Not many of us had heard the term ‘hybrid working’ before 2020. Sure, we might have worked from home the odd day or two over the course of a year, but splitting our time between home and the office on a more frequent basis just didn’t seem feasible.
The Coronavirus pandemic has completely redefined how we feel about hybrid working and proved that not only is it feasible – it can be hugely beneficial. In fact, 75% of employees in UK now say they’d like to adopt a hybrid working model* (that’s over three quarters of your workforce!).
That doesn’t mean the office should be neglected. Quite the opposite in fact. The role of the office is now more important than ever when it comes to hybrid working.
Of course, changes to working patterns and practices will inevitably mean changes to workplace design. If fewer staff members are in the office on a full-time basis, less space is needed for desks and other types of workstations and as a result, many businesses are redesigning their offices to re-purpose their space to increase collaboration and enhance company culture.
We know people are our biggest assets and their happiness directly impacts performance, so they should be at the heart of any workplace redesign.
We like to think of the hybrid office as the set of The Crystal Maze television show. There should be a mix of specialist and multi-purpose zones, each with their own unique characteristics that allow different people to excel in different ways that they feel comfortable; either on their own or as part of a team.
These zones may include ‘Zoom rooms’ for private or group video calls, breakout and collaboration areas, chill-out or activity zones, alongside more traditional desk and working areas that are designed around natural light which has a positive impact on physical and mental health.
Covid hasn’t gone away, and even if it does there may be new viruses that emerge, but we are much better equipped to deal with them in the workplace by:
The office and company leaders also play a vital role in ensuring that staff working remotely, be it one day a week or five, can do their work effectively, are still supported and feel connected to the company’s values and ethos.
Good connectivity and the technology they use to communicate with other staff or clients in the office and actually do their work are vital for supporting a hybrid working model.
Similarly, employers should make a proactive effort in ensuring team members feel connected with one another and the company. This could include regular video meetings that are not work-related but wellbeing related, or something as simple as organising social events.
Finally, have a home or remote working policy that ensures employees adopt some of the practices being used in the new office to ensure a comfortable and safe working environment such as proper workstation setup, natural and adequate light, regular breaks, fresh air and social interaction. If possible, provide a dedicated budget for staff to improve their home office setup.
YouGov Survey 2021