Innovation in Real Estate: The Hybrid Experience Spectrum
The MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab and EY are taking part in an educational webinar series on the topic of Innovation in Real Estate.
The newest episode of this webinar featured MIT REIL Director Dr. Andrea Chegut, EY’s Mark Grinis, Roselyn Feinsod, Jeffrey Chulick, and Microsoft’s John Scherer. In this educational exchange, the discussion focused specifically on defining the hybrid work experience, and recognizing what types of technologies and innovations can help us support and understand this experience better.
“The more telling question is when do I need the office, and when do I need a certain type of space or a certain type of activity…In-person experiences will never be offset by a virtual wine tasting, so the work activities and the connectivity, in my mind, are more the question than the number of days in the office.” - Mark Grinis, Ernst & Young
The hybrid work experience has been evolving over the past 60 years. Throughout the decades, the debate has escalated with the arrival of each new digital or telecommunications tool. For some, this has meant an extreme option: the end of the office as we know it. For others, it has pushed them deeper into proving the productivity of the office and its unique place where people will be able to “invent” and “innovate”. This discussion continues today, but in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic it has taken on new meaning and further investigation.
To that end, the pandemic has pushed the debate to generate – and even refine – the development of a third option: the so-called hybrid work experience. In this third option, the discourse has brought up many tensions in our understanding around what work is, its role in the human experience, its function in how humans create within their community, and, importantly, where they need to experience it.
Our contribution is to understand what the hybrid work experience is. We want to deconstruct what we already know about the hybrid work experience and what questions are left to be answered. In addition, we want to understand – especially given some of the tenuous evidence on productivity – if the hybrid work experience produces so-called “productivity” outcomes. Further, we want to dig into the debate to recognize what types of technologies and innovations would help us support and understand the hybrid work experience better. Lastly, we want to reveal the secondary effects and consequences of those technology tools for the human experience so that readers can ethically consider their approach to hybrid work.
"There is a lot of misinformation around hybrid work. My hope is that we can start to identify and measure what we do and do not understand about the human experience and work." - Dr. Andrea Chegut, MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab
To engage in this dialogue, we looked into what the hybrid work experience is, and where we are at informally defining and tracking this type of process. Second, we engaged with thought leaders in EY’s U.S. Real Estate and Construction practice to learn about their experiences with clients, perspectives from thought leaders, and the research they’re producing. Third, we gained insights by participating in an online webinar with EY’s Mark Grinis, Roselyn Feinsod, Jeffrey Chulick, and Microsoft’s John Scherer, which focused on many elements of the hybrid work experience. Lastly, our team further reflected and performed research on the debate, producing thoughts on where to learn more.
From our research, we learned that we are in the early stages of understanding the hybrid work experience. First, we have very little evidence about how the hybrid work experience coincides with official statistics, as firms only understand whether you are in an office that is a part of their own ecosystem, with little knowledge on where people work elsewhere. Second, based on national statistics, our time spent doing work has been consistent across the pandemic, but our sentiments about the outcomes are split on how productive we actually were. Third, there are more technologies and tools that are available today to help us facilitate the hybrid work experience, and future technologies will continue to elevate the experience. This will require the real estate industry to stretch its digital acumen further and further. Finally, in the process of developing these digital tools to support technology, we need to incorporate how this impacts the human experience, privacy, inclusivity, and ethics. Overall, little has been concluded on productivity and its role in the hybrid work experience, and the real estate industry will require specific tools on how to navigate and support this change moving forward.