How Hybrid Working Is Changing The Future Of Office Designs
In the months following the Covid pandemic, many companies switched to becoming a hybrid workplace. After Covid forced many to adapt to working from home, most found that they preferred this way of working and mixing up their time at the office with time spent working at home and workplaces had to look at how to incorporate this within their current office space. But, now that a few years have passed, how is hybrid working changing office designs for new businesses and what does this mean for the future?
What Is Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working models is where employees are only required to come into the office once or twice a week at the same time as the rest of their team. For the rest of the week, unless an in-person meeting is scheduled, employees have the flexibility to work from home. Employers are trying to see the office in a different way following the pandemic.
Before, it was a case of working in the office because that was what everyone did, but now, businesses want people to work from where they feel most productive. This could be an 80/20 split between working from home and working from the office, or it could be mixing up the days each week. Businesses are trying to make office spaces more collaborative for employers so that they work and communicate better than before.
Fewer Desks, More Social Collaboration
Offices have always been going through a process of evolution. Even before Covid happened, offices found themselves having to adapt to changes in technological and generational demands. All that Covid did was speed up this evolution and put it at the forefront of people’s minds. Employees are now no longer interested in spending hours each day commuting into the office, to spend the day mostly working at a desk alone, following a presenteeism style of management that was first invented over 100 years ago.
Instead, workers now want to come into the office for specific reasons, which could be for in-person meetings or to socialise and work alongside their peers on certain days. The more virtual that working becomes, the more important it is to connect and communicate with your colleagues in person. Companies are now converting space which was once used as desk or meeting space and turning it into collaborative spaces and areas where workers can get together. They may also be used to mentor, teach and train employees, too.
A Focus on Health, Wellbeing and Virtual Experiences
New and more modern office designs are also now addressing a wider range of factors which not only cover mandatory health and safety, but wellbeing too. Health was an increasingly hot topic prior to the pandemic, but it was more focused on regular exercise and encouragement for employees to spend time outdoors at some point during the day. Now, it has shifted to include all aspects of health, including physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Following the pandemic, many employees began to pay more attention to their health and wellness, so it made sense that employers would then want to add this to their business.
When employees do come into the office, businesses may put on wellness events, such as yoga sessions, or offer employee perks such as health insurance or access to more diverse health benefits such as dental plans or therapy sessions.
What Businesses Can Do To Change Their Office Designs
Following the pandemic, many businesses were able to rework the space they already had in order to support hybrid working or they simply downsized and found a new office space which accommodated their hybrid workforce. But, not every business has the ability to do this. Some businesses may be tied into a lease agreement or own the building they are in. In this instance, these businesses may instead choose to revamp their space. This could include an office revamp, or a commercial fit out which is tailored to the unique space and needs of your business.
When it comes to creating office space to accommodate hybrid working in your business, there are many different things which you should consider.
- Desk distancing
- Outdoor spaces, if possible
- Areas or pods to suit different team sizes
- Conference and meeting areas
- Natural influence or spaces
Depending on the size of your business and the teams that operate within, you may find that you need different spaces to accommodate different teams, so this should also be considered. For example, tech teams will likely need a larger space so as to accommodate the tech and devices they require, or for marketing teams, they could need a more functional space. You may also want to consider hotdesking rather than giving employees their own desk space if you are offering a hybrid approach, so then large areas of your business aren’t being taken up throughout the week when employees are working from home.