News came this week that century-old Family Houston is moving to smaller digs to adapt to changes in work schedules. The nonprofit will move from its old 22,000-square-foot building to a smaller space within the Depelchin Children's Center. The reason? All that space doesn't make sense in the new hybrid work world.
Before COVID hit, big buildings were a source of pride for nonprofits and the message they sent to funders was: "Sustainability!" Now, since we all got so used to working virtually, they just scream "Empty Space!"
It is a change that all businesses are wrestling with, but nonprofits in particular. Office real estate company, CBRE studied the impact that virtual work has had on nonprofits and the report has a lot of valuable insight for organizations that are trying to find the right balance:
Employees have embraced hybrid work, with 80% desiring a mix of both at-home and in-office options. fewer than 20% never want to go into the office, but almost no one wants a full return to the office.
At one end of the scale, only 6% of organizations are requiring or planning to require full-time office attendance and, at the other end, only 8 percent plan to eliminate their physical office entirely and work fully virtual.
While about half of nonprofits planned to keep the same office space, 40% were looking for ways to shrink their footprint.
Culture and employee preferences are big challenges. A third of the nonprofits in the survey say company culture weakened during the pandemic. This needs to be weighed against the reality that employees like hybrid work and this is especially true for the types of people that make up the nonprofit world, more diverse and younger workers. A separate study by Mckinsey found that:
Younger employees (18–34 years old) were 59 percent more likely to leave than older ones (55–64 years old).
Black employees were 14 percent more likely than their White peers.
LGBQ+ employees were 24 percent more likely to leave than heterosexual ones.
Women were approximately 10 percent more likely than men, and employees who identify as nonbinary were 18 percent more likely than men and women.
Employees with disabilities were 14 percent more likely to leave than employees without them.
Time will tell, but we can hope that the winners will be the populations we serve because more donor funds will flow to them and not into monthly rent checks.