In an incredibly challenging time for organisations across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about change aplenty for the workplace. In particular, with many employees now seeking a hybrid approach to working, that is, a home-office combined model of working, the workplace is beginning to look very different to that of a few years ago.
A survey in May found that 55% of US-based workers desire a hybrid approach to working while, in the UK, it is expected that home working is set to double in figures compared to pre-pandemic; an immense 68% of 18–34-year-olds believed that they would prefer their work if they were able to work remotely. Yet this approach to work has been at play for some time. Back in 2017, Y-Pulse Marketing conducted a study with Millennial workers and found flexibility to be a recurring theme. The more recent transition with Covid-19 and its associated lockdown measures has simply accelerated this shift.
Organisations are now seeking ways to incorporate a structural pattern for hybrid working within their workspace and, in many cases, existing areas can be allocated and used accordingly.
It is likely that you will be downsizing your workspace due to a reduction in footfall, so it’s a good idea to consider a redesign. For example, you may wish to incorporate a huddle room for one-to-one sessions, a private desk or booth for focussed work and a conference room for a group event. Bear in mind that meetings can also be accessed remotely, so home-based workers can be included when necessary.
So, let’s take a look at the five tips that will assist you with your restructure.
Communication is essential across the workplace and all of your employees need to receive the same message. Whether your staff are working in the office or working remotely, your current processes need to be adjusted so that they are accessible to all. Face-to-face sessions are invaluable but not always possible, so for this reason it is important to utilise alternative strategies. Staff meetings and sessions can still take place in the office while technology allows for remote staff to be incorporated from afar.
Creating a positive work culture is a great way of ensuring employees feel a sense of belonging to their workplace. Most organisations choose to invest in their staff and there is no better way to do this than to incorporate staff birthday events, sport-based events, skill-sharing and even distributing awards for excellence. You can also offer remote ‘after-hours meet ups’ that allow remote and office-based staff some important downtime with their colleagues. Whatever you choose, it’s a great way to invest in your team and remind them of their value.
Your management style is likely to differ with hybrid working and for those that work remotely, a great deal of mutual trust is required. Realistic goal setting and clear objectives are important; it is advisable to send this message to all staff alike. Regular catch-ups with office and home-based employees are advisable, this way you remain consistent without demonstrating bias or favouritism.
In order to create a space that is fit for purpose, you need to revaluate your existing space. The hybrid working method has great potential and can be sufficiently executed to cater for all. Factors such as background noise can be highly damaging to productivity, so it is advisable to take this into consideration when allocating space. Furniture is an ideal solution for this as it offers agile partitioning without the requirement for construction work. In other words, you can cost-effectively create office divisions to keep your staff happy. You can choose to support the more introverted staff with smaller, quieter areas such as partitions or acoustic pods. For the more extroverted members, staggered collaboration areas or open plan panelled areas are effective.
One of the most important factors of all is the general wellbeing of your staff. Remote working is ideal for focus-based work but can also be isolating. In turn, productivity can subsequently decrease. Likewise, too much time at the office grants minimal flexibility, and high anxiety levels and can also affect productivity. For these reasons alone, it is fair to predict that hybrid working will help alleviate stress-related anxiety as it eliminates a ‘one size fits all’ approach that has been all too common in previous times. Employees will have greater autonomy and flexibility which is likely to elevate wellbeing and, subsequently, increase productivity.
The concept of making changes can be daunting, but a new organisational framework will offer you peace of mind that you are supporting your staff appropriately. With a study in July finding that a mere 9% of staff wish to go back to the office full time, hybrid working is definitely here to stay. This transition is likely to be for the greater good; productivity levels will increase as employee wellbeing rises.
Whether you are looking to downsize your office or simply repurpose your existing space, Zentura can assist you with your requirements. We can help you to create a thoughtful, productive and appealing space that both serves and appeals to a wide range of personalities.