Companies and businesses have been struggling to manage the dynamic needs of pandemic waves as they adapt to business continuity plans. As most operations turned to a remote mode, some companies have coped well while others are on different points of a spectrum managing business.
Some employees claim they miss the social connect and feeling of being wanted. While a few want to return to the office, others are happy with remote working. Large business houses like Google, Microsoft are listening to insights from employee surveys as they try getting business back to pre-covid times. With changing scenarios on vaccinations across countries, companies have adapted to a hybrid working office, the 'new-normal.'
Managing a hybrid workplace design that keeps all three segments of your workforce happy can be challenging. These three segments are in-office, remote, and hybrid employees. In-office employees work critical roles and hence need to be in the office every day of the week for the working week. Manager discretion is advised when they may be granted remote working on a need basis. Similarly, remote employees are those whose roles don't require them to come to the office; they can easily manage their roles from home. Hybrid employees may need to get into the office two to three days a week, depending upon the nature of their work and work priorities.
As you design a hybrid office, the need of each set of employees from their workspace varies. As a result, those working remote/hybrid work schedules and timings may differ from those working in the office at a high level. Companies that had deployed remote working before covid were better prepared to tackle the challenges of remote working.
As you look to design a hybrid workplace, what are some of the considerations to be prioritized?
What Will The New Hybrid Workplace Look Like?
As you envision what the new normal office looks like, there are various thoughts. But, primarily, technology and automation will replace most manual touchpoints to reduce the spread of any infection, let alone pandemic.
With the social distancing norms, the common practice of large office spaces will be replaced by distant seating; limited food and beverage services or extended timings to reduce large gatherings; perhaps the addition of shifts to reduce employee inflow at any particular time inside the office; and more. Optimization of space and resource usage will yet be the primary planning driver, amongst other factors.
Leesman, a London-based consulting firm and leader in measuring and analyzing employee experiences at the workplace, published a report, “Workplace 2021: Appraising future-readiness.” As per their report, before the pandemic cripple business operations, 54% of the global workforce had little or no experience working from home remotely.
Top 5 Hybrid Workplace Design Considerations
Most companies focus on providing flexibility and a choice of seating spaces for an increase in employees’ productivity. This necessitates that hybrid and on-site/in-office employees can easily schedule, allocate space for themselves (like hot desks), and use office amenities as they prefer. Facility management roles are expected to strengthen to being the spine of the office as hybrid offices kick in.
Successful companies are agile, encourage technology and automation, are adaptive in their approach, and more.
Here are the top five hybrid workplace design principles that can help you plan a hybrid workplace. Additionally, don’t miss our review of the hybrid office concept.
The need for secure areas to manage the confidentiality of the working areas is a prime factor in the facilities design managers' minds. With a hybrid office employee coming to the office, you will need to plan for open spaces for them to log into. Automation hybrid workplace design will take the lead to manage log-ins, find, reserve, and use hot desks across offices. An innovative office chair design may sparkle ideas from employees.
With hybrid workers transiting between remote offices, on-site offices, and those visiting client offices, you will need strict IT systems to ensure enterprise-level security and privacy.
2. Employee Safety
Automation and technology will be the key factors that are built in to reduce human touchpoints. From printers that don't need a log-in when you reach the printer to print documents to automatic doors and eye scanners to allow entry into various office spaces, your office will need it all.
Offices are already seeing flexible dining spaces, office modules, and more. The need to convert air-conditioned offices to have a pour of fresh air, where possible, is running high.
3. Technology and Office Equipment
As you deploy a hybrid working model in your office, you will need to ensure fairness to those who work remotely and on the hybrid model for all IT technology and tools. You will need to provide the same level of employee experience. Ensuring that all employees have access to the same collaborative tools will ensure fairness at hybrid working.
Additionally, remote and hybrid workers will need a few extras like a headset (noise-canceling ones), provision of internet, office supplies, and more.
Hybrid employees will have a choice to schedule their days in the office. Some may choose to use a different location; for example, Microsoft allows their employees to log in from any office globally. In addition, hybrid employees can take advantage of assigned or open seating as they come into the office as they need. This choice can help them work with a focus at an individual level or be collaborative when working in a team.
4. Workplaces as Social Hubs
A hybrid workplace concept is designed to support collaboration at an individual and team level. You don’t need to sacrifice one for another. As employees seek flexibility in the workplace and how they work, many companies are looking ahead at productivity and output from employees, and hence are planning to meet employee needs.
Considering both formal and informal work environments, you will notice a mixed hub of spaces. This will cater to the premise that employees have unique working styles and schedules. Flexible seating will allow employees to choose from formal and individual spaces to informal social teams to gather and collaborate for the company's goals. Furniture, including modern office chairs in hybrid workplace design, would have been upgraded.
You may find large offices with black office desk, now replaced with seating at a distance. Unlike pre-covid, timings to be at the office will not be restricted to allow employees to work when they feel like.
A hybrid workplace is here to stay. The easier you make hybrid workplace design for employees to be comfortable and be productive, the higher are the chances of your business's success.
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