Half of young workers plan to keep working from home—here’s what “offices” may look like for these next gen remote employees…
There is no question that COVID accelerated the transition to remote work for many employees—for the long-term. We recently told you that over half (55%) of 20-38-year-olds plan to continue working from home post-COVID. Specifically, 37% of Millennials plan to continue working from home part-time post-COVID, while 27% are planning to continue to work from home full-time post-COVID. The desire to have the ability to work from home is clearly strong: According to a recent survey from anonymous professional network Blind, 64% of employees surveyed say they would rather work permanently from home than take a $30K salary raise, and some are even quitting their jobs to find positions that allow them to work remotely 100% of the time—from whatever location they desire. In response, plenty of major companies like Spotify and Facebook have already adjusted their workplaces to either going full-time or part-time remote—or giving their workers the flexibility to come in whenever they want.
While our data does show that many still plan on returning to the office, the threat of the Delta variant is also causing disruptions in some office-return plans, and remote work might be a reality for many for even longer than planned. Companies offering flexible and hybrid work schedules to accommodate every type of young employee and their comfort levels wil alsol set a precedent for those who come after them. Meanwhile, workplaces are already starting to transform in the wake of the remote worker wave. From offering new amenities for flexible workers to completely reimagined workspaces for those working from home (or on the road) the traditional office is being left behind in many ways. Here are four ways the future of offices and workspaces are being reinvented for Gen Z and Millennials post-COVID:
No, they’re not just for tech bros and creatives at Microsoft’s treehouse or Shutterstock’s birds-eye perch at the Empire State Building. With more employers and employees embracing remote work, some companies are building outdoor work spaces to spark workers’ creativity post-pandemic. Global real estate giant Related Companies just finished working on a project known as Yard Work, a 7-acre outdoor meeting and workspace at Hudson Yards (which is the home base of companies like WarnerMedia, SAP and L’Oréal USA) in Manhattan—the best part being custom accommodations like swing set-style seating and sound-buffered work pods. According to their site, booking for Yard Work began last month and interested tenants of Hudson Yards can book through November. McKinney is also prepping an outdoor space with two decks equipped with new technology, and Boston-based agency Proverb says they’ve transformed one of their clients’ rooftops into an area for hosting team-building exercises and entertaining clients. Meanwhile, over in the U.K., they’re also experimenting with more institutional outdoor spaces as department store John Lewis and Waitrose supermarkets plan on converting retail locations into as many as 10,000 residential units over the next decade. Still, constructing an outdoor workplace isn’t accessible for all companies; what is becoming important is finding ways to promote workers’ creativity while limiting feelings of burnout. YPulse’s employment and career goals behavioral report shows that just 40% of Millennial employees are looking forward to going back to the workplace, and revamped workspaces could be exactly what they need. According to Related Companies president Philippe Visser: “Public spaces inspire people every day, and inspire them to do their best work. People have been locked up during COVID and are starved for human interaction. This is literally a breath of fresh air.”
“Third Workplaces” & Hybrid-Working Models
For those who don’t necessarily want to work in a traditional office but also need to get out of the house to focus, “third workplaces” are growing in popularity. They are popping up everywhere from hotels to coffee shops to restaurants, and there’s even rentable spaces through WeWork that let workers clock in on their own time. Some restaurants are incorporating office-like features to create a welcoming work environment, and one worker noted that for just $25/day they were able to grab a table in a covered outdoor dining area with high-speed WiFi, outlets, and free coffee. Some companies are being designed specifically to accommodate the in-between workers: International company Flown, which launched in March, is like “Airbnb for teleworkers,” and individuals or those in teams can book time at one of their remote work-ready properties located in the U.K., Spain, or Portugal. The company also offers virtual co-working sessions with other Flown users if people crave some company or human interaction while working remotely. Meanwhile, some employers are actually experimenting with hybrid-working models by partnering with these “third workplaces” and local businesses directly: Salesforce consulting partner and app development firm Traction is “in talks” with bike shops, cafe, restaurants, microbreweries, and community halls, about how to work together to deliver a workspace model that suits Traction’s employees’ needs and locations. Their plan is to add a range of smaller shops, which have “high numbers of employees.” The idea is to provide a work area for those who want flexibility or work asynchronously, and support local businesses who suffered from pandemic losses at the same time. According to Traction CEO Greg Malpass: “These paces aren’t full each day. We want to partner with these local retailers and coffee shops and places for people to come together, and make sure there is accessible internet, and that there is enough stuff for people to get done what they need — laptops, strong WiFi and sockets — simple stuff. Then they can come and go as they please.” As mentioned, our employment and career goals research found that more than half of Millennials plan to work from home post-COVID—and “third workplaces” could be the solution to provide the flexibility of WFH without the stuck-at-home feeling.
Elaborate Home Office Amenities
Sure, having the option to work from a coffee shop or hotel, or outdoor spaces with cool features could potentially get young employees’ creative juices flowing, but for the people who want to continue working from the comfort of their own home, some companies have a different solution. To reach this generation of workers—particularly podcasters and influencers—residential developers from California to Florida have been “rebranding” their units with more appealing “work-from-home amenities.” (YPulse’s celebrities and influencer behavioral report found that 56% of 13-39-year-olds would like to be an online celebrity.) Developers from L.A. and other major cities are converting their buildings to include co-working spaces, Zoom conference rooms, soundproofed podcast recording areas and “jam rooms,” and TikTok studios, a small space “ideal for one or two people to make TikToks.” Some are even writing garden areas and pool decks with commercial-grade WiFi and USB ports, and designing in-home offices with separate entrances, soundproofing and “souped-up” air filtration systems. Some entrepreneurs and small business owners are even saving money on an actual office, and instead are looking for apartments that include co-working lounges or have work-friendly amenities. Last year, YPulse’s No Place Like Home trend report found that 49% of work from home employees are interested in having a home office.
The Rise of “Workcations” & Digital Nomads
And of course, there’s the workers who don’t want to work in an office space or in their homes—but rather, in a van or while on the road. A recent Priceline survey reported that 60% of Americans say remote work has encouraged them to work wherever and take more workcations. Parents were also more likely than non-parents to say that remote work has encouraged them to take more workcations. COVID is arguably fueling the rise of digital nomads—those who work out of a van or during vacation during the day, and spend their free time driving and exploring new destinations. While freelancers or employees with flexible hours tend to choose the digital nomad life, it’s still possible for those who have nine-to-five jobs. According to an MBO Partners report, the population of digital nomads rose nearly 50% between 2019 and 2020—reaching 10.9 million people. Last September, Jack Ferris, who is an account director for The OCTOPUS Group, sold his home in London and moved into a campervan with his wife—a decision which was prompted by no longer having to be in the office full-time. According to Ferris: “We have spent most of this year working remotely from Cornwall and Devon. I’m still tied to 9-to-5 hours but we make the most of the time outside of this, running or walking on the beach before breakfast. The hour’s commute has been replaced with anything we want. It’s been a game changer for workplace happiness.” Meanwhile, Smriti Bhadauria and Kartik Vasan (along with their dog) have been travelling in their 1977 Dodge B200 Tradesman since leaving Toronto last summer. Their Instagram account @thebrownvanlife has 10.6K followers, and others have also documented their van life on social media: The hashtag #vanlife generates millions of posts on Instagram, while the same hashtag has a whopping 4.8 billion views on TikTok. For many workers who have chosen the “van life,” the internet is the most important thing they need. For some, the money they previously spent on commuting into an office or for rent, they instead shell out for proper, or even multiple, hotspots from major carriers like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Some are even going all out, and building full kitchens and placing solar panels in their vans. Not only are workers excited to travel more this summer—and do so without having to take PTO—75% of employees say remote work has made work-life balance more achievable, and some have even embraced “van life” to travel full-time.
YPulse Business users can access the full employment and career goals behavioral report and data here.
Don’t have a YPulse Business account? Find out more here.