If we cast our minds back to January 2020, businesses had no real idea what was to come. The Covid-19 pandemic threw the world into chaos, and offices certainly weren’t immune. One of the key trends to emerge during the pandemic has been working from home, or remote working. With social distancing requirements making the old office layout almost impossible, the switch to working from home was forced upon many.
However, 12 months on we’re seeing more and more businesses re-thinking their current setup. For many, working from home and flexible work arrangements worked well, so they’re now looking at ways to make it a feature moving forward. As such, we’re seeing the rise of the hybrid workplace.
The modern office promotes working from home
A hybrid workplace is one that promotes working from home as well as on-site collaboration. For example, certain teams or employees may work from home permanently. Some may work at the office full-time. Others may split their time between the two. One of the benefits of a hybrid workplace is a lower space requirement. Businesses can reduce their overheads by moving away from the traditional model of paying high rent for a large office space.
So, if you’re thinking of downsizing your office space or reconfiguring to maximise the potential of your existing office, here are some things to consider.
Different office configurations
In a hybrid workplace, there are generally less people in the office on a daily basis. If people split their time between home and the office, it doesn’t make sense to hold a permanent desk for every staff member. One of the ways to reconfigure your office is known as hot-desking. Full-time staff may still have their own designated desk, but the part-time attendees share desks. If you only ever have 10 people in the office at any given time, it’s a waste of money and resources to maintain 20 permanent desks.
However, you still need meeting rooms, possibly separate offices for management, and all the other amenities an office requires. This is why co-working spaces are becoming so popular among businesses looking to save on overheads without sacrificing facilities.
Redesign the office to suit your work style
It’s important to make your office work for you. The nature of your work determines your work style. For example, a call-centre style operation is usually very open plan. An accountancy firm likely requires individual offices. So, when redesigning your office space, keep in mind your work style. It’s great to save money and maximise your space, but it’s ineffective if the new design doesn’t suit the way your teams work.
Workplace satisfaction and employee engagement go together
There’s no denying that employee engagement is a huge part of running a successful business. That’s precisely one of the reasons many companies are moving more permanently to a flexible work model. Happy staff perform better and produce better results. They’re more likely to give a little extra to ensure the job is done to the highest standard.
What you may not know, however, is that workplace satisfaction plays a key role in how engaged a staff member feels. By workplace satisfaction, we mean the level of satisfaction with the building and office design. Do they feel they can collaborate well? Do they have their own space when they need to focus? This is another reason why your staff should have a say in how your office is redesigned.
Set reasonable sharing expectations
When you use a hot-desk arrangement, there needs to be reasonable expectations in place. It’s important that people don’t feel rushed to get out of a desk by a certain time. Some ways to avoid issues is to assign one desk between two staff members if they work opposite days in the office. Provide lockers or storage areas for people to keep their things if they’re using multiple desks throughout a day.
How about workplaces with even more flexible conditions? For example, if staff can attend the office or not, with no set pattern. To avoid conflict over desks and other facilities, you might implement a booking system, the same way you would for meeting rooms.
Invest in the right technology
Finally, technology is the key to any hybrid workplace. For people to work at home and still be able to collaborate effectively, you need the right software. As you’re redesigning your office and workplace, consider cloud-based software that staff can access from anywhere.