Updated: Apr 25
While the office space has undergone drastic changes and redesigns, none were as urgent and unique as the one granted by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Zoom calls and Google meetings have become the routine norm, and everyone has seen how digital workplaces have brought with them a distinctive set of pros and cons.
As a result, many companies are forgoing the traditional office structure and redesigning it for a hybrid workspace in our now endemic culture. So, what is a hybrid office, you ask? It’s a setup that accommodates both remote and in-office workers. This working model assumes employees will be moving more frequently between the home and the office — yes, even post-pandemic!
Getting hybrid right is not a walk in the park. While it can be a game-changer when done well, it requires a thoughtful and purposeful redesign to ensure that the company is able to address their employees’ needs while maximising productivity. How can organisations strike the crucial balance and design the ideal hybrid workspace?
1. Establish clear guidelines for hybrid work.
It’s not a one ‘size fits all’ solution. Hybrid looks different for every organisation, and it begins by knowing your employees and understanding their working styles before you can proceed to create a clear-cut hybrid work policy that works for everyone.
Are you an “office first” or a “remote first” company? Will your employees get to decide whether they work at home or in the office? Does everyone meet in the office simultaneously and work at home at the same time, or will you do pooling and rotating? These are some of the questions to ask while you are focused on the practical objectives it brings to you and your organisation.
2. Create an agile work environment.
The purpose of hybrid workspaces is to allow companies to dabble in flexible space strategies, where they readjust the design, setup, and size of their workspace to facilitate greater productivity from their employees, be it at home or in their workplace.
Employees might not need a dedicated desk space in a hybrid setup, and employers can reserve office spaces instead of leasing them. Below are some concepts suited for hybrid work:
Activity-based working (ABW) - This workplace design strategy offers the right mix of quiet, private, and collaborative spaces. Employees can reserve rooms and equipment and move from one area to another throughout the day as their tasks or activities change.
Hot-desking - This strategy allows employees to claim desks when they need them and keep them open for others when they don’t. This is a great arrangement for employees that do not need a dedicated space or do not come in multiple days a week.
Desk hoteling - Since hot-desking is usually done on a first-come, first-served basis, employees can reserve a workspace to ensure there’s a desk waiting for them when they arrive at work.
3. Bridge the digital and physical experience.
Companies should streamline their technological solutions, whether communication, project management, or desk-booking tools; otherwise, remote colleagues may feel less engaged or unable to participate equally. Employees should be able to instantly access information and communicate with colleagues as easily as if they were sitting next to each other. Team leaders should leverage technological benefits and advancements to support the relationships between on-site and at-home workers.
4. Design the office for collaboration.
The pandemic has caused everyone to rethink and realise that an office is primarily a place for collaborative work. It is not a 9-to-5 outpost but a culture space and a social anchor, where employees gather for culture, collaboration, and learning.
Therefore, companies should focus on developing a socially engaging culture space. Ideally, it should facilitate connections, enable learning, and foster both formal and informal interactions. As it’s no longer a place where employees need to be physically present each day, a thriving hybrid environment is where employees choose to spend their time where they are the most effective and productive.
Conclusion – it takes time and consistent effort
Hybridisation isn’t a one-size-fits-all programme. Your company’s approach to hybrid working should be as unique as your organisation itself. While it may take time to get used to, having a greater degree of flexibility allows for employees and team leaders to choose what works and create greater convenience and increased happiness of the people involved.
If an effective hybrid office is what you’re trying to set up in 2022, why not hire an office space designer in Singapore to adopt a tailor-made approach to make your workspace genuinely flexible, efficient, and functional? As your business continues to move through the pandemic, strive to make your office a happy place for employees to come to whenever needed today.