JLL: Hybrid Work Here to Stay

JLL: Hybrid Work Here to Stay
Work: Employees at the Atlanta office of Jones Lang LaSalle.

As much as we all love the ability to throw a load of socks in the washer in between Zoom calls or hide behind a screen in last night’s pajamas, employers don’t seem to have the same attitude towards remote work as when Covid-19 first made it the norm. The demand for a return to the office is rising, resulting in a new phenomenon: the hybrid work model.

According to a recent report published by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., “Is Hybrid Really Working?,” workplace attendance has become the most contentious issue between employers and employees. 

Employers are stating that being fully remote is not acceptable anymore, with 87% of those polled encouraging their workers to come into the office at least some of the time and 33% implementing some form of compulsory attendance. 

“I do think that the physical workplace enables a lot of positives,” said Kerin Van Andel, an executive vice president and workplace strategy lead at JLL. “I think it allows for face-to-face collaboration. I think it allows for fostering team cohesion.”

On the other hand, although the number of days in the office is increasing, employees are adamant about wanting to maintain some of the flexibility that comes with working remotely.

This has resulted in the mainstream adoption of the hybrid work model, where 3.1 was found to be the average number of days in the office, slightly above the employee preference of 2.8 days, according to JLL’s report. 

“I think this new approach is more humane,” Sonnet Hui, general manager and vice president at Project Management Advisors Inc., said. “And I actually think it drives more flexibility because it treats people like adults. It allows them to make decisions on their own and balance what they need to do in the work environment, as well as in their own personal lives.”

Flight to quality

But what does the rise of hybrid workplaces mean for the future of office buildings? Will the demand stay the same?

“The demand for office space is undergoing shifts,” Van Andel said. “Offices will likely still remain an essential need as physical space for collaboration, innovation and employee engagement.”

However, hybrid work “opens the door for what we like to call right-sizing your portfolio,” she said. “I don’t like to call it downsizing, or even growing in some cases, because I think it is all about right-sizing to what your unique hybrid strategy is.” 

A major current discussion trend is the notion of “flight to quality,” a term that describes the tendency of investors to move their money out of riskier asset classes and into asset classes seen as more stable during times of uncertainty. 

While work model expectations vary per industry and the concept of work is ever evolving, remote work poses a major threat to the demand for office space. In response, some companies are relocating to nicer buildings in order to entice their employees to come to the office, as opposed to requiring in-office attendance.

“We’re seeing a ladder effect,” Van Andel said. “People who are in class C (office space) moving to class B. People in class B moving to class A. And I think that really has to do with amenities.”

“Post-Covid, people were really questioning the concept of work and what does productivity really mean and how do you sustain it?” said Hui. “I think there’s a lot of healthy dialogue coming out of this.”

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