Hybrid Work is Here to Stay

Trends / Realness
Reya Sehgal
Jul 1, 2022
More than two years into the COVID‑19 pandemic, knowledge workers continue to live in a limbo‑like work state, unsure of whether they are expected in‑office full‑time, or if remote life is here for good. Based on changing company policies at some of the country’s largest employers, it seems like a hybrid of office time and WFH is the new normal.

VisualGPS survey respondents are increasingly confident that hybrid, flexible work with continued remote opportunities is the most preferred model. Not only do 67% of American workers say that they are more productive when they work from home, 73% believe that working from home allows for a better work/life balance. In fact, 60% believe that over the next year, hybrid or remote work will become more normal than working full‑time in an office. And Getty Images customers are following suit—while searches for ‘office’ (+27%) and ‘remote work’ (+22%) have been steadily increasing, search terms related to ‘hybrid work’ (+1408%) have seen a rapid ascent.

How can visuals turn this nebulous work structure into something more relatable and appealing?

Highlight inclusion and belonging
For many, office dynamics can foster social exclusion, which is often felt most intensely by minority groups and working parents. Research shows that Black and Latinx knowledge workers are more likely to prefer hybrid or remote work than their white colleagues—partially because they have felt a stronger sense of belonging—and LGBQ+ and non‑binary employees have stronger preferences for hybrid work than their cis‑hetero peers.1 Employees with disabilities are 11% more likely to choose hybrid work over in‑person work than employees without disabilities, partially because offices can be ableist settings.2 And for working mothers, going into the office can cause an optical dilemma regarding their commitments and responsibilities, while working remotely allows for greater flexibility. After all, when a job is largely a means to an end, a professional social life may be less appealing than the “life” part of the work/life balance. However, showing employees in supportive environments—such as BIPOC‑focused employee resource groups—can turn visions of employee diversity into more accurate depictions of support, connection, and belonging.
Show the realities of the office today
As workers trickle back to their desks in flexible work environments, offices are not nearly as full as they may have been pre‑pandemic. More than 20% of office spaces in major cities like San Francisco remain vacant, and even those office spaces that are currently leased are far from full occupancy.3 For those who have chosen to return to the office, desks around them may remain empty, and they still have to hop onto Zoom for meetings with their remote colleagues. Office design itself is undergoing a shift, honoring the fact that employees are split on what they are looking for in a work environment: spaces of privacy vs. the open plan offices that became so popular in the 2010s.4 Opting for office visuals that show sparsely populated spaces, videoconferences, private workspaces, and less lived‑in work environments speaks more truth to the office culture of today and tomorrow.
Emphasize connection and collaboration
Despite the fact that working remotely continues to be a preference for many, more than 70% of employees say that they miss the social interaction and connection that comes with working from an office. As managers and executive teams build policies to codify the hybrid work structure, they may opt to gather employees for specific tasks that require collaboration, or for social experiences—such as team meals—that can foster a sense of company culture and suggest the perks of in‑office time, thereby convincing employees who are hesitant to brave the commute after years of working from home.5 Because 49% of workers say that collaboration is easier in an office environment, especially across lines of difference, more than half of companies are piloting new spaces that can turn workspaces into social hubs and spaces for collaboration.6 Focusing in‑office visuals on times where employees are working together, or even enjoying lunch with colleagues, offers a reminder of the serendipity and potential of office life.
Works cited
[1] A Two‑Year, 50‑Million‑Person Experiment in Changing How We Work (New York Times); Hybrid Work: Making it fit with your diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy (McKinsey)
[2] Hybrid work (McKinsey)
[3] Office Vacancy Rate in San Francisco Hits a Pandemic High (SocketSite)
[4] The Hybrid Future of Work (Gensler)
[5] The Rules for Hybrid Work Were Always Made Up (New York Times)
[6] The Hybrid Future of Work (Gensler); Kickstart Your Return to the Office (Steelcase)
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