As the vaccine becomes more available, what will our work-life look like?
A number of professionals will stay permanently remote—while others will experience more flexibility. This flux will impact a group of advertisers largely defined by 2020—work-from-home (WFH) brands.
Some WFH-related brands experienced their peak spending during COVID (i.e. home furnishings). But others will experience growth in 2021. Which brands should you be keeping your eye on as people start working outside the home again?
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The Importance of Connectedness in the Workplace Put Co-Working Spaces in a Good Position
We all know that the pandemic created an environment that makes connection difficult—especially for employees deprived of a workplace environment. And this disconnection can have serious consequences.
In 2017, studies showed a lack of social connection can cause physical health problems similar to those induced by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
As people become exhausted from the WFH experience, co-working spaces that struggled in 2020 might find new momentum in 2021. WeWork not only survived almost near-implosion and the pandemic, but is on its way to profitability and another chance of going public. Its competitor Industrious also expanded locations during the pandemic.
“In my mind, 2021 will be less about Zoom happy hours and more about addressing the root causes of lack of connectedness and building a long-term, collaborative culture,” says Amy Reichenadter, chief People officer of Databricks. The mental health of employees is not just a nice thing to have—it’s essential for productivity, creativity and a long-term collaborative company culture.
Reestablishing connectedness will require a multifaceted approach, but flexible office spaces for employees may become central to a reorganized workforce.
How Traditional Office Spaces Could Change Post-Pandemic
The longer professionals work from home, the more likely employers and employees will want to do so after the pandemic.
“Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021,” says Kate Lister, president of Globals Workplace Analytics.
An increasing remote workforce will change the workflow, architecture, and other aspects of the office environment. Generally, companies’ responses to these changes will fall into three categories:
- Workplaces will look different: Open floor plans will be reduced and hygiene protocols will become more strict (i.e. purification systems, hard floors, materials that are easier to clean).
- Downsized office spaces and adaptive technology will flourish: The purpose of the office will change to more of a collaboration site, leading to the incorporation of supportive technology (i.e. more motion-activated lights and distance-controlled temperature controls).
- Repurposed real-estate: A surplus of real-estate will likely reduce prices and force leaders to use it for different purposes (i.e. affordable housing or rental space for smaller businesses)
Cal Henderson, co-founder and CTO, of Slack explains:
“Prior to the pandemic, our offices globally were very oriented around a seat for every employee [and] every employee going to be in the office every day. While we had a lot of collaborative and meeting spaces, I think that ratio is going to change pretty significantly.”
With these changes approaching, we expect to see shifts in brands that support the WFH setup.
Ad Spend in the Work-From-Home Space
Ad spend from companies providing co-working spaces decreased 82% from January 2020 to January 2021. And ad spend for furnishings decreased 42% in that same time period.
As we move out of the pandemic, a significant number of businesses will continue with a hybrid-model, meaning that employees will continue to work from home in the spaces they’ve created there—or they may turn to co-working spaces.
Even though co-working spaces may not be advertising as aggressively as they did pre-COVID, 2021 offers the potential for growth that simply wasn’t possible before. Many workers are tired of working from home—and once vaccinations become more widespread, we’ll likely see co-working spaces begin to thrive.
While the spend on co-working and home furnishings is still down, spending for internet service providers was up 13% YoY in January. Database software management ad spend is also up significantly—66% YoY.
As the return to the ‘new office’ unfolds, we’ll be measuring the ad spend of WFH and co-working related companies to see if there are any major shifts throughout the year.
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