What Workers Want
The Permanent Impact of the Covid-Era Office
As the world gradually begins to reopen for in-person experiences after more than a year without, businesses are evaluating which aspects of the temporary switch to remote work should remain permanent.
From increased productivity and freedom from commutes, to feelings of isolation and a lack of cohesion among teams, working remotely elicits mixed reviews. That variation in worker preferences is exactly what employers are now tasked with incorporating into workplace policies.
Choice, above all, is what workers want, says Stanford University Professor of Economics Nicholas A. Bloom. While businesses scrambled to adjust to new work-from-home practices and technologies last year, it was familiar territory for Bloom, who has spent decades researching remote work and management practices. He has surveyed thousands of firms and individuals at corporations all over the world.
Discussions around how the workplace should function are rapidly shifting as businesses begin to think about the future. “If you look at the survey data, you see very clearly there’s a huge variety of preferences over how many days people want to work from home,” says Bloom. “For example, around 27% of people basically say they never want to work from home ever again, post-pandemic.”
Bloom joined Greylock general partner Sarah Guo on Greymatter’s Work From Anywhere podcast series to talk about the evolving workplace, what the data shows on both employee and management wellbeing, the allure of the hybrid-work model, and more.
As Bloom notes in the conversation, around two-thirds of firms right now are opting for a hybrid workplace, with employees working a few days per week from the office and the rest from home. This has its perks, as Bloom and Guo discuss, but brings its own challenges around diversity, management styles and promotion opportunities, along with the economic impact from changing office real estate needs.
“I think more and more, leaders are recognizing that the connectedness and creativity and growth problems are actually the ones that they’re going to have to deal with, not the productivity problems,” says Bloom, who also serves as Co-Director of the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
You can listen to the full podcast here, or by hitting the Play button on the embedded SoundCloud player below.