Having reached the mid-point of 2021, it may be finally safe to say that we’re beginning to see the end of the tunnel when it comes to COVID-19. Regional lockdowns across Canada and the U.S.A. have gradually given way to rising vaccination numbers, providing us with hope that a return to normalcy may be coming sooner than expected.
But for all the talk of returning to back square one, it appears as though some things are here to stay. For the modern business office, this means one thing: hybrid workplaces look to become a part of our “new normal.”
It’s a trend that has had a massive influence across multiple industries. Workers that stayed away from the office throughout the pandemic are deciding to stay put at home and, in return, offices are planning to accommodate them.
Nearly two-thirds of remote-working respondents have admitted in a Canadian poll they wouldn’t be or aren’t sure they’d be comfortable returning to the workplace. Meanwhile, this sentiment is equally complemented by 52 percent of American office workers who say they don’t want to return to the office full-time when the pandemic comes to an end. At the same time, one in five businesses are already implementing a hybrid work environment, of which half say they will be ready by the summer.
It used to be that a hybrid workplace was one that offered a mix of office and cubicles; now, the term is used to describe an office that combines in-office and remote working. Since different offices each have their own requirements, a hybrid workplace could be one that contains desk space for intermittent workers, or is solely devoted to hosting meetings and collaborative efforts.
And that’s where the challenge of hybrid workplaces comes in. How do you adopt a hybrid workplace for your office? What are the things you need to consider? Let’s run through a few factors:
Because it could mean so many different things, it’s up to you to define your version of a hybrid workplace, something you’ll determine by weighing your business needs.
- What responsibilities are required of your workers?
- Which type of tasks can they perform remotely, and which are required to be done in-office?
- Can your office accommodate them on a walk-in basis, or do they need to adhere to a strict schedule?
Trying to manage a roster of employees that aren’t even in the same place poses a formidable challenge for human resources. Prioritize your needs to decide if a hybrid workplace is feasible for your office.
With social distancing practices still in place at this time, offices need to be aware of the spaces in which they put their employees. A hybrid office may contain less people arriving for work, but any social distancing efforts will be defeated if employees cluster together in the same cramped space.
One solution to this problem is hot desking, the practice where an office replaces permanent offices and cubicles with temporary work spaces. In this way, your office can create seating plans with ample space in between employees, providing the safe work environment employees need on a day-to-day basis.
As a new concept, it may take some getting used to. Permanent employees may feel strange packing up all their belongings when finishing work at the end of a day, but doing so will make the space available for whichever worker needs this space the next day.
To create an adaptable workplace, you’ll need adaptable furniture. A hybrid workplace needs more flexibility than a traditional office in order to suit changing conditions and fluctuating employee numbers.
Modular furniture is great for this purpose. It is able to be easily scaled up or down, is largely future proof, and can meet the needs of new users whenever the occasion arises.
Among the biggest questions an office has to answer when it comes to hybrid workplaces has to do with office culture. What kind of office are you? What does your office mean to your employees?
Hybrid workplaces can be especially appealing to workers looking to balance their work and private life; we’ve previously talked about how employees can become more productive in a relaxed and informal setting. And yet, workers can feel alienated and isolated if they feel they aren’t being heard.
If you’re looking to adopt a hybrid workplace, you need to be sure to maintain strong communications with your employees; this will ensure that productivity remains high, but also that management remains aware of worker satisfaction. In the absence of face-to-face contact, plan for alternatives such as online social interactions.
A hybrid workplace can be very rewarding to converts interested in setting up a new way of doing business. But, before you take the plunge into this new type of office, be sure you’re clear on what a hybrid workplace means to your business.
Are you interested in having your own hybrid workplace? Contact us and let us know how we can help!