The aftermath of Covid has left an indelible mark on the modern workplace in the form of the hybrid office. This model essentially tries to balance in-office work with employees working remotely from home – a feat previously unpalatable to many employers. However, with tensions as they are, the hybrid office model has forced its way into business, and it’s not all that bad.
The trick with adapting your office to suit a hybrid model is knowing how to balance out key aspects of how your employees work. There isn’t a lot of difference between in-office and at-home workers, and many of them flip-flop between coming in for a few days a week, and staying put the rest of the time. Here’s how to create the perfect space for your hybrid workers.
UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID OFFICE
As mentioned before, a hybrid office is little more than a workplace that accommodates remote and in-office workers. The actual structure of your office need not change too much. In fact, you may be able to capitalize on the hybrid model to optimize foot traffic, maximize space, and enjoy a few other benefits at the same time.
Remote-focused tech companies were the ones who really pushed the hybrid model in the early days, but it wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic that tens of thousands of companies were forced to implement it for the sake of social distancing. Now, they’ve become advantageous tools that help make for a more flexible workforce.
RE-EXAMINE YOUR SPACE
The abandonment of the mid-90s office cubicle environment paved the way for replacements, such as the open office concept. From there, the hybrid model emerged as something of an offshoot, and both involved freeing up office square footage in order to maximize space. For employees who work in the office, the approach tends to shift towards balancing private and quiet workspaces, as well as large collaborative areas commonly used for team meetings and an inspirational dynamic.
LAY OUT YOUR OFFICE FURNITURE CORRECTLY
The space that can be saved by jettisoning dedicated office workstations and desks can be used to make the team more versatile, as well. For instance, hybrid workers may spend only 2 or 3 days in the actual office, which means “hot desks” (desks that can be used by more than one person) become very practical. You won’t need to spend a lot of money on dedicated desks that are only used a fraction of the time. This allows the office to open up more, paving the way for the use of whiteboards, large display screens and other items that can make the workplace feel more proficient and versatile. Plus, less foot traffic means less cramping and claustrophobia, and more room for employees to stretch their arms out and relax.
THE RIGHT COMMUNICATION FRAMEWORK
Hybrid employees will spend a lot of time at home, and that means taking advantage of hardware and software solutions that can keep them in the loop. Sometimes, Email isn’t enough, and many companies utilize software such as Monday.com, Slack or other digital communication methods ideally suited for teams.
That means you’ll need the right hardware in your office. Make sure your teams have the right tech devices required for voice/video conference calls, right down to internet and connectivity options for TVs and other displays. It may seem daunting, and a little irritating at first, but once you get into the groove of it, you’ll quickly find that teams can communicate very well, even if they’re not all physically present in the same room.
PLAN OUT PRIVATE AREAS
Many employees who take advantage of the hybrid work model are still jittery about Covid-19, and they may have trouble adjusting when they head back into the office. Others may be so used to it that they need to rebuild their social skills in the wake of lockdowns and social distancing measures.
For that reason, plan your office space to accommodate those workers who come in a few days each week. Add in private areas that can be used for workers who need to get away from the bustle of the central office hub. Over time, they may overcome their apprehensions and habits, but even so, it’s good practice to have these areas already set up. Many employees need moments of peace and quiet to concentrate on complex tasks, and it’s never a bad idea to let them escape to small fortresses of solitude once in a while.
The hybrid office model is a great way for companies to attract new talent, while retaining existing employees. The flexibility of a better work/life balance is very attractive to modern workers, and with a bit of preparedness and planning, you can capitalize on all the benefits of such a model.
For more information on how to craft the perfect hybrid office space, we invite you to contact us. Sensyst keeps up-to-date with all the shifting office design trends, and we know exactly how to leverage the ever-evolving open office and hybrid office models for maximum benefit.