The shift to hybrid work is already transforming the business world—and signaling shifts in the economy . What should forward-thinking leaders watch for? The latest episode of the WorkLab podcast features Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford University who has studied remote and hybrid work for nearly two decades.

Workplace flexibility is a recurring theme in his conversation with host Elise Hu—according to a LinkedIn survey of C-level executives, 81 percent of leaders are changing their policies to offer greater flexibility. This new flexibility, including hybrid work, could impact the economy. One trend that Bloom sees: more outsourcing and offshoring in the service sectors. Now that business leaders know employees can work effectively without stepping foot in a physical office, Bloom says many companies are thinking about tapping more work from overseas.

Bloom also offers actionable, data-based advice for leaders—including why we should think twice about traditional workplace customs like handshakes.

Also in this episode, you’ll hear from Emily Sterken, an executive communications senior manager at Microsoft, who shares a few lessons she learned in a year and a half filled with changes at work and in life.

WorkLab is a place for experts to share their insights and opinions. As students of the future of work, Microsoft values inputs from a diverse set of voices. That said, the opinions and findings of the experts we interview are their own and do not reflect Microsoft’s own research or positions.

You can follow the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s a transcript of the Episode 4 conversation.

81%: The Impact of Flexible Work on the Economy

Elise Hu (host), Nicholas Bloom (guest); Mary Melton (correspondent), Emily Sterken (guest)


ELISE HU: This is WorkLab , the podcast from Microsoft, where we’ll hear from leaders and scientists about the surprising research and data that’s transforming the way we work. I’m your host, Elise Hu.

NICHOLAS BLOOM: In 2030 work from home, I suspect we’ll be in Star Wars -style holograms talking to each other.