Risky business: the hidden pitfalls of hybrid working

This WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing looks at new data from Leesman on the dangers for hybrid working, and at a new Manhattan tower billed as the world’s skinniest skyscraper

Hybrid working now looks like the solution many organisations are seeking to have the best of both worlds – office and remote. Some voices say it’s inevitable. Yet, for organisations with a stronger attachment to pre-pandemic ways of working, it is the silent threat they’ve been dreading.

But what does the data say? Are hybrid workers better off than their office-based or remote-based colleagues? A new report by Leesman examines the data of 67,000 workers collected in the second half of 2021 and uncovers the hidden risks of hybrid working that affect many organisations. The majority of the employees surveyed were hybrid workers: they used more than one location for work.

First, the report acknowledges the fundamental plus side of hybrid: employees have the autonomy to optimise their experience of work. The Leesman data found that 97 per cent of hybrid employees agreed that at least one of the two environments they use enables them to work productively.

But the benefits do not come without risks. The data uncovered that trust, technology, health and wellbeing, and commuting are the potential risks in delivering an optimal hybrid working experience. While these aspects seem to be working well now, the decline in any one of these areas could make the entire company hybrid structure crumble.

‘Trust, technology, wellbeing and commuting are potential risks in delivering a hybrid experience…’

Hybrid working does not work without trust. The pandemic forced leaders to trust their workforce to work more autonomously, and for the most part it was a success. Currently, Leesman data suggests that 93 per cent of employees perceive that their employer trusts them to do their work regardless of where they work. This number needs to stay consistently high in order for hybrid to be sustainable.

Hybrid working can only work if the necessary technology infrastructure is in place to support the flow of work across different locations. The Leesman data suggests that technology is not currently one of the biggest barriers – 93 per cent of employees say that they have the software applications they need to work from anywhere. However, poor technology can quickly threaten the hybrid ecosystem.

Health and wellbeing is still a concern as the pandemic refuses to go away. Nearly two-thirds of the 67,000 workers surveyed by Leesman were defined as hybrid workers and this group had the lowest percentage of health concerns. However, health concerns could threaten the success of a hybrid working model if employees are unwilling to return to the office for health reasons.

In a hybrid future, the commute may be one of the key factors determining an employee’s likelihood to visit the workplace. More than 40 per cent of employees said they were dissatisfied with their commute and the duration of the commute seems to be a key deal-breaker.

Leesman’s analysis of hybrid working discovered that although hybrid working experience can provide a good solution for the future landscape of work, it is not free of risks.

World’s skinniest skyscraper

The world’s skinniest skyscraper has reached completion with the final exterior cladding elements added this month to the new structure at 111 West 57th Street in New York City.

Designed by SHoP Architects in the expensive environment of midtown Manhattan, the tower stands 1,428 feet (435 metres) tall. This makes it not only the world’s thinnest skyscraper with a height-to-width ratio of 24:1 but also the second tallest tower in the western world.

The building is buttressed by the world’s highest-strength concrete. Amenities include a large 82-feet (25-metre) swimming pool, private dining room and double-height fitness centre. But don’t think that New York office workers will enjoy such luxuries – this building is largely residential with an expensive home on each floor.

Learning from Munich

Interested in the hybrid working issues discussed in this WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing? Then check out our WORKTECH events calendar for 2022 to engage in the big conversation on the future of work and workplace.

Hear how large firms such as Boston Consulting Group, Deka Immoblien, and Roche are avoiding the risks of hybrid working in an expert panel at WORKTECH Munich on Tuesday 31 May 2022. The panel entitled ‘Making Hybrid Work Work’ explores how technology and innovation can enhance employee experience and how organisations can maintain a flexible real estate portfolio. Secure your place at WORKTECH Munich here.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our in-person, virtual and hybrid platforms. This edition is posted 13 April 2022.
Find exclusive content in the


Premium content for Global Partners, Corporate and Community Members.
The latest analysis and commentary on the future of work and workplace in five distinct themes: Research & Insights, Case Studies, Expert Interviews, Trend Publications, and Technology Guides.