As fall approaches and with it the annual return to office debate, Collective is happy to be able to bring more nuanced insights and information to our subscribers. The future of work is multitudinous and we hope that more teams will come around to the idea that the future of work and place are “plus not versus.

This week’s newsletter is a 6 minute read, or the time it takes to download the update your computer started just as your zoom meeting began. Collective Bookmarks is sponsored by HQO, the world’s leading workplace experience platform.

In This Week’s Issue:

Events We’re Attending:

“The Benefits of Flexbility For Organizations” with Brian Elliott in our Collective Connect Community

Books We’re Reading: Wanting by Luke Burgis

As always, if you have feedback or questions please reach out.


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Three Things You Should Know

From The World of Work and Place

1.Moments That Matter

As flexible work becomes more established, a new phase known as “structured flexible work” is emerging, where organizations are aiming to create norms and best practices for balancing remote work and in-person connection. This is according to Microsoft in their latest research they’ve published based on their own internal working practices. They emphasize empowering individuals and teams to decide what works best for them within company guidelines. According to research employees desire a mix of flexible work and in-person interaction. Microsoft’s internal data points to three key moments when in-person time is particularly beneficial: strengthening team cohesion, onboarding to a new role or team, and kicking off a project.

The importance of in-person connection is highlighted in these moments. While the degree of flexibility may vary by role, studies indicate that employees are seeking meaningful connections with their colleagues. Microsoft has found that strengthening team cohesion, in particular, has become crucial as organizations have become more distributed. They emphasize the need to recharge social capital and foster a sense of belonging through in-person interactions. Onboarding to new roles also benefits from in-person meetings, as these interactions facilitate trust-building and understanding of tasks and priorities. Additionally, kicking off projects in person sparks creativity, innovation, and efficient coordination.

The key takeaway is that a balanced approach to flexible work involves intentional consideration of when in-person time is most valuable. This approach enhances productivity, employee satisfaction, and inclusivity. Organizations need to weigh the benefits of in-person interactions against factors like travel, expenses, and deep work, all while adapting to the evolving dynamics of the modern workplace.

white plates with assorted foods

What We Think:  Balancing all of the pieces mentioned above is no small feat. Especially for workplace teams who support bringing employees together for those moments that matter. It’s important to figure out ways to support employee programs, and also create systems that enable employees to support themselves. We’ve seen a number of companies recently adopt onsite off-sites to bring people together at varying frequencies to build that social capital mentioned above, and for those teams it appears to be working quite well. We hope more teams like Microsoft will continue to share out their learnings as time goes on. For now you can read more from the article below.

2. Five Trends from the People Space

As people leaders within the world of workplace, how are you staying up to date with the latest trends?In Jennifer Paxton‘s latest Collective Thoughts article, she shares her perspective on the latest trends happening in the people space. From the permanence of hybrid working to candidates prioritizing mission over money, Jen does a great job of dissecting trends affecting the people side of workplace.

a group of people standing in front of a sunset

3. The Sustainability of RTO

Millions of workers are grappling with the return to office mandates after a period of remote work due to the pandemic. Many corporations argue for in-person collaboration and engagement, while opponents stress the productivity of remote work. However, the broader environmental consequences of these decisions often go unaddressed. In a recent article for Insider, Catherine Boudreau look at this subject in depth.

She notes the impact of commuting on greenhouse gas emissions and the environment is a key concern in this return-to-office debate. Transportation, especially passenger vehicles, contributes significantly to carbon emissions. While remote work can reduce emissions, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Factors such as commute distance, energy use at home, and individual behaviors complicate the calculation. Some experts advocate for finding a balance between office work and remote work to minimize the environmental impact. Despite growing awareness of sustainability, corporations often fail to prioritize the ecological consequences of their decisions, leaving employees like the one featured in this article conflicted between the convenience of remote work and the environmental cost of daily commutes.

cars on a highway at sunset

What We Think: Workplace teams have a unique opportunity to impact their company’s carbon footprint through the decisions they help make on procurement, design, and services. Now with the rise of hybrid working there is a new opportunity for workplace teams to not just affect change, but also to highlight information to help employees make smart decisions. We’re encouraged by tools like Watershed’s hybrid work calculator and other research happening in the space. If you know of a great solution helping teams understand the climate impact of their work models, please send us a note.

Together with
a woman holding a phone in her hand showing the application HQO

HqO, ranked No. 75 on the Inc. 5000 list, is transforming how people connect with each other and the places they work. The HqO Workplace Experience Platform and App makes it easy for companies and commercial property teams to create modern workplaces through world-class amenities and services that allow people to thrive and produce the best results. Active in over 250 million square feet in 25 countries, 57% of the Fortune 100 rely on HqO to enhance their workplace experiences, improve employee satisfaction, and drive operational excellence.

One Big Thing

“You have to think of your social capital like a battery…The longer you go without having in-person interaction, the lower the charge gets on your battery. These moments that matter—like a team week—allow us to recharge the battery.” – Maryleen Emeric

Someone You Should Know

In The World of Work And Place

Lauren Goldberg is a disability advocate and entrepreneur helping give people the tools they need to be confident changemakers. Currently as a coach, she helps people find and pursue what lights them up. Lauren has a variety of experience working and studying behavior change, motivation, and organizational culture for mission-driven organizations, both internally and as a consultant. She’s helped various organizations elevate employees’ experience and sense of belonging. Along with her professional experience, her lived experience with disabilities – including ADHD, dyslexia, and deafness/hard of hearing – has shaped much of how she sees the world, especially employee experience.

In Her Own Words: ​Designing our work cultures and systems alongside disabled people will transform our workplaces for everyone’s well-being.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15% of the world is living with disabilities and chronic conditions. In the US, that number is even higher – 1 in every 4 adults has disabilities. And as we age, everyone experiences a disability at some point in their life, whether it’s temporary or not. People are not disabled by their physical conditions, but rather by the way we design our world to primarily suit able-bodied people.

Living in mainstream society, we’re taught (whether we’re aware of it or not) being able-bodied is superior to having disabilities. This is especially true in “hustle and grind” work cultures. This is ableism. And it comes up in so many ways: our choice of words and metaphors, how we run meetings, how we set schedules, how we design our websites, and how we build our buildings. Having a disability does NOT make someone “less than”. It’s simply another way of existing (and thriving) in the world. All humans have different needs. But often our workplaces, and the way we have set up our work systems, are not accessible to meet those human needs.

How can we design our workplaces to be anti-ableist? I envision a world where workplaces go beyond the bare minimum, like what’s legally required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for example. I see a world where the norm is workplace design beyond having ramps and accessible parking. It’s developing systems for how our teams work and thrive together by centering the voices of people with disabilities. This means valuing these voices while evaluating and implementing intersectional DEIJ efforts. We can build impactful businesses that also accommodate humans having different needs – needs that also change.

Disabled people are the largest minority group in the world. If the goal is to build workplaces where all employees feel valued, designing our places and systems WITH & FOR disabled people will make our working world more inclusive, more accessible for everyone.

What’s Happening in The Collective Connect Community?

While we’re just getting started with the launch of our Collective Connect community we’re already lining up some incredible speakers. What’s even more exciting is most of our speakers are also community members. They’re Connectors.

We’ll be posting snippets from these events but the only way to fully participate and join in the conversation is to join the community. We hope to see you there.

A Product We’re Into


Scoop is the fastest way to plan your next great office day. With Scoop, employees get more out of going in, with easily scheduled in-office days and invites. For HR and workplace leaders, Scoop provides insights on work location trends, office usage, and additional workplace solutions to get the most out of hybrid work.

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What We Think: Scoop empowers your flexible work policy by making it easy to schedule and plan your work day. This solution helps workplace professionals gain insights on employee experience and real estate usage trends in all of your work locations which can help determine where and how your employees work best. We like this product because it helps automate and improve our daily schedule so we can better plan for in-office or WFH days with our personal schedule.

That’s It For This Week

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