pandemic. Fewer than 5.1% of people worked from a remote workspace in 2019, and only 12% worked part of the week at home.

We’ve enjoyed unprecedented innovations in technology and new tools, but these didn’t change the way we worked. Companies competed for prime office space in urban centres and started to focus on solutions around collaboration. The office was seen as the key to productivity, culture and attracting top talent.

Dateline: July 2020

Now, this has all changed. According to best-selling author and technology leader Bruce Daisley, “We’ve had 15 years’ worth of change in 12 weeks” as the pandemic has acted as an accelerant – “getting us to where we would go eventually.” Work and life are now well and truly integrated.

Some organisations are looking at getting rid of offices, choosing instead to opt for collaborative hubs where they can come together occasionally as a team.

A fascinating article in the Spectator (June 2020) beautifully puts the dawning realisation that many businesses have had around effective work not needing to centre around the idea of a fixed office: a large part of the busyness of business is driven by presenteeism, rather than the creation of value.

Consequently, many people have realised that working isn’t stressful. Work is worthwhile; it’s just the accompanying “worthless bustle” that which isn’t.

What’s happening out there?

Moving away from supposition, many companies have announced major changes to their ways of working:

  • Half of Facebook employees will work remotely within 10 years
  • Twitter and BT call centres have said that employees can choose to work remotely permanently
  • Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said the bank would need “much less real estate” in the future. About 90% of Morgan Stanley’s employees have been working from home during the pandemic.
  • Nationwide, which has gone to 98% work from home during Covid-19, announced a permanent transition to a hybrid office model, with working-from-office in four main corporate campuses and working-from-home in most other locations.

How are you handling the move to Remote-First or hybrid working? Are you confused about your options and how to make the best decision for your workforce?

In the Autumn I’ll be running a (remote!) workshop to help businesses create a plan for the future of their work. If you’d like to secure your place, please contact me on laura@culturechameleon.co.uk.