What does Multiverse of Work
The multiverse is not a single prescription, but a concept that unleashes the power of flexibility.
Research from a variety of sources shows not only that knowledge workers want access to a Multiverse of Work, and that this helps them perform better. As companies adjust to this reality, what might it look like? The next few years will see a great deal of experimentation with various workplace models.
The frequency of remote versus onsite work will vary by industry, function, and geography, not to mention personal circumstance and preference. Some roles will always require more in-person collaboration with others, just as some personalities prefer more or less social interaction. Housing and family situations will still make working from home relatively easier for some people and more difficult for others. Clearly, no one solution will be universally applicable. Even so, there is much we can confidently say about how the multiverse will be implemented.
While very few companies will eliminate offices entirely, neither will they be the same as they once were.
1. Offices will remain, and get better.
Because offices are uniquely good at supporting certain worker needs, they will continue to function as a vital component of workplace strategy. But while very few companies will eliminate offices entirely, neither will they be the same as they once were. Some pandemic-driven features—such as touchless fixtures and improved air filtration and ventilation—will persist long after COVID fears subside. A renewed focus on physical wellness as a basic need will make offices in the multiverse healthier, more productive working environments. And just as employees will have flexibility about when they come to the office, they will also have more choices about where and how to work once they arrive. And though collaboration will be a primary driver of commuting to offices, the space itself will include plenty of comfortable, distraction-minimizing options for the inevitable individualized focused work that always must occur.
As working remotely becomes mainstream in the multiverse, companies will offer more resources to their employees to make them successful while doing so.
2. Employees will get more support for remote work
A great many workers will spend a higher percentage of their time working away from the office than they did prior to 2020. As working remotely becomes mainstream in the multiverse, companies will offer more resources to their employees to make them successful while doing so. These resources will vary widely. Standard Chartered’s arrangement with IWG is one example. Others include stipends or reimbursements for home office setups, including reliable broadband, hardware and software for video conferencing, furniture, and ergonomic equipment. This will serve the dual purposes of maximizing employee effectiveness and distributing workplace flexibility as equitably as possible.
Factoring in costs related to supporting workers while at home or other off-site locations, it seems more likely that workplace-related costs will shift or even increase rather than shrink.
3. Companies will invest even more in the workplace
Much has been made of the notion that, with fewer employees coming to the office on any given day, companies will sharply reduce their real estate footprints, saving millions in the process. Yet we believe that in the multiverse, successful companies will invest more in the workplace. Many will adjust the size and distribution of their portfolios to some degree – or make greater use of flex space options – both of which were already happening pre-COVID. But drastic cuts will be difficult to manage without purpose-defeating limitations on how many employees are allowed onsite at one time. To realize the advantages of less space, companies will spend on space management software to facilitate reservations, as well as technology to measure usage. Even the most aggressive remote-first organizations will eventually spend money on travel and lodging when bringing in far-flung employees for regular visits or for occasional large gatherings. Factoring in costs related to supporting workers while at home or other off-site locations, it seems more likely that workplace-related costs will shift or even increase rather than shrink.
With more workplace options, companies will have more dimensions to employ in attracting the talented people they need to compete.
Yet this investment will yield a return. As we have seen, working in the multiverse leads to happier, more productive employees who do better work because they are more engaged with their organizations. With more workplace options, companies will have more dimensions to employ in attracting the talented people they need to compete. It is a concept many of them are already embracing. “As employers, we have an opportunity to create an even better workplace,” says Brett Hyder of Salesforce, “one that allows us to be more connected to each other, find more balance between work and home, and advance equality—ultimately leading to increased innovation and better business outcomes.”
The future world of knowledge work will be far more expansive than most people imagined just a few years ago. It will align not only with worker preferences for flexibility, but also with better results through optimal human performance. The solutions will be complex, but for companies that execute well, worthwhile.