Here’s the Latest WE:Brief – WE keep you in the know – July!

Here’s what it found about meetings, culture, workdays, and engagement.

Using de-identified data from email, calendar, and IM, Microsoft finds:

• Its salespeople have significantly increase collaboration time with customers during COVID-19

• The number of meetings increased by 10%, but decreased in length. They saw a 22% increase on meetings 30 minutes or less and 11% fewer meetings lasting more than an hour.

• For managers, Microsoft Teams calls more than doubled (compared to a 50% increase for non-managers). 

• There was an inverse correlation between the frequency of one on one manager/employee meetings and extra work hours; managers were keeping their team focused and buffering them from the chaos

• Meetings generally gravitated away from mornings in favor of afternoons

• Time boundaries were blurred. The work day started earlier and ended later as people used the flexibility to address personal needs during the day. Similarly, weekend work increased.

• Personal network size actually increased and not just within work groups, but outside them too.



Developer Josh Jeffers plans 103 apartments and 220 beds of student housing in the current Journal Sentinel buildings he just acquired, and wants to offer them at lower rents to help make downtown affordable to more people.

This former newspaper building is being repurposed to help solve housing crisis. Might this be the future of excess office space?


As the coronavirus keeps spreading, employers are convinced remote work has a bright future. Decades of setbacks suggest otherwise.

1) I don’t understand why so many (particularly in the media) like to make this conversation about the extremes; either all remote or none. In reality, a mix works best and that’s how most companies operated pre-COVID-19. The sweet spot is 2-3 days a week. Sure some will work from home full-time and some won’t do it all, but when given a choice, the majority of people want a mix. They get their collaborative and social time ‘at work’ and heads-down time at home. 
2) The media loves to cite the failures (Yahoo, Best Buy, IBM), but a) they represent a minority, b) they were all deeply troubled companies when they called back their remote workers. In the case of Yahoo, the CEO indicated people weren’t working as hard (as evidenced by VPN traffic). Sorry, but that’s a management problem, not a remote work problem. If you don’t know what your people are doing when they’re out of the office, then you probably don’t know what they’re doing when they’re in the office because you’re obviously not managing by results. Recalling remote workers because these companies did is a strategy in following the loser. 

Most of Google’s US workforce has been working remotely since March due to the coronavirus. And last month, CEO Sundar Pichai said he expects most employees will largely be working from home for the rest of the year.

Even before COVID-19, Google had deployed their Blue Dot program to offer peer-to-peer conversations about hard topics. Many of their other wellness and well-being have gone virtual including virtual workouts, cooking classes, and continual reminders to take breaks, get the right amount of rest, and sit up straight. They’ve also recently added a $1k stipend to help employees invest in good ergonomic solutions. 


Many people are stuck working at home. A new survey found that 77% of workers want to continue to work from home at least once a week when the pandemic is over. As a result, some managers are turning to “productivity management” software to track employees while they work remotely. But are there limits to the ways in which employers can track their workers at home in pursuit of productivity? Watch the video to find out more.

If it takes keyboard tracking or regular screenshots of what an employee is working on for a manager to trust they’re working, they shouldn’t be managing! And why are they only worried about time cheats when they’re at home? What about the slackers in the office?


Lest you think this is a fringe occurrence, it is not. The video includes an interview with a registered nurse whose former employer, a Fortune 500 company, penalized its insurance claim reviewers if their mouse went idle outside of break and lunch times. 


Who’s tracking the trackers? Who should be making the decisions about employee privacy?


Discover how new functionality takes the guesswork out of safe space planning now and for the future.

Planning a return to the workplace amid ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic means rethinking space planning to follow safe distancing guidelines. In response to this growing need, iOFFICE has developed a planning tool that takes the guesswork out of physical distancing.


The Space-Right™ safe distancing feature automatically reconfigures your floor plans with a simple slider, based on physical distance parameters. Click here to learn more.  


Contact Info:

Mike Petrusky

Director of Events and Growth Marketing


Many thanks to our wonderful WE sponsors! Your generous support makes our community, programs, events, and this WE:Brief possible. 

To learn more about sponsorship, contact Susan Spiers. View the WE sponsorship benefits for further details.


With Facebook and Twitter’s move to permanent remote work Silicon Valley could lose its secret weapon.

This article ponders what will happen to serendipitous collisions when employees with the option to work remotely flee the high cost of living in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs. One argument is, of course, the demise of innovation, but another is more hopeful. Some argue that real innovation has been stalled for decades. The big guys now just wait in the wings for a chance to gobble up what others have invented. 

The author also questions whether serendipity, like perhaps the water cooler, might be ripe for reimagining anyway. For at least the last decade, the innovation process has taken place within and among a very siloed group of inventors. Only 2.3% of VC monies went to teams with Black foundersin the last eight years. Less than 3% went to female teams. If all the serendipitous collisions you have is with people just like you, how likely are your inventions to solve global problems. 

While nobody’s yet figured out how to replicate creative collisions in the virtual world, perhaps there’s something to be said for what remote work can do to diversify of the thought pool.


As more companies embrace working from home, experts predict some workers may leave major U.S. cities and head to smaller, more affordable ones.

Research by Brookings finds that 90% of the US innovation sector is based in just 5 cities. While some predict increased adoption of remote work will lead to a demise of big cities, this article suggests it will actually bring about positive change by: 

– Reducing the cost to live in some of the nation’s top tech cities

– Bringing much-needed revenue to struggling regions

– Diversifying the innovation thought pool 

What do you think? 


Previously, many employers allowed remote working as a convenience for their employees.  Because working remotely was not required, many employers could decline “work from home” reimbursements because the employee’s expenses were voluntary (i.e. the employee chose to work remotely).  However, COVID-19 and the resulting shelter-in-place orders have redefined the working landscape, requiring many employees to work remotely to keep businesses afloat. 

Prior to COVID-19, only about a quarter of employers paid or reimbursed employees for home office related expenses. But now that it’s not really voluntary, they may not have a choice, at least if their employees live in California. The law, which isn’t new, “requires reimbursement for “necessary” and “reasonable” costs incurred by the employee as a condition of continued employment.” Examples of costs they may be required to absorb include: 

  – Computer equipment

  – Cellular usage

  – Increased home energy

  – Printer

  – Shredder

The article points to other expenses that may be deemed reasonable and necessary also including some that may see ludicrous on the surface. Penalties for non-compliance are stiff. Likely CA isn’t the only state where old statutes require new interpretation.

The bottom line is, be sure you understand the labor (and tax) laws in all of the states where your employees are working.


COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders have called into question the future need for office space. While we believe there may be a permanent shift to remote working arrangements, determining the impacts to office demand requires a more nuanced approach. 

This MetLife paper estimates U.S. occupied office space will grow at about the same rate it has historically (about 1.5%) from 7.1 billion sq. feet now to  8.1 billion by 2030. While their model assumes more work-from-home, they predict most attempts at full-time remote will fail. The rest of the growth will be due to resistance to hoteling in the wake of the pandemic (thus little to no real estate savings from part-time remote work) and dedensification of existing stock.


The shelter has been in the works for three years and is comprised of eight floors and 63,000 square feet in the Amazon headquarters. There are separate entrances and “acoustic isolation” from the tech giant.

Nearly 8 in 10 office employees want to continue working from home on average half the time. Back of the envelope numbers suggest this could eventually lead to a 1 billion s.f. reduction in U.S. office space. Could this be the solution to the not just homelessness but the housing crisis?


On the third Thursday of each month, Megan Campbell and Emily Dunn hosts a stimulating webinar on a leading workplace topics. Members receive an invitation in advance and a link to recordings following the webinar. 


11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Workplace Management Program: Module 1 Webinar 3 – Managing Clients and Consumers
In this module we discuss the concept of the employee as a consumer and examine what that means in practice.

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Workplace Management Program: Module 2 Webinar 3 – Designing a Change Program
The Workplace Management Program (WMP) is comprised of four (4) modules, each of which includes three (3) live webinars and one (1) virtual workshop. In webinar 3, we’ll talk about the practicalities of designing a change program, getting people onboard and how to maintain the change over time.

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Workplace Management Program: Module 3 Webinar 3 – Risk Management
The Workplace Management Program (WMP) is comprised of four (4) modules, each of which includes three (3) live webinars and one (1) virtual workshop. In this learning, we will learn how to set up Risk Management processes and develop business continuity plans in a workplace context. 

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Missing Pieces: The Business Case for D&I – Session 3
In this session, we’ll discuss the critical components that are often missing from the business case conversation.
Please join the Mid-Atlantic & Northern California Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) Hubs for this vital 3-part series, The IDEA Series (Inclusiveness, Diversity, Equity & Action): A Pathway to Progress. This series focuses on putting the values of Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity into Action in the workplace.

09/30/2020 – 10/02/2020
IFMA’s World Workplace Conference and Expo – Chicago
McCormick Place, Chicago IL
Registration is open for World Workplace 2020! Join WE and the exciting presentations and educational sessions in Chicago Illinois.


Don’t worry if you missed a webinar, you can still enjoy it here.


Explore iOFFICE’s suite of facility management software designed for the digital workplace. Discover the tools you need to meet today’s demands and exceed the goals of tomorrow.


Mike Petrusky
Director of Events & Growth Marketing