Employee Autonomy in the era of Flexible Work - November 2023 Newsletter

This month’s newsletter includes the best articles from November 2023 on employee autonomy, hybrid work plans, commercial real estate shortages, economy predictions and the latest research on occupancy. 

We hope this content is helpful as you navigate your return to the office plans and flexible work.

Return-to-Office Plans Don’t Have to Undermine Employee Autonomy by Kimberly Shells and Caitlin Duffy (Harvard Business Review)

As we figure out the role that the office plays in the workweek, there is an abundance of data on what return to office can mean for worker fatigue, retention and performance. This article shares good research on how all stakeholders are viewing the future.

Highlight include:

  • An October 2023 Gartner survey of 70 HR leaders found that 63% of organizations had increased their expectations for employees working onsite in the past year.
  • Gartner research has found that autonomy not only reduces workers’ fatigue by 1.9 times, it also makes them 2.3 times more likely to stay with the organization.
  • Leading Organizations are employing strategies like "Empowering managers and teams to co-create flexible working patterns" instead of mandating a one-size-fits-all return-to-office schedule for all employees.
  • In Gartner’s October 2022 survey of 351 Gen Z employees, 65% said whether or not they can work flexibly would impact whether they stay at their organization, and 53% cited it as a reason they were looking for a new job. Across all generations, work-life balance currently ranks as the third most important attribute employees are looking for in a job.


Embracing Flexibility: How These Hybrid Workplaces Are Redefining The Employee Experience by Lucas Dean (Built In Chicago)

This article shares interviews and insights from three Chicago area companies on how they embracing flexible work and adopting policies for hybrid teams in the office and at home.

Highlights include:

  • Keeper: Hybrid work at Keeper is unique to each individual and team. We foster a work model designed to maximize each team member’s development and performance. This includes a hybrid structure covering in-office, work-from-home and remote work, which is curated for each team member based on their geographic location and role. Employees local to a Keeper office are free to come into the office and collaborate with the other employees, while individual teams can designate a time to meet and collaborate in person, as needed.
  • LogicGate: Regular touch-points with company executive leadership have also played a vital role in ensuring hybrid work is successful at LogicGate. We provide employees with the information they need and opportunities to connect across the organization through regularly scheduled executive team coffee chats, monthly all-hands meetings and regular team communications.
  • Box: Our number one best practice: design your day with intention. Your workplace is a product like any other; you need to identify why you choose to use it, such as relationship building, focus time and so on. Once you find your why, design your work week around it to get the most out of each day. 


The looming office space real estate shortage. Yes, shortage by Eric Rosenbaum (CNBC) 

This article takes a look at the shrinking corporate real estate market and shares its thoughts on why Class A space will be the most valuable going forward.

Highlights include: 

  • The more office real estate that disappears – an estimate recently given to CNBC by the CEO of major bondholder TCW Group forecasts up to one-third of office real estate still to be wiped out – the more the major players in the market will be vying for the top tier of Class A commercial space.
  • As office occupiers scrutinize their footprints more carefully, and in the months ahead leases that were executed before the pandemic continue to approach expiration, newly constructed buildings aged 0-3 years are proving to be the winners.
  • New constructed buildings have attracted over 175 million square feet of net new occupancy since the beginning of 2020, an average of 12.7 million square feet per quarter. By comparison, the quarterly average from 2011-2019 for similar properties was 11.7 million square feet. From 2008-2010, during the Great Recession, the quarterly average was 13.6 million square feet.


Stocks may crash 30%, a recession looks imminent, and commercial real estate is a bubble about to burst, market prophet says. Here are Gary Shilling's 8 best quotes from a new interview By Theron Mohamed (Business Insider)

There are a lot of thoughts and predictions on where the economy is headed and here is one that is bearish on the stock market, commercial real estate and possibility of a recession. It's important to take in all sides as you prepare for the next 12-24 months.

Quotes from Shilling include:

  • "I've been of the opinion that stocks would decline about 30% to 40%, peak to trough. You'd have a further decline of about 30% from here to get to that 40% overall decline." (Shilling's forecast suggests the S&P 500 could fall to around 2,900 points or its lowest level since the pandemic.)
  • We probably do have a recession coming shortly, if we're not already in it — nobody rings the bell. If you look at many of the major indicators that are reliably forerunners of recessions, when you look at that combination of things, it's pretty hard to escape a recession." (Shilling pointed to the inverted yield curve, leading economic indicators, and the Fed's crusade against inflation as some of the key reasons he expects a recession.)
  • I think the biggest bubble right now is commercial real estate. This isn't of the magnitude of the subprime-mortgage bonanza, but I think it is a bubble which is beginning to crack." (Shilling pointed to not just office buildings, where occupancy has been hit by the remote-working boom, but also hotels and shopping malls that have been struggling for a while.)


Employees now spend an average of 2 days in office, report says by Carolyn Crist (HR Dive)

As we continue with hybrid work, there is more and more data being captured on occupancy and employee sentiment. This article has a few different survey resources with competing findings. The one similarity is that employees desire flexibility.

Highlights include:

  • Hybrid work schedules are growing worldwide, with employees in the U.S. spending an average of 2 days per week in the office. Globally, employees spend 3.1 days in the office, with attendance peaking on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, according to a Nov. 14 report from JLL, a global commercial real estate and investment management company.
  • About two-thirds of employees now work in the office full time, according to a recent Owl Labs report, up from 41% in 2022. However, only 22% said a full-time in-office schedule was their preferred working arrangement, and 58% said they were “coffee badging,” or only going to the office for a few hours to show their face.
  • Despite the ongoing importance of workplace schedule flexibility, most employees say they’re excluded from discussions about hybrid work and return-to-office mandates, according to Eagle Hill survey. At the same time, nearly half said they’d consider leaving their job if their company reduced their flexibility. 


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