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Lessons Learned on the Path to Developing Hybrid Workspaces

20 February 2024

It's easy to mistakenly believe that hybrid work is nothing more than a combination of office and remote work. While that may be correct in theory, in practice, we need to think of it as a whole new method of functioning.

It necessitates forethought and focus. It also isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Many people attempted to work online during the start of the pandemic when most workplaces turned remote overnight.

During this time, coworkers' daily coffee chats at the coffee station were rapidly missed and couldn't be recreated via a video conference.

This also caused culture shock since the pandemic changed how meetings were conducted, how new employees were onboarded, or how training sessions were conducted.

A new set of issues arose with the return to the workplace and the combination of remote and office working.

There were new equality and inclusion issues to contend with, and individual preference swiftly cranked up. Suddenly, the video call rules that organizations established over the last two years no longer worked.

In our opinion, the hybrid should be treated as a distinct mode of operation. It's significantly more complex than working face-to-face, and it's not a substitute for remote work.

People, work procedures, habits, cultural traditions, and intended outcomes must all be carefully considered.

Agency Is Provided via Offices

Even big firms like EY have their in-house workplace design specialists who've worked on several projects over the past few decades and know how to maximize the advantages of having an agency in the office.

A variety of areas are common in even the most basic of workplaces, as they are intended to meet the demands of the people who work there.

An office could have separate workstations and conference rooms of various sizes available for group work or private meetings.

Outdoor workplaces, meditation areas, and schools or libraries, for example, may be included in specific plans. At-home situations typically don't allow for this flexibility when designing a workspace for a particular purpose.

When it comes to the future of office design, we now know it's all about making sure that the workplace model is tailored to the employees' specific needs, as well as incorporating some of the inherent collaborative characteristics of shared workplaces.

Mistakes Are Bound to Happen

No organization can start with hybrid work since there is no instruction manual. The boldest organizations are the ones who confess when they fall short and then take good moves ahead based on the information they have gained from their mistakes.

Due to strong pushback from employees, Amazon quickly eased its policy of returning to an office-centric culture. Google and Apple, on the other hand, had to rethink their ideas after a lot of internal resistance.

Including your employees in the discussion on how and where hybrid work will take place in your organization is critical, as seen by this finding.

While this may not guarantee a successful outcome, the trust you develop along the road will help you deal with the effect of change and adaptation as you go.

Not having the answers is a significant roadblock for leaders and organizations considering hybrid work. If you don't know where you're going, it isn't easy to take a big step forward.

Therefore, humility and open contact channels with your people are even more crucial.

Clear Communication Is Essential

You could be thinking that this isn't a new concept. With so many additional variables and aspects to consider, whether team members have chosen to stay at home, return to the office, or anywhere in between, there's a need for better communication.

Several companies have shown that the frequency with which managers contact remote team members may significantly impact employee retention and morale.

As the epidemic worsens, constant and predictable communication from the top of the organization to the rest of the team might become even more critical.

Most crucially, communication between coworkers has regained some of its former significance in many organizations.

Firms have realized that individual accountability is especially crucial regarding a work-life balance impacted by remote employment.

Things are done at various times and possibly at different intervals since offices no longer offer the structure they previously did, but they are nonetheless done.

The "team" mindset of team members motivated by personal autonomy and accountability is primarily to blame for many firms' lack of productivity losses when teams work remotely or in hybrid environments.

Hybrid Policies Should Outline How the Team Should Operate

Some employees were used to conducting at least some portions of their professions remotely before the epidemic dictated it was essential, as many businesses had projects across the country.

Dispersed teams were well-served by several companies with all or almost all of the necessary tools. Nevertheless, since nearly everyone on the team had been allocated to one of their locations and was working from there, these companies had the tools and the process but not a clear policy outlining business expectations.

The HR department of a design firm, Work Design, collaborated with the company's management after the epidemic went on for a year.

They began building a program in response to inquiries from their employees and to understand their requirements.

They devised a flexible arrangement geared to recognize and accept their individual tastes and work settings. They allowed their employees to work remotely, on a hybrid schedule, or in the office full-time.

They went for a policy that allowed employees to choose the type of work environment that best suited them while also offering a framework for evaluating team member distribution and associated needs was the basis for this program.

Even though they had a codified flexible work policy, they were still challenged to effectively utilize their office space once they had established the parameters for conducting business.

Even if technology has made it feasible to work from home, there are still numerous advantages to the office experience.

Keeping a Written Record Is Important

We may have all had false confidence when we used to work together face-to-face before the pandemic.

Everything was done from the office and involved eye contact, body language, and expressions keeping societal standards in place.

Moreover, we had the belief that knowledge and answers were just a tap away. The epidemic quickly silenced many of the signs we relied on to collaborate effectively.

Teams urgently needed to figure out how to interact, share, and deliver online. Many companies are now a patchwork of old and new methods of doing things as we move toward hybrid functioning.

So it's essential to keep track of everything. Hybrid work requires everyone to be given clear instructions on every area of their work together.

Documenting what hybrid work means for your business is an excellent place to start. Get down to the nitty-gritty before writing it down.

That way, everyone is on the same page about their expectations and how they may best contribute. There are several benefits to a documentation-first approach like an intranet or a company-wide staff handbook.

As a result, it serves as a basis for creating trust throughout the company. It doesn't matter where individuals are situated as long as they know exactly what to accomplish, how to do it, and where to get people and information to get the job done.

Interpersonal Connections Should Be Promoted

Distant employment affects a person's sense of community. As a result of the rise of remote labor, one major conclusion was that firms transitioned towards a transactional way of operation.

Process and production were prioritized above emotional support, which led to a sense of alienation among the workforce.

It's only a matter of time before we also see these same transactional tendencies in hybrid mode. It's easy to find proof of the Great Resignation, which we now call the Great People Shift.

People are fed up with being just cogs in the machine. As a result, they're demanding new conditions of employment that make them feel appreciated, seen, and supported.

The bottom line is that the employee experience must be re-contracted. It's long overdue, to be honest. The workplace of the future cannot be constructed with antiquated technologies.

That's an out-of-date view of what it means to be at work and the significance of our jobs in our lives. Our takeaway is that we must relearn old ideas about company operations, unlearn traditional leadership styles, place a higher value on psychological safety and well-being, and understand that we win by connecting rather than transacting with one another.

Wrapping Up

Here you go! These are our lessons learned on the path to developing hybrid workspaces. Regardless of your company's hybrid form, it's essential to remember that an organization's mission is responsible for the development of its employees and their experiences.

As you reflect on your hybrid path, consider how things could turn out differently if you start with a clear goal in mind. You may also consider using the correct accessories to boost your productivity when you work from home.

This is why we recommend the Black Metal Table Lamp from FlexiSpot since it is easily adjustable and comes with a 3-way touch switch and 9W-LED bulb to help you stay focused during work.