Choose Your Own Adventure: How Hybrid Work is Transforming Commercial Real Estate

October 18, 2021 3 Minute Read

Choose Your Own Adventure: How Hybrid Work is Transforming Commercial Real Estate

After a large-scale experiment in virtual work due to the pandemic, the traditional boundaries of where work is performed are being redefined.

Employees want the flexibility to work virtually at least part of the time, according to CBRE research. But most also want to work in an office for part of the week, too. And companies want their employees to remain productive and connected to one another. For some organizations, this will mean a full return to the office; others will give employees latitude to find the right balance of work in and outside the office.

The need to balance employee flexibility and organizational productivity has led companies to explore hybrid work models, which enable employees to work from the office or virtually. Their approach involves rethinking how, when and where we work.

“It is vital for each company to define what hybrid work means for their organization and set the agenda for their employees to ensure they have time together in person,” says Lenny Beaudoin, Executive Managing Director of the CBRE Workplace Design group. “We call this approach ‘hybrid work with guardrails’ and it’s being pursued by the majority of larger companies.”

Here, from CBRE’s latest report, are 4 ways hybrid work is transforming the world of commercial real estate.

1. Hybrid work isn’t new, but it’s now normal.

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of workplace flexibility, demonstrating that many people can be productive outside the office. Work now includes a multitude of digital-first tasks, such as writing emails and creating spreadsheets, which can be accomplished virtually and often were prior to COVID-19. Hybrid work is consequently something many already engaged in to varying degrees before the pandemic.

2. Hybrid work will require a hybrid workplace.

With employees viewing the office as a place for collaboration and meaningful employee connection, the role of the workplace is shifting towards a more intentional work setting defined by its ability to bring people and teams together. This shift has marked implications for office design, planning, and workplace equity—balancing the in-office and virtual employee experiences.


3. Business are confronting challenges in adopting hybrid work.

A central challenge with hybrid work is workplace equity—ensuring employees who work virtually are visible, engaged and offered the same opportunities as their counterparts in the physical office. Another big challenge is culture – a hybrid workplace can lead to a disconnected workplace where it can be tough to nurture connections and collaboration between employees.

4. Hybrid work will lead to more consumer-oriented offices.

In this next normal, organizations will need to create differentiated offices where employees want to work. This will lead to more consumer-oriented approaches to the workplace where employers design their office around the needs of their workforce.

Successful adoption of hybrid work involves understanding the unique needs of the company and workforce before prescribing workplace and employee policy strategies. The below framework, which can be found in the new report, helps decision-makers take a methodological approach to defining hybrid work in the context of the organization:

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