37% of offices will be empty

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I recently asked a team of our advanced analysts to establish an over / under the number of US employees not return to the office full time in the future.

Here are some key facts I learned from them. There are 125 million full-time jobs in America. Of these, 50% – or around 60 million – say their current work can be done remotely from their homes. We interviewed a representative sample.

The research design included organizations ranging from accounting firms where all employees can work from home (WFH) to construction companies where 10% of employees are behind the scenes of the company and can also work remotely. The sample includes all people in any type of organization who feel they can do their work from home.

Of these 60 million potential WFH employees, 30% said they would prefer “never” to come to the office during the week. Ten percent (10%) said they preferred to work the five days in the office. The middle 60% want a mix one to four days a week. The most common preference was to spend two to three days in the office per week.

When we asked ‘never’ and ‘mixed’ why they wanted to be home, they said it 1) eliminates my travel, 2) improves my overall well-being, and 3) provides flexibility to balance needs. family or other obligations.

In the combination of these three requirements is a very powerful force of human nature – one that will not accept the traditional routine of the office in the future.

The research question aimed to predict the percentage of people who plan to work from home in 2022 and how many of their desks, offices and cubicles will be empty in the future.

Our over / under is 37% empty offices.

When the pandemic subsides and something close to “normal” returns, we conclude that there will be a 37% reduction in in-person days worked per week for those 60 million employees who can work from home. In other words, a large office building in a large city where all office work can be done remotely – in any given week – will have 37% less offices occupied than the same week in 2019.

As a CEO, I believe there is more human energy and spirited collaboration to be found for employees in the office than just being at home alone. The right culture in person creates superior individual development and results in team success as well as innovation and client success. This includes fewer mistakes and missed opportunities.

To CEOs, I would advise not order them to enter. COVID-19 has structurally changed the relationship of the national workforce to work. There’s a new will of the workplace.

We have to find a better way to reconcile work and life. I don’t think we have a choice. We already know that most stars will prioritize wellness above everything else. The way we experience life matters more than just 24 months ago.

The right culture in person creates superior individual development and results in team success as well as innovation and client success. This includes fewer mistakes and missed opportunities.

Be careful when trying to create rules and policies. The most effective solutions will be figuring out what works best for each team member. Clear goals and short zoom-based weekly coaching will become more important than ever. This is a good thing because 50% of the employees in the world don’t know what is expected of them anyway.

If the new mix of life and work is managed in a big way, your culture of teams and managers will remain dedicated to your organization instead of becoming a culture of freelancers and concert workers.

You can bet on it.

Authors)

Jim Clifton is President and CEO of Gallup.

Ben Wigert is Director of Research and Strategy, Workplace Management, at Gallup.


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