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Hybrid Work is Seemingly Here to Stay

The Washington Post reports about 50% of office workers are back in the office, a new post-pandemic milestone. Kastle Systems tracked return-to-office data, finding the ten cities tracked by the index (Austin, Dallas, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Philadelphia) reached average occupancy rates of at least 40 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Experts interviewed by the Post believe this number might be as good as it gets.

The numbers may not increase much more because employees across the country have resisted hard mandates to return, either leaving for new opportunities or ignoring in-office demands. Gallup data showed more than half of jobs that can be done remotely are now hybrid, up from 32 percent before the pandemic. The Post article notes companies are becoming more explicit in job postings about whether positions are in person, remote, or hybrid, with employees selecting according to their preferences. A Stanford economist noted, "Longer-run, work from home will clearly rise, as the technology supporting this is improving rapidly, driven by the surge in current levels."

While some large employers are working hard to get employees back (see  Disney, General Motors, and Starbucks), more companies seem to be moving forward on flexible work. The flexible work model allows companies to tap talent across the country. Apple and JPMorgan faced strong backlash to their strict requirement that workers return to the office. Some employers allow work teams to decide when to work in person and when to be remote. Some younger workers do want to work in person and seek out workplaces that require them to be in-person. It seems that the new normal is still evolving as employers and workers alike try to figure out what works.