There’s been lots of talk about a fully remote-work future, fueled by excitement about wearing pajamas in meetings and avoiding train delays. Sadly, that’s more of a dream than a reality.

Though the pendulum swung heavily toward remote work, it’s now making its way back from that extreme and will probably land somewhere in the middle.

Rather than speculate further, we here at Pilot surveyed 200+ of our Manhattan business customers—ranging from tech startups to architecture firms— to see what the future of work looks like for them. The survey revealed that New Yorkers are already going back to the office, with many opting for a hybrid work environment: splitting the time between in-office and remote work.

Not only has COVID changed the way we work, but it also showed the benefits of hybrid working.

The COVID effect

Before the pandemic hit, only 17% of people worked from home. But this number jumped to 44% when lockdown hit in early 2020. Employees raced to set up home offices, and employers scrambled to provide them with the equipment and connectivity needed to support their work. 

But McKinsey data showed only 22 percent of employees can work remotely between three and five days a week without a negative impact on productivity. Employees in accommodation, food services, transportation, and warehousing experience the most significant drops in productivity when working remotely.

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Part of the problem may be a lack of reliable internet infrastructure: According to a study by Stanford, 35 percent of Americans reported having poor internet at home–or no internet whatsoever–which prevented effective telecommuting. (yikes.)

But even in a world of excellent connectivity, half the workforce would never be able to work remotely due to their jobs’ collaborative or location-dependent nature. (Can’t exactly give someone an oil change from home...) 

With all these obstacles to remote work, it’s no surprise 75% of executives anticipate at least half of their employees will be back in the office by July 2021.

The benefits of being in-office

Despite the perks of working from home—hello, sleeping in—data shows employees and leaders alike still believe there are benefits to working in-office and don’t want to phase it out completely. 

(Pilot 2021 Future of Work Survey Data)

Of the 217 workers surveyed, 63.2% are either in the office or working in a hybrid situation.  And 70.5% of the companies that noted they were "All Remote” said they have plans to go back to the office by the end of 2021.

And there's plenty of good reasons to head back to the office. 

Developing a strong work culture comes easier with employees in hybrid work environments. A survey of Fortune 500 companies found that 61% of executives expect to see stronger camaraderie and morale, and 45% expect to see better collaboration when teams work together in-office.

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In our survey, Pilot customers said hybrid environments also offered them increased comfort and flexibility, along with periodic breaks from family time. Plus, working in the office lets employees focus more efficiently and with fewer distractions than they may experience at home.

And let’s be honest: You miss your coffee cart guy. 

And he probably missed you too, because Manhattan’s economy is heavily reliant on its usual 1.2 million commuting office workers. Although Subway ridership is not quite back to pre-pandemic levels, it is climbing fast, bringing more commuters back to the island and bringing smiles to the faces of plenty of coffee cart guys. 

Moving forward: hybrid work

Plenty of research points to the hybrid office as the future for many companies, and our customer survey showed it’s certainly true of many New York businesses: 54% of those surveyed are currently working in a hybrid environment.

(Pilot 2021 Future of Work Survey Data)

Data from PWC revealed that 95% of executives believe at least some in-office time is required to maintain office culture. So we likely won’t see many entirely remote situations permanently. 

For companies still figuring out the transition into the post-pandemic world, the most important thing is figuring out how to do it efficiently.

How Do You Power a Hybrid Workforce?

Now that we know hybrid working arrangements aren’t going anywhere, a fast and reliable office internet connection is more important than ever. 

(Pilot 2021 Future of Work Survey Data)

High-bandwidth video calls aren’t going anywhere. Nearly 32% of our customers said their video conferencing usage would stay the same over the next two years, and 56% said they expect it to increase.

Employees in the office need to connect with employees at home and clients and customers navigating their transition back to the office. Investing in the right infrastructure to support this hybrid environment is crucial, and that starts with offering a robust and reliable internet connection.

Most companies accomplish this with a dedicated video conferencing space in their offices. 65% of those Pilot surveyed either already have video conferencing space in their NYC office or plan to create it (which echoes the PWC data below, at 57%).

(Image Source: PWC)

These investments into digital infrastructure—increasing bandwidth to support the new hybrid workforce—will be less of a convenience and more of a necessity.

Wrapping up

Your pets may be upset, but the benefits of splitting the time between working from home and working in the office are hard to ignore. And who knows–maybe wear-your-pajamas-to-work-day will make a comeback!

When your company moves back into the office and needs a trusted internet service provider to keep employees happy, let Pilot help you connect with your employees and clients worldwide. Find out if Pilot is in your building and join the thousands of businesses—including Slack, Casper, Morning Brew, and Peloton—powered by Pilot.