I'm the founder of FutureWork IQ where I spend my time assisting businesses to design digital workplaces or “offices in the cloud.” These environments enable companies to allow flexible and remote working for their teams. I also teach the digital literacy, fluency, communication and collaboration skills needed to work in these modern technology-rich workplaces.

Take a look at the shift in sentiment from October 2021 to January 2022

Do not underestimate the impact of this major shift!

For those companies that do this well, ie ensuring that the Digital HQ becomes the default HQ in order to prevent a two-tier workplace from developing, the next logical step will be location independence.

Why do I say this?

Well when the old physical office loses its HQ status and just becomes another physical place to work from on a particular day, should you choose to, the next question will be “Why do we need a physical office?”

Take Automattic as an example, they had a beautiful office in the Bay Area, but in 2017, Matt Mullenweg made the decision to close it. Here was his observation:

“We got an office there about six or seven years ago, pretty good lease, but nobody goes in it. Five people go in it and it’s 15,000 square feet. They get like 3,000 square feet each. … There are as many gaming tables as there are people.”

The company behind WordPress is closing its gorgeous San Francisco office because its employees never show up

And here is the observation of one of those employees, Michelle Langston, that did go into the office for awhile:

“A couple of years ago, I was going at least once a week, but as time went on I stopped going as much, you just get used to working from home.

“We know that it’s not an expectation to come to an office, because everybody is working remotely. Nobody expects you to have to show up at this place at this time every day; the expectation is you can work from wherever you are.”

Inc Africa Remote roundup

When the Digital HQ is the default HQ the “expectation is you can work from wherever you are.”

HR misses the impact of hybrid working

In addition to the above there is also this data point.

Hybrid Data
State of Employee Engagement Q3 2021

There is so much to say about this data. But let’s focus on the employee perspective that remote work causes the least work exhaustion.

The same cannot be said for hybrid working however, as you can see from the graph.

There are no surprises here.

Hybrid working is the most difficult of the three (in-person, hybrid, remote) to engage in and manage. A big reason for this is, unchecked, hybrid workplaces tend to devolve into two-tier workplaces, UNLESS you are very intentional, at a leadership level, to ensure this does not happen.

How do you consistently translate the in-office communication flows to those not physically present on a given day? How do you successfully include them in the daily in-person happenings which they need to be aware of?

There are ways to do this of course, but it adds a layer of complexity to any typical day and it is exhausting.

My advice? If you are a knowledge based business just do the work needed to become a fully distributed, location independent team. It will pay off handsomely.