Working from home this past year, Kristin Boyd, communications director for the Reading School District in Pennsylvania, found herself searching for a quiet, well-lit space to focus. Some days she worked on the living room couch. Other times, when she logged in to meetings, she sought refuge in a bathroom to mask her children’s chatter, virtual classes, or her husband’s work calls.
“Everybody’s trying to find a space they feel most comfortable in, with the least distraction,” says Boyd.
Boyd recently bought herself a desk. She’s also purchased earbuds, noise-canceling headphones, and a lamp to backlight online meetings. She may invest in additional work-from-home tools if her district decides to give employees more flexibility to work remotely some days after they return to the office.
It’s a decision that many employers have already made — committing to a hybrid work model going forward, in which some employees work remotely all or part of the time. A survey by the Capgemini Research Institute shows that more than one-third of companies expect 70% or more of their employees to work remotely in the coming years. In a recent PwC survey, more than 60% of executives plan to increase spending on virtual collaboration tools and manager training to support remote work, and more than half of employees (55%) now want to be remote at least three days a week.
Hybrid work is bringing changes to company policies, procedures, and culture, from meeting times to check-ins, and requires new tools and technology for workers who will be on the move, albeit very short distances. Pre-pandemic, the trend was mobility: being able to work wherever there was a decent Wi-Fi connection, be it on a plane or in a conference center. Now we’ve entered the age of “micromobility,” where workers need to move seamlessly from the home to the office and back again, and any spot in the home could become a workspace at a moment’s notice.