Like the automobile did to the horse and buggy industry, the traditional five-day work week, a hallmark of the industrial era, is facing extinction. In its place, the hybrid work model continues to gain prominence, reshaping the way we view work, productivity, and work-life balance.
Looking back, it’s abundantly clear that the COVID-19 pandemic fueled this massive shift, highlighting the need for flexibility in the modern workplace, and showing what few critics had pointed out for years—the work format we have come to know for decades was a relic.
There will be resistance to the change as there always is, however, several companies are embracing it. According to a LinkedIn survey, 18% of American professionals are working in a hybrid model. Technology is the leading reason why the hybrid model is effective.
Employees working in the office full-time has decreased by 42% in the second quarter of this year which is down nearly 50% from the first quarter of 2023, according to The Flex Report.
“It certainly looks like hybrid is gaining share,” Robert Sadow, CEO and co-founder of Scoop Technologies told TIME Magazine. “There’s an adoption cycle like any other technology—you have early adopters and laggards.”
According to the report, 51% of companies are requiring three days of in-office work with 39% requiring just two days in the office. To the dread of commercial real estate agents, that’s 90% of those operating that require just half a week of being in the office. Among some of the noteworthy companies using the hybrid model include Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, and many others.
The report shows the most flexible industries are tech, media and entertainment, insurance, professional and financial services. The least accompanying industries are restaurants, hospitality, education, retail, and manufacturing. Some of those are of no surprise due to the requirement of being customer facing.
Between high-speed internet, server sharing, Zoom (who coincidentally required employees to return to work part of the week), etc. With a laptop and a smartphone, there’s no longer a reason for employees to be tied to their desk and have to deal with office distractions, the corporate politics, or waste their resources with long commutes.
With millennials valuing work-life balance much more than prior generations, the hybrid model is ideal. Employees can spend more time with family, pursue personal interests, job satisfaction, and have better overall mental health all while companies retain talent to avoid high turnover, and financially benefit by cutting costs on large unused office space. This is where coworking companies present themselves as the optimal choice.
But this is a debate that will not go gentle into that goodnight. The old guard will resist because it threatens their jobs and takes them out of their comfort zone. A quote from the 2011 film Moneyball comes to mind for such gatekeeping the progressive shift in the workforce.
“I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall — he always gets bloody. Always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds, it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods. It’s threatening their jobs. It’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people who are holding the reins — have their hands on the switch — they go batshit crazy.
In the near future, the traditional work week will be viewed in the same way we see pagers. Companies need to accept and embrace the change. Celebrate the demise and leverage the shift to make your company more attractive to those who covet flexibility and efficiency.