4 Strategies for Building a Hybrid Workplace that Works

The global pandemic has created new challenges and opportunities in almost every industry, and when the economy reopens, competition will be fierce. The winners will be those who best understand the needs of their customers, collaborating to define multiple solutions, prototyping, iterating, and bringing new ideas to market. Those behaviors will only happen when people come together in the new, modern working environment.

By all the signs that the future of work is the future: 52% of US workers prefer a mix of home and office work, saying it had a positive effect on their creativity, problem-solving, and relationship-building abilities. Global research tells us 72% of business leaders plan to launch a hybrid model, and Only 13% say they expect to reduce their real estate footprint next year, suggests that organizations will continue to leverage their workplace in an integrated work future.

But getting hybrid rights will be very difficult. Deciding who works in the office and how often is a complex matter, and it will be different for every organization. If not done well, it can threaten culture, collaboration and innovation. Conversely, a well-executed hybrid workplace can be a magnet that holds people together and helps us be more productive than ever.

Winning organizations know that workplaces are designed for people, and that organizational resilience helps them move forward, learn, and stay competitive. For starters, more 50% of US companies plan to test new space like Part of their return to the office this year, for example, is repositioning the cafe into a high-energy social and collaboration space that better supports new hybrid working models.

As architects and office interior designers serving the world’s largest organizations, we advise leaders to think about four design approaches as you consider strategy. his combination.

Digital and Physical Experience Braid

As leaders of global teams, we know that bridging the gap between face-to-face and remote participants is difficult, and the combined work means that people are sure to be working from home. far away, regardless of how well teams coordinate the days at their offices. Distant colleagues may feel frustrated and unable to participate equally, becoming less engaged. This is especially true for creative and innovative work, such as brainstorming, which often uses analog whiteboards or other physical products that are difficult for people on the other side of the camera to fully experience. .

The solution is to integrate physical space and technology with three key concepts: fairness, interaction and ease.

For example, many conference rooms now include a long table with a screen at the end. Live attendees sit around the table while remote participants are highlighted in a grid of small boxes, often on the same screen as any shared content.

One way to create more equity is to provide each participant with their own screen, placing the screen in a wheelchair that can be easily moved. Teams can drag a remote colleague into a breakout session or onto the table. Many software systems today allow you to split people and content on separate screens.

To be fully interactive, people need to have a clear vision of each other and of the content. Designing employees to engage in digital-physical spaces means thinking like a film director – lighting, camera, sound, content. Some of the solutions we’re seeing are angled or portable desks, additional lighting, extra speakers, in-room microphones, marker boards, and easy-to-move displays.

Besides, search tells us more people will connect to the meeting on their personal devices as well as the technology in the room. Abundant power, whiteboards, and a variety of software solutions will contribute to an easier, more seamless collaborative collaboration experience for everyone.

Flip closed space and open

It’s time to rethink open plan. Over the decades, individual workstations have become more open to increasing density, while meetings are held in closed meeting rooms. As people return to the office, these spaces will begin to change. Meetings will take place more often in open spaces with movable boundaries, and focused individual work will take place in enclosed spaces such as enclosures or small areas.

Open collaboration spaces are inherently more flexible because they don’t require fixed features in their design, so they can transform and change as new working models emerge. Innovation, problem solving, and co-creation often use agile approaches – for example, snap-stand meetings that require persistent, visible content that can be held in an open, defined space defined by flexible interiors, accessible technology and other design elements.

Meanwhile, individual spaces will need more enclosure to provide the different levels of audio and visual privacy people expect when working from home. Video calls are going to be everywhere, so the boxes — the screen, the dashboard, the case — will keep everyone focused and minimize disruption.

Moving from Fixed to Flexible

Buildings are built to last, while the pace of business and change continues to accelerate. We can see the tension between slow and fast emerging in the rise of pop-ups and co-working models with the need for shorter lease terms. Most real estate companies ask, how much space do we need?

The future settles for a more flexible workplace that can be flexible as needs change. This not only accelerates innovation and enhances an organization’s culture, but can also ensure that real estate is always optimized. At Steelcase, we have optimized our own space by designing an open area that supports mixed meetings in the morning, becomes a cafe at lunch, hosts a town hall in the morning. afternoon and can be rented to organize evening events.

Balancing “We” and “I” Work

The pandemic has made us rethink the purpose and meaning of the office and many leaders have come to the conclusion that the office is a place to work collaboratively. Gensler’s Research Institute, conducted during the height of the pandemic, found that full-time employees working from home have reduced their average collaboration time by 37%. As a result, leaders are properly focused on fostering collaboration and Research on steel shows that nearly two-thirds of leaders want to increase the space for both direct and hybrid collaboration.

But collaboration is not just teamwork, it really also requires solitude. Effective collaboration occurs when there is a tendency for people to come together to work as a team and then move apart to focus individually, process their ideas, and execute tasks. assigned. Too much time together, not enough individual time can lead to group thinking, so it’s important that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far by designing the office around “them.” ta” and does not balance the need for “me” space.

The jury is still out on whether working from home is more effective, but over the past year, employees report higher levels of productivity when their home allows them to work without interruption. We must also provide places of adequate privacy in the office, and employees must be able to move easily from one type of work to another without having to walk across campus or get caught up in work. complex technology.

The office we return to has to give people a better experience than they have at home, and that means giving employees the right mix of spaces for the types of work that need to be done. . Organizations that choose a “wait and see” approach risk disappointing their employees, who find that the old office doesn’t support the new ways they – jeopardize their competitive advantage in doing bring people together. Those whose organizations move forward and create adaptive, flexible, and evolving workplaces attract and retain the best talent and benefit from innovation and growth. The office of the future will be a competitive advantage for organizations that know how to take advantage of this moment at the right time.

When we all get back to the office, it won’t be the same, and that’s a good thing. | 4 Strategies for Building a Hybrid Workplace that Works


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