Tips for Implementing the Hybrid Office Model
Cars aren’t the only things going hybrid these days. The advent of COVID led to a rapid transformation in the way organizations performed their work. They responded by moving to a hybrid work model where most, if not all, employees worked from home. Today, as life begins to return to the “new normal,” these same organizations are grappling with redefining the hybrid office model to make it work for them in the long term. After all is said and done, this reconfiguration of the workplace should leave the employers and employees feeling empowered and ready to tackle the new hybrid office model.
So, what’s the definition of the new hybrid office? At its most basic, a hybrid workspace features a mix of employees in-office and working remotely. This hybrid model gives employees more autonomy in arranging their workday. Employees may not only get to choose where to work, but when to work to maximize their productivity.
A hybrid office looks different depending on the organization. For example, here are several different approaches:
- Most work is done remotely. In this model, offices are used for collaboration. The big challenge with this hybrid office design is how to sustain the corporate culture.
- Most work is done in-office. With most employees located in the office most of the time, the big challenge with this model becomes how to include remote employees.
- Role designation. Remote or in-office status is determined depending on the team or department an employee is associated with or the type of work an employee performs.
- Office occasional. Employees come to the office at designated times — may be working remotely for three days and two days in the office. This flexible work style blends individual work time with collaborative work time at the office.
A hybrid office design that features employees splitting their time between home and work, such as the office occasional method is anticipated to be the new norm. But whatever hybrid office design an organization selects will impact its company culture, office space, employee engagement, and usual work processes.
THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR HYBRID OFFICE DESIGN
The two most important aspects for hybrid office design success are flexibility — both from the organization and the employees — and support.
When designing a hybrid office for the long-term, organizations need to ask many questions such as:
- How often should remote employees come to the office?
- What positions need to work from the office?
- Will the executive team work from home or the office?
- Where will managers be most effective?
- If most employees and management work from the office, how will organizations make remote employees feel like they are valued members of the team?
- What kind of virtual communication tools and other tools will your employees need to do their work effectively?
- How does the physical office need to be reconfigured to meet the needs of a hybrid office? Will individual offices be retained?
Tips for an efficient hybrid office design
Now that restrictions are beginning to lift and life is beginning to get back to normal organizations have the opportunity to design what the new normal will look like for them. Here are some tips to help with your hybrid office design.
Utilize a company-wide survey. The place to begin is knowing your workforce, so ask your employees what they would prefer. According to a recent Salesforce survey, at least 64% of workers prefer to work outside of the office occasionally while another 37% want to continue working from home full-time. What is the typical age of the employees in your organization? Studies have shown that Gen X employees prefer to work from the office, citing that their productivity level decreased when working from home. Sending out a company-wide survey to your employees can help you get a handle on what your workforce prefers and the issues they have with different options.
Gather workplace analytics. Do you know what your employees’ peak meeting hours are? How many attendees are located onsite versus remote? Do you know what video conferencing services are used the most? Finding out these kinds of facts will help you create a more effective office design.
Switch to a focus on productivity rather than hours worked. Remote employees may find they are more productive working hours that differ from the typical 8 to 5. They may be able to accomplish their work in less time as well. Management needs to make a shift from valuing the number of hours worked to valuing how much employees accomplish during the hours they work.
Develop a strategy that’s fair to both office workers and remote workers. This is a tough one that requires a bit of thought. How do you ensure remote workers, who have less face-to-face time and are therefore less visible than their in-office peers, aren’t treated as second-class citizens when the management team and their peers are working from the office? A Gartner survey found that 64% of managers believe office workers are higher performers than remote workers and tend to give bigger raises to office workers. Remote workers also get passed over for promotions and plum assignments. But studies have shown that full-time remote workers are 5% more likely to be high performers than their in-office peers. One thing you can do is make all meetings virtual, so even in-office employees attend via their individual computers. That puts everyone on a level playing ground.
Ensure perks and benefits are separate but equal. Another thing to compare is the perks. Do in-office employees enjoy free lunches and snacks? Is there an on-site gym in-office employees can use? What about their office space? Do they have standing desks? Provide remote workers with alternate perks such as lunch allowances, occasional gift cards, portable standing desks. This can do wonders to increase morale among remote workers.
Reconfigure the physical office space to accommodate your new office design. You’ll probably find you don’t need as many cubicles in the office space now. Instead, the priority will likely focus on spaces designed to accommodate meetings of all sizes. Additionally, this hybrid office model is a chance to modernize your space and get people excited to walk into your building. The colors of your space go a long way so it’s important that you know all about office color psychology. You can really use this time as an opportunity to revamp and energize your space, and Clarus is the place to help you do just that!