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Here’s what you need to know today:
- WeWork Demand Is Exceeding Pre-pandemic Levels
- Work Commutes Will Never Be The Same
- Companies May Need More Space In The Future
- Remote Working Saw Men Struggle With Collaborative Skills
- Remote Workers Adjusted Hours Due To Hangovers
- Are Fully Remote Arrangements The Best Options?
WeWork Demand Is Exceeding Pre-pandemic Levels
Marcelo Claure, Executive Chairman of WeWork, says that demand for the company’s locations has recovered as inquiries have started exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
After making this claim during an interview at the Bloomberg Businessweek virtual summit, a spokeswoman confirmed this comment in an email.
This news came soon after WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani faced criticism for claiming that “those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home” during a Wall Street Journal podcast.
Currently, WeWork is looking to go public by merging with special purpose acquisition company BowX Acquisition Corp. During its pitch, WeWork’s projections and financial calculations reflected talking points it made during its failed attempt to go public in 2019, leaving investors scratching their heads.
One of the biggest eyebrow-raising claims is how WeWork calculates profitability. However, the company has pushed back that its financials are misleading.
“With a new management team in place, WeWork spent the last year working diligently to improve the fundamentals of the business with a renewed commitment to ensuring our financial disclosures,” WeWork said in a statement to Bisnow in April.
Work Commutes Will Never Be The Same
Despite downsides of remote working being highlighted in the past year, one of the biggest perks was the lack of commute.
In fact, research from London Loves Business found that 60% of post-pandemic commuters said that a hybrid working arrangement would help reduce the stress of a daily commute.
So how do business leaders and managers help build more confidence in the commute for employees? For starters, leaders need to start communicating now as they create new policies and practices for post-pandemic arrangements.
One of the largest concerns in commuting is avoiding parking shortages and overcrowding when entering the building. This can be solved by providing flexible hours that help stagger entry times, or encourage using a bicycle to travel to work.
Although virtual meetings have become crucial to the workforce over the past year, the value of in-person meetings should not be overlooked. Moving forward, the future of the workplace will be a place that balances the convenience of virtual meetings, with in-person meetings needed for collaboration.
Still, it’s not a surprise that commutes have always been a nuisance to the work day. But now organizations have a chance to reevaluate how to improve this experience for their workers, and offer them alternative solutions so they can easily return to the workplace.
Companies May Need More Space In The Future
Hybrid work models are becoming a mainstay. The combination of both remote and in-office policies aims to accommodate various work styles and provide employees with the perks of both arrangements.
However, companies may be tempted to return to their pre-pandemic office strategies despite new needs for their employees. Instead, organizations need to take this time to apply the lessons from over the past year, and incorporate practices so workers can be better supported.
According to Rick D’Amato, design director of workplace at LPA Design Studios, companies will need a more fluid approach to their office arrangements.
“Giving employees the freedom to choose an optimal workspace for any given task results in immense user satisfaction,” said D’Amato. “This is an important lesson we’ve learned from the pandemic and it’s critical that companies take advantage of it.”
The return to the pre-pandemic office isn’t the only misstep companies are taking — D’Amato added that some businesses are even reducing their office footprint too quickly. In fact, he believes that companies adopting a hybrid work model will need to grow their shared spaces and common areas.
Because the office will become an environment geared towards collaboration, companies will need to listen to their employees about what they need from the workplace and make the necessary changes to create the ideal atmosphere for them.
Remote Working Saw Men Struggle With Collaborative Skills
A recent FlexJobs poll of over 2,100 people found one-quarter of men feel like their professional skills have been hindered due to the pandemic.
In comparison, only 17% of women feel that their professional skills have suffered and 13% feel that opportunities for a promotion have been impacted
The survey also found that men have had more trouble communicating and collaborating when working remotely than women have. However, both mostly agree that remote work policies could improve gender equality in the workplace.
Additionally, 39% of men said that they faced collaborative challenges compared to 30% of women, and 21% said their relationships with colleagues were difficult to manage.
On the other hand, women were more likely to be challenged by technology, with 30% of women saying this was an issue for them compared to 22% of men.
In-person work arrangements have long benefited men over women. Although remote working has been more ideal for female professionals, more men returning to the office than women has left some worried that they will be overlooked and further widen the gender pay gap.
Remote Workers Adjusted Hours Due To Hangovers
A new study by Alliance Virtual Offices has found that hangovers were among the top reasons for changes to remote working hours throughout the pandemic.
The study reviewed over 900 survey respondents and revealed that hangovers caused 26.3% of remote workers to change their work hours.
Additionally, the analysis found that, while priorities varied across remote workers, many of these professionals valued “being near nature” over “being near family.”
In addition to these preferences, the vast majority of professionals said they favored working from home over office time. In fact, when given the option to work from home, only 4% of workers chose the office.
Companies were also found to be making their own changes, with 87% of companies stating they would be adjusting their real estate strategies over the next year to accommodate more remote work policies.
Are Fully Remote Arrangements The Best Options?
Offices are reopening. This comes as no surprise, but discussions about how to approach work arrangements in the future continue to fervently buzz.
While some companies are ready to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, others are fully embracing the shift to remote work and letting staff continue operating with this policy.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this dilemma, before deep diving into the remote-only pool, it’s important for startup founders and CEOs to observe whether this is the best long-term business decision.
So where should they start? For one, founders should ask themselves how many offices they will have and how many employees they expect to come into the office at least one day each week.
Say there are 80% of employees coming into the office one day a week. What does that mean for the other 20%? Why are they able to work fully remote? Is it due to their job title or personal circumstances?
Also consider how often fully remote team members will be provided the opportunity to visit the company’s headquarters or other office sites.
Understanding what remote working means to your company will be crucial in this next step. If it is the best course of action for your startup, then find policies and practices that ensure in-person and remote employees get equal opportunities and recognition.