I was on a Mediterranean cruise recently where the average age looked to be 75+, the majority of the people were retired and I engaged a few in conversation about the status of work. The vast majority said that work will be back to the pre-Covid normal within 5 years, meaning that employees will be required to return to the office 5 days/week. The prediction stunned me as most of the colleagues I speak with, albeit, they are much younger than the cruise crowd, believe that hybrid work is here to stay, myself included. We believe this is a fundamental shift in the employer/employee relationship that will drive increased flexibility in how and where we work for years to come.
It would seem that we are in good company given that a recent Robert Half survey https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/hybrid-working-your-office-future
indicated that one-third of professionals (34%) currently working from home due to COVID-19 would quit if required to be in the office full-time. Nearly half of respondents (49%) said they prefer a hybrid work arrangement, where they can divide their time between the office and another location. Hybrid Work Is Here To Stay. Now What? (Back to Work, Better) (hbr.org)
According to the 2021 Work Trend Index, The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready? (microsoft.com)over 40 percent of the global workforce considered leaving their employer last year, meaning a thoughtful approach to hybrid work will be critical for attracting and retaining diverse talent. Over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue. Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.”
I could not find supporting data anywhere suggesting that my new cruise friends were correct in their contention that employees would be “required” to return to work in an office 5 days a week. That got me to thinking about the rate of change and how much some of them have experienced in the last 75-85 years. According to Futurism A Look at How Much Humanity Has Advanced Over the Last 100 Years (futurism.com)
World Literacy Rates
- 1917: The world literacy rate was only 23%.
- Today: Depending on estimates, the world literacy rate today is 86.1%.
- 1917: It took 5 days to get from London to New York; 3.5 months to travel from London to Australia.
- Today: A nonstop flight gets you from London to New York in a little over 8 hours, and you can fly from London to Australia in about a day, with just one stop.
- 1917: On July 1, 1916, Coca-Cola introduced its current formula to the market.
- Today: Today, Coca-Cola has a market cap of about $178 billion with 2015 net operating revenues over $44 billion. Each day, over 1.9 billion servings of Coca-Cola drinks are enjoyed in more than 200 countries.
- 1917: John D. Rockefeller became the world’s first billionaire on September 29.
- Today: There are approximately 1,810 billionaires, and their aggregate net worth is $6.5 trillion. For context, Rockefeller’s net worth in today’s dollars would have been about $340 billion. Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, is worth $84 billion today.
Traffic (Horses to Cars)
- 1917: In 1912, traffic counts in New York showed more cars than horses for the first time.
- Today: There were approximately 253 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads in 2015.
- 1917: The major tech invention in 1917? The toggle light switch.
- Today: The major tech invention of today? CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology, which enables us to reprogram life as we know it. And we are making strides in AI, robotics, sensors, networks, synthetic biology, materials science, space exploration and more every day.
- 1917: The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
- Today: The maximum speed limit in (or around) most cities is about 70 mph.
So, perhaps rather than a prediction they were making a plea, for the rate of change to slow down, for things to revert back to “the way they used to be”, however unlikely that may be.