Trends in Returning to Office Work in 2021 & Beyond

Is working from home here to stay?

Updated on April 25, 2021

2020 rocked our world.

COVID-19 forced an unprecedented level of fear, confusion and ever-changing regulations on society without regard for professional commitments, family responsibilities and travel plans. Imgur

It's not all negative, though. COVID-19 gave many people more free time and relaxation than they've had in decades. People traded suits for pajamas, enjoyed increased flexibility with work and finally did that household project they planned on 5 years prior. Imgur

What's the Future of Office Work?

Now that it's 2021, many are wondering: what does the future of office work look like? We know that remote work is here to stay for many businesses, but what about the rest?

Studies show that when office closures first happened, people were happy to be at home. Now, many are itching to go back to offices. We think the answer lies somewhere in between. Imgur

Companies Shift Towards Supporting Work-Life Balance More

COVID-19 forced businesses and management to make a lot of hard decisions, but it also gave them a deeper window into the lives of their employees and the sense of "we're all human, and now we're all experiencing this nightmare together". Imgur Throughout 2020, many companies realized the need for more flexible working schedules, more paid-time off, mental health support and benefits supporting overall health, like gym memberships. Hopefully this move is here to stay long past COVID-19.

Extended Work From Home Policies

Many companies (and employees) are realizing that working from home has many benefits—less overhead costs, more flexibility, no commuting, more time with family, etc. Imgur According to FlexJobs large companies like Amazon, American Express and Shopify, among others, have extended their work from home policies through 2021, if not indefinitely!

Location-Based Pay or Value-Based?

Some companies are even changing the way they calculate salaries. The controversial topic is whether location-based pay or value-based pay makes the most sense for remote workers.

If your company switches to location-based pay and you moved from a big city like San Francisco to a city with a much lower cost of living during the pandemic, you could be looking at a pay cut.

Similarly, if you're company moves to value-based pay with the rise of remote work, you could be looking at a pay cut or a raise depending on your particular situation.

Hybrid Workplaces & Schedules

Everyone isn't equally excited about working from home. Some employees want to go back to the office, at least part of the time. Imgur Companies like Microsoft and Spotify are giving employees a choice on exactly how to work. Work from home, work from the office or do a mix of both!

The PwC report, It's Time to Reimagine Where and How Work Will Get Done sheds light on the differences between how employers and employees envision the "new normal" of office work and hybrid working. Imgur

  • Fifty-five percent of employees want to work from home at least 3 days per week while 68% of execs think employees should be in the office at least 3 days per week.
  • Sixty-one percent of execs anticipate consolidating "at least one premier business district location" in the next 12 months.
  • In relation to moving to a hybrid schedule, 32% of US companies surveys said "Going with the flow. Business performance is not suffering. We'll likely increase the level of remote work".

Hyperlocal Coworking With Added Perks

The pandemic forced online workers to start working from home, but after a year of a "temporary solution" some realize it's not as easy to focus as the office. Imgur Freelance workers and business owners, along with businesses who don't need the office space of previous years, will likely resort to hyperlocal coworking spaces.

Coworking spaces give you the best of both worlds. Find one by your house and it cuts down on commute times, keeps you closer to your kids and let's you decide when to go "in" to the office while ensuring you have a professional workspace to focus. Imgur With the rise of remote work and businesses consolidating office space, it's the perfect time for coworking spaces to really shine. In the near future, we'll likely see more coworking spaces like Pillar Coworking in Lafayette, CA.

Pillar has multiple membership options and on-site childcare, making it an irresistible option for the parents struggling to get work done with children at home. Imgur

The Community Benefit of Coworking

One of the top benefits of coworking vs working from home is the sense of community. You get to see new and familiar faces regularly, network and enjoy a vibrant atmosphere with other working professionals.

"Hoteling" for Offices: defines hoteling as, "Hoteling involves pre-booking and checking in to a concierge to access a space, much like at an actual hotel." Imgur Hoteling is different from the traditional "hot desking" (where you walk into a coworking space and choose a spot on a first-come, first served basis) because you must reserve your specific desk or conference room ahead of time.

Some businesses will turn to hoteling to ensure employees have a proper workspace that they're comfortable going to when they truly need to. Imgur They may use hoteling in their own office space, effectively turning their it into a co-working space without fixed desks where employees work from home or reserve a desk at the office. Or, they may allow employees a budget for reserving desks in existing co-working/hoteling spaces.

Only time will tell how hoteling will morph but it wouldn't be surprising for companies to go in together on shared office space that supports their respective employees only when they need it.

Four-Day Work Week

In a bid to improve work-life balance even further, the four-day work week may actually become a long-standing reality for many workers. Spain is implementing a national test of the four-day work week to assess its benefits and drawbacks. Imgur Select companies across the globe have been experimenting with four-day work weeks—some for years! Buffer tested the shorter work week for one month and the results were so positive, they're continuing "for the forseeable future".


Only time will tell how the future of office work will look.

Employers need to remember to stay flexible and open-minded, as well as keeping an eye on performance as we move through 2021 and beyond. Employees need to continue being transparent about what's working for them and patient with their employers. After all, we're all in this together!

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