So we’re all basically running distributed teams now.  But not for long.  The corner will turn soon, and folks on your team will want to get back to the office in many cases.  Some of you will stay 100% distributed.  But the majority of SaaStr founders do plan to reopen an office of some sort.

Plan for it to be more work.

Personally, I’ve kind of enjoyed the distributed part of the last better-part-of-a-year.  We’ve become a tighter, more effective team.  We communicate better, because we have to.  And more importantly, the “remote” folks are no longer second-class citizens.  They’re not only equals, but several have stepped up and now become leaders.

At the same time though, our office costs have actually gone up (!) during Covid.  Why?  We’ve added 2 more small offices to supplement the team, and kept our SF office.  Net net, that’s 2x the rent.

What will be important:

  • Meetings will need to remain distributed-first.  This will be a big culture change when we go back.  Folks outside of the office can’t revert back just to folks on some screen somewhere.   That means making every meeting Zoom-first … even after all this.
  • Offices won’t really get smaller, probably.  There are some companies that have made “hotelling” work, but it’s hard.  Many engineers and others need a dedicated space — at home or at work — to be productive.  Not knowing where your desk is on any given day isn’t that.  Even if you make that work, you may need more space to make sure anyone that does want to come into the office can.  Net net, that does’t always lead to needing less space.  It didn’t when I was a VP at Adobe and we started to do this, and I doubt it will for others.
  • You may need more offices.  Folks will expect to work closer to home, and expect to have local areas to work together, at least part time.  So you may end up needing more offices.
  • Culture and people ops will be tougher — and you’ll need to invest more here.  No one will be used to this “hybrid” environment.  It will take an investment to get it all to work together.
  • We’ll all probably need quarterly retreats.  Quarterly off-sites for everyone have long been a part of distributed culture, but now every company may need to do this.  Not once a year, but every quarter.  They are great, but they drive up costs and importantly, are like a mini-event and require a lot of planning and logistics.

Net net, the “hybrid office” will be coming for most of us, and maybe really for the first time ever where there are no two-tiers of employees and team members.  It will be great.  But it won’t be cheaper.  It will be harder.  And it will require a lot more investment in culture.

If you want a deeper-dive, take a look at Raise’s (previously HelloOffice) report on hybrid offices here.  They can also help you plan one, and find one.  You’ll need help.



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