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7 Considerations for a Better Hybrid Work Space

18 December 2022

Tech visionaries and people in academia have been talking about the possibilities of remote workspaces since the 1980s. They were adamant about their belief that workers in wealthy, industrialized countries could easily and effectively work from home without any loss in productivity. Furthermore, they emphasized the fact that at least 80% of the workforce would prefer working from a remote location, but their beliefs were considered absurd and impossible – until COVID-19 left us no choice but to start working from home.

The pandemic was destructive and a truly scary time, but the one good thing it did was prove to the world just how effective remote and hybrid work environments could be. After the past two years of working from home, employers and employees have both realized how remote and hybrid workspaces are more beneficial, not just for the business but also for personal performance, work-life balance, and the overall reduced costs.

Of course, companies can't just abandon their offices and shift the entire work model to a remote space. A better way to go about it is developing hybrid workspaces that enable employees to collaborate, connect, and perform at their best, whether they're working from the office or even a remote location.

Today, let's discuss some essential considerations that will help you create highly functional workspaces of the future.

Hybrid Work isn't a New Phenomenon

The term 'hybrid work' might be new, but the concept or phenomenon most certainly isn't. Even before the pandemic hit us, most Americans weren't working from the office 100% of the time. Gensler's Workplace Survey, conducted in 2020, showed that the American workforce was in the office for 81% of their work, and the rest was spent working from remote locations. Moreover, workers at the most innovative companies in the US spent just 67% of their time working from the office, which comes out to around 3.3 days each week. For innovative companies, the office is just one of the many places where work can be done.

The rise of hybrid workspaces was also evident in China before the pandemic. Since 2016, employees have reported spending only about 55-59% of their time in the office. They further reported working from co-working spaces, client sites, alternative offices, and other non-office locations around 22% of the time.

These statistics show us that hybrid workspaces aren't anything new, but it has become significantly more widespread now. As companies around the work now 'return to the office,' employers and employees both now have a different perspective of what that means. Returning to the office no longer implies a 100% from-office work week. Instead, it just shows that companies are back to working full-time and at full capacity, even with their workforce still working from home and other off-site locations.

Changed Role of the Office

Not only have the physical workspaces changed, but even the reasons to return to work and the actual role of the office are now different from the pre-pandemic times. The main reason why people want to return to the office is to be able to work in person with their colleagues or team. Moreover, informal connections and being able to socialize with team members were cited among the top 3 reasons why people wanted to return to work, with "to focus on my work" ranking in the top four.

On the other hand, people prefer working from their home offices when they need to fulfill deep concentrative tasks. The common perspective is that remote work is better for work that demands minimal distractions and maintains focus while working from the office is better for teamwork, collaboration, and socialization. People are even heading to the office for 'a break' from the rigorous work they do remotely.

With this massive change in the role of the office, employers now need to focus on the design implications of such social workspaces. It is important to rethink the work experience within the office based on how people will use it – to socialize and collaborate. Offices of today need meeting spaces, brainstorming areas, and rooms for people to connect informally.

The Need for a Dynamic Work Ecosystem

Top performers within the American workforce recognize and emphasize the importance of a dynamic work ecosystem that offers all the essentials within the office building(s). This is particularly true for the Gen Z workforce, as they are accustomed to using the entire college or university campus for collaborative learning, individual work, socializing, and everything in between. They are coming into the workforce with the expectation of receiving similar office spaces, and it is important to consider this when planning out your hybrid workspace.

Your hybrid workspace will need to provide a variety of different types of spaces for deep, concentrative work, socializing, community spaces to build relationships, and areas to access mentorship. Having quiet rooms for reflecting and concentrating helps improve productivity levels in employees as well.

If your capital allows it, you should consider developing a corporate campus or an ecosystem of different spaces for work. Equip this campus with amenities, outdoor areas, and easily accessible conference rooms. Having terraces, rooftops, and other activated spaces will also help bring your hybrid office to life.

Investment in Employee Well-being

The current workforce places great emphasis on their well-being and work-life balance. People have finally recognized the fact that they perform better when they feel good, instead of overworking and forcing themselves through another late night in the office at the expense of their health.

The pandemic further revealed the importance that should be given to the employees' mental and physical well-being. This, in turn, is giving rise to ergonomic workspaces which are specially designed with employee well-being in mind. Ergonomic workspaces aren't just better for your employees' health, but they also encourage better performance with higher levels of productivity through more efficient working.

To further improve your hybrid workspace, you can help employees break out of their sedentary office lifestyles. Most employees struggle with setting aside time to head to the gym or go for an evening jog. Your office redesign could bring the gym to them through FlexiSpot's Under Desk Bikes!

The Under Desk Bike is a truly innovative office design product, specially developed with the needs of the modern workforce in mind. It allows employees to work out while working formally, making it a disturbance-free way of making the most efficient use of your time in the office.

Implement Connected and Collaborative Solutions

Designing a hybrid workspace isn't just about having the right technology and conferencing space available for your employees. It also requires you to carefully plan out collaborative solutions for work and brainstorm on how your workers will develop workplace relationships.

With the workspace being more flexible in the hybrid model, it brings in the unpredictability of who will be in the office on any given day. This disrupts people's chances of working together and socializing among themselves. As the employer, it is your responsibility to make it easier for your workforce to collaborate and communicate effectively for mutual benefit.

You should consider integrating collaboration-based technological features like personal chat rooms, calendar integration, occupancy counting, etc., to help workers determine which days they'd want to work from the office. Moreover, room booking and meeting space selection can further help them find and collaborate with their colleagues in the newly transformed workspace.

Importance of Flexibility

Continuing on the importance of collaboration, another great way to encourage team members to work together is by limiting individual workstations and replacing them with smart work solutions. Having hot desks and dynamic workstations offers employees flexibility and frees up areas within the office for collaboration. It creates room for meeting spaces without needing any expansions and increases footfall and movement across the office.

Fostering a Workspace of Equity and Inclusivity

Lastly, employers need to understand there is no space for inequality or prejudice in the modern workspace, be it hybrid, remote, or completely in-office. The best way to hone a culture of collaborative solutions for work is to realize that your workspace should be a melting pot of different ethnicities, races, genders, and generations, all working together towards a common company goal. It is the best way to invest in your company's future and make the most of your highly talented workforce.

The office environment plays an essential role in creating a sense of belonging for people from all walks of life. It allows them to build trust and create strong relationships that create highly productive teams for a better flow of work. So, designing a workspace that creates room for an increased level of acceptance and unison doesn't just improve employee and client experiences; it also offers your business a competitive edge in the market. The value of an office of the future will largely be determined by its level of equity and inclusivity, and you can make sure your company is first in line!