The Hybrid Workplace: Why You Should Rethink Your Workplace Strategy
18 Nov 2020
The workplace is undergoing change and its impact on organizations and office space strategy is undeniable. The ongoing health crisis and the extended time in the home office have accelerated the necessity to provide a workplace that not only is safer but also enables more creativity and productivity. Recent surveys have shown a shift in office workers expectations of the office space. First, they expect returning to an office that is conducive to safety and well-being. And second, they expect the workplace to support new ways of working that are more productive, collaborative and flexible. The time is now for businesses to rethink their short-term and long-term workplace strategy.
The new hybrid workplace
We see now the emergence of a new hybrid workplace – a blend of analog and virtual kind of work collaboration, teamwork and meetings. For example, many companies are now operating on alternate shifts with some of their team members working from home (WFH), while others are sitting in a less densified office. With this new normal, rethinking your office space set up for remote participation is becoming more and more critical. Hybrid work environments that can easily flex and take on new functions will be on the rise. As the office’s physical environment integrates virtual participants remotely, we will see increasing demand for retooling workplaces that combine virtual and in-person collaboration.
The social connection and curated collaboration
Despite the fact that people may express more desire to combine WFH and work from the office than they did before the pandemic, the office space is still essential to reinforce company culture and promote talent development and cannot replace the level of trust and collaboration that’s built through face-to-face interaction. Now that workplaces are reopening, it is time to assess why your employees want to return to the office. The rapid adoption of virtual collaboration technologies does not take away people’s need for socializing with their colleagues. Now more so than ever, the workplace is becoming an environment that encourages collaboration, reinforces the company culture, fosters innovation and inspires a sense of purpose. Whether through focus work or social activities, the goal is to create synergies between people when they are back in the office. Dedicated health and wellness zones, social areas, indoor-outdoor micro meeting points, informal touchdown areas and segregable neighbourhoods are all space strategies to plan your workflow.
The importance of autonomy and choice
What we’ve learnt from the WFH experience is that people are now accustomed to moving from their desk to the dining table or living room area; they self manage their time and comfort and incorporate downtime to rest or get some fresh air. This level of choice and flexibility will need to be replicated within the workplace, giving employees the freedom of arranging their day and choosing their work setting depending on their preferences and the different type of work they are doing throughout the day. While workplaces adapt to de-densification due to the six-feet rule and a shrinking footprint, this will inevitably create more opportunities for alternative work settings as opposed to traditional static workstations.
The corporate office space will not go through a radical paradigm shift and the fundamentals of the office culture will survive. What will change is how organizations optimise their spaces to cater to new, hybrid and more flexible ways of working, with less density and more spaces for collaboration and social interactions.
Regardless of the adversities we face, ID21’s expertise in workplace transformation will ensure the best use of your space that will enhance the well-being of every employee.