Work as we know it has been forever changed. The companies that have thrived have shown unprecedented flexibility and adaptability. We now know that for many organizations, the functions of work can be done just about anywhere. Workers rose to the challenge and created home offices quickly. Both parties adopted a work from anywhere mentality. Because of these rapid adaptations, work continued in many sectors despite the shutdowns and mandates. Now, after an extended period of working from home, workers are divided. Employees found that there were some clear benefits to their new working from home arrangements. These team members wished to continue working from home. On the other hand, some employees couldn’t wait to return to the office. Is a hybrid workplace the solution?
What is a Hybrid Workplace?
A hybrid workplace creates flexibility and choice in where employees work. This can and will look different for each organization. What percentage of employees work from home? How many days of the week do they work from home? Are all employees at work at least one day a week? Do all employees work from home a part of the week? These are just some of the variables that can allow your organization to create a hybrid model that will keep your team feeling safe, autonomous, and thriving.
Hybrid work is more than creating flexibility for employees.
This solution can create more space in your office and allow for your teams to have fewer contact points throughout the day. Businesses still need to focus on creating distance while implementing health and safety measures to keep continuity at work. Although having part of your team at home might seem to disrupt that, it is actually a great way to ensure more of your team can keep working. But more importantly, that your team can stay healthy and safe.
When not all of your team members are in the building throughout the week, hot-desking becomes an option. This is a more flexible approach to the standard designated desks and allows employees to move throughout the office and choose a workspace that most fits their current project or mood. With part-time office workers, you can dramatically reduce the space needed to accommodate your team and get more creative with the layout.
Is Social Distancing Office Furniture Here to Stay?
The pandemic has caused many organizations to implement creative furniture solutions that focus on creating space and barriers to keep their teams safe. These solutions also had an added benefit. Most of the screens and barriers that were put in place actually helped create areas with reduced noise and space for more focused work. As variants continue to make the news, this is not the time to make a change to your social distancing office furniture layout.
According to Dina Weinstein, “One effect of the pandemic is a changed sense of space.” This shift is reflected in new trends in interior design and additionally what is being taught at the university level to students studying design and architecture. This shift in space and distance will continue to be implemented even as the effects of this pandemic fade. Continuing to provide additional space in your workplace is a great reason to consider a hybrid workplace.
Creating a Hybrid Workplace
The first place to start when considering implementing this workplace solution is to talk with your team. The workforce is in a state of unrest. Many employees have left or chosen not to return to the workplace in any capacity after the pandemic. And the workers that remain have felt the added burden of being understaffed and overworked. Now is the time to access what workplace arrangements would increase their job satisfaction. Many employees were anxious to come back, but others weren’t. Finding trends in your workplace can help shape how the hybrid model might work for your organization.
Create new ways for your team to collaborate and improve the employee experience for your team no matter where they are working from.
The next step is to take what you have learned and find out what hybrid model will work best for your team. The first option is some employees work from home exclusively, while others work in the office exclusively. The second option, is all employees work from home some days and in the office other days. And the third and most flexible option allows for a combination of both working arrangements. Are there projects that call for all hands on deck? Is space an issue requiring all employees to work from home at least part of the time? Do you have some team members who strongly prefer working remotely, or alternatively, strongly prefer the office? Answering these questions can help create a hybrid model that will work for your team.
The last step is to ensure that your office is accommodated properly to ensure a seamless remote/in-office working relationship. Technology is essential. The only touchpoints or visibility the remote team will have is through virtual interactions, so be sure to integrate video functionality into any meeting and conference areas. In fact, as the hybrid work model continues to be adopted, 98% of people say that meetings in the future will involve remote participants. Additionally, with workers potentially shifting from one workspace to the next throughout the day or week, creating seating with built-in charging capabilities will allow for effortless mobility.
Adjust, Adapt and Thrive
The workplace has been changing and evolving throughout the last century. The businesses that will continue to rise to the top will adjust and adapt quickly to these changes. Collaboration will continue to be an essential part of a successful business, especially in a more distributed workforce. Embedding these connections not only into your workplace but into your company culture will ensure that this distribution doesn’t mean out of sight out of mind.
But Hybrid work is more than creating flexibility for employees. This is a chance for organizations to stop and look at how work gets down and make changes for the better. It’s a chance to create new ways for your team to collaborate and improve the employee experience for your team no matter where they are working from. This shift will require a strategy that goes beyond this year. Address any remote working barriers today. Maintain a fully engaged workforce by ensuring the needed technology and collaboration software are available.
The key to an effective hybrid workplace is flexibility. So creating a plan and adapting as the needs of your team shift and change is essential. The new normal may be new each week. And how businesses operate might look different next year. But to thrive, businesses will adjust, today tomorrow, and in the years to come.
Design your post-Covid office today!