The world’s top remote work experts see the current balance of WFH and in-office work continuing for years. Enterprises are planning ahead.
Stanford University’s Nicholas Bloom has been tracking flexible work trends and their impact on factors like productivity since long before 2020. In a paper published this month, he shares some interesting data points. As of now, U.S. workers are spending approximately 25% of working days working remotely, but office occupancy has only bounced back 50%, while in CBDs, use of public transit has bounced back by about 60%, as compared to before the pandemic.
And rather than those office occupancy and public transit numbers continuing to stretch upward towards what they were in the Before Times, Bloom believes things are leveling out.
“My belief now, looking at the last six months of data, is the drop in work-from-home has ended, and going forwards, it will be flat for a while — before starting to rise,” Bloom told Business Insider.
In other words, remote work isn’t getting any more or less popular immediately; it’s a good time for HR and real estate leaders to take a hard look at their workspace strategy and start to budget and plan for the future.
“My belief now, looking at the
last six months of data, is the drop
in work-from-home has ended,
and going forwards, it will be flat
for a while — before starting to rise.”
Companies coming to Upflex right now are done fighting this reality. And the good news is, our picture of “work from home” has changed dramatically in the past three years. It no longer means laptopping from a sofa in pajama pants. Upflex bookings are increasing quarter over quarter, for on-demand hot desks and for meeting rooms, as employees decide they need a change of scenery, want to meet up with their coworkers, or just appreciate having bookable access to conveniently located professional workspace that gets them out of the house and gives them a fast, reliable internet connection to boot. Employers who want to foster this alternate take on WFH and — who well know there’s no use swimming against the tide with a return-to-office mandate — are ready to make sure their teams have:
- equitable access to high-quality, safe, connected, productivity-inducing and professional places to work (i.e. our global network of some of the best coworking and flex office space in the world) for employees,
- easy access to bookable-on-demand meeting rooms so they can get together and collaborate even in a remote-first workplace for employees,
- and for managers, that they have a data-driven way to track all that “third place” workspace usage, develop an flex office strategy that has staying power, and budget for the future.
They’re coming to Upflex for those things.
From Bloom’s paper, “The Evolution of Working From Home,” published by Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research:
“In the longer run, we predict the amount of working from home will continue to grow, primarily due to technological improvements and changing norms. In 10 to 20 years, we could see 30% to 40% of working days being done from home, continuing the long run trend of growing levels of working from home, which has roughly doubled every 15 years going back to the 1960s. The pandemic led to an additional one-off, five-fold jump, but also jumpstarted a surge in research and development into new hardware and software products to support working from home. Thus, we expect the rate of technological change in remote work friendly innovations to fuel a new phase of work from home adoption in the coming decades.”
You’ve heard it before but here are the experts saying it again: Remote work is here to stay. If your workplace hasn’t got a long-term strategy in place, a brainstorm meeting with an Upflex workspace strategy advisor is a good place to start.
Great charts from @biancoresearch showing
1) City transit use matches Kastle office use and SWAA WFH data.
2) They all show a 40% drop in office/transit use, matching 2 days WFH per week
3) WFH has been flat through 2023 – the return to office push seems to have died. pic.twitter.com/ysdSFe5SrS
— Nick Bloom (@I_Am_NickBloom) July 5, 2023