As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many companies have adopted a hybrid work model, allowing employees to work from home for part of the week and in the office for part of the week. This trend has shown little sign of fading, as office occupancy rates have stalled around half of pre-pandemic levels.

According to a recent survey by Scoop Technologies, a software firm that monitors workplace strategies, about 58% of companies allow employees to work a portion of their week from home. The number of companies requiring employees to be in the office full-time has declined to 42% from 49% three months ago. Employees at companies with hybrid strategies work an average of 2.5 days a week in the office.

This trend is frustrating for some city officials concerned about the impact of empty offices on local businesses and tax revenue. In New York City, for example, each employee working at home rather than going into the office costs city businesses about $4,600 in sales annually.

Some city officials are experimenting with new policies to lure back workers. Last week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced tax incentives for office-building owners to upgrade buildings constructed before 2000, hoping that a more modern workplace would boost occupancy.

However, as long as unemployment remains low, workers have the leverage to entrench hybrid work policies. "Employees are saying we are going to push hard against being required to be in the office five days a week," Scoop's chief executive and co-founder Robert Sadow told The Wall Street Journal. "Most companies in the current labor market have been reluctant to push [back] that hard."

Whether hybrid work will become the permanent norm remains to be seen, but for now, it is clear that it is here to stay.

Key Points

  • Hybrid work is a win-win for both employees and employers. Employees can save time and money on commuting and have more flexibility to manage their work-life balance. Employers can benefit from reduced office space costs and attract and retain top talent by offering a hybrid work option.
  • The future of work is hybrid. As more and more companies adopt hybrid work models, this trend will likely continue to grow. This will significantly impact cities and businesses, as they will need to adapt to the new reality of a hybrid workforce.
  • Several challenges need to be addressed to make hybrid work successful. These include ensuring that employees have the right tools and technology to work from home effectively and creating a culture of trust and collaboration between employees who work in the office and those who work from home.

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