Working Remotely – But Not Always at Home

Today I had a great conversation with an old friend. We talked about working from home, and he pointed out something interesting. He’s mostly working from home, but he feels a need to go to the office some days. Pre-pandemic, he enjoyed working from home occasionally because it was peaceful and he wouldn’t be interrupted. Today, though, his children are doing virtual learning and his home is rarely quiet. He can do without his commute, but he still needs a space where he can focus. Currently, that’s his empty office building. He wishes there was a quiet place he could work closer to home.

I doubt that most companies will go back to requiring employees to be in the office five days a week. It’s clear that people can be productive working remotely. I also doubt that most employees will want to work at home five days a week. Some sort of separation between home and work is helpful for many of us. So where does that leave us? I think we’ll end up with a hybrid situation.

People will go to an office periodically when it makes sense—say, to meet with their team or clients. When people aren’t in the office, they’ll work remotely. Not necessarily from home, though. “Remotely” means outside the office. People will work from their community or neighborhood or somewhere else that works best for their life. I can see local coworking spaces becoming very popular. Large coworking spaces like WeWork will continue, too. And companies will begin contributing to the cost of employees using these spaces.

Historically, people had to go where the work was. Because of technology, that’s becoming unnecessary for more and more people. We’ll see a trend of people working away from the mothership in the communities and neighborhoods where they live. I’m just not sure when.