Contributed by Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton is the C.E.O. of a startup business operating a hybrid office model. Born in the United Kingdom and raised in the United States, she’s flexible and adaptive to the new winning office trends, but her greatest interest is putting her employees’ needs before hers.
With the way the business industry has been changing recently, hybrid offices are becoming the new future of modern businesses. While the concept of flexible work arrangements is not new anymore, the pandemic has undoubtedly fueled this and how it can be valuable to businesses and their workforce.
What Is a Hybrid Office?
‘The number of employees demanding to work in hybrid environments has grown by 820% during the past five years, according to Lensa Inc.
The flexibility of employees continues to benefit greatly from this clear trend. Interestingly, that tendency was only the second to emerge, with “menopause leave” taking the top spot with a 1,300% year-to-year increase in work demands.
A hybrid workplace accommodates employees working from home and those working from the office. With such a flexible work arrangement, team members don’t need to travel to and from work. Instead, they get the opportunity to choose whether to work from the office, home, or anywhere they feel more comfortable and productive.
Aside from the flexibility it brings, here are other ways your business can benefit from a hybrid work setup:
Increased efficiency and productivity
Considering your employees can work from their comfort zone, their focus and concentration levels could increase, and they’ll be more likely to be more efficient and productive in fulfilling their tasks. And with the option to work on individual projects remotely and team projects from the office, workloads can be more manageable, as they can organize their schedules flexibly.
Overall, there’s no better factor influencing productivity than satisfied and focused employees.
Can be cost-effective
A hybrid office can help decrease overall operational costs since you can opt for a smaller physical space for your office, especially since you won’t require as many workstations and office supplies as in a traditional office setup. You could also expect a cut in your utility bills.
Improvement of team members’ wellbeing
In a hybrid work structure, a limited number of employees are in the office, minimizing the chances of transmitting contagious diseases from one to the other. And with only a few team members working in-house, you can implement better health and safety measures.
Moreso, a hybrid setup can help promote wellness among employees. Whichever works best for them, whether working remotely or in a formal office setting, a comfortable working environment and flexible work can allow them to balance work and healthy personal life.
Increases talent pool
Since a hybrid office accommodates on-site (in the office) and remote employees, you can expand your hiring process and get access to a wider talent pool. This is especially the case since, in some cases, businesses could miss out on having talented employees in their organization due to geographical locations. But with remote working capabilities, that issue can be minimized.
Better employee retention rate
But aside from allowing you to tap into a wider talent pool, a hybrid work arrangement could also enable you to increase your retention rates. The flexibility of this work setup can help boost employee morale and improve the work culture in your organization, which can go a long way in keeping your workforce engaged and satisfied.
Create Flexible Spaces
Shifting to a hybrid work arrangement requires taking into account different variables, and one of which is your physical office or workplace. As you redesign your premises into one, here are some pointers to help ensure a flawless and successful transition to a functional hybrid office.
Flexibility, as a core foundation of a hybrid work arrangement, should be one of the considerations in shifting your workplace’s overall setup. This means creating an efficient and conducive work area that can accommodate your on-site and remote workers and their tasks.
Here are some ways to design your office space for flexibility.
Introduce coworking areas in your office
Coworking areas provide your on-site employees with a space to collaborate when discussing and attending to team projects. Having a coworking area or huddle spaces can also promote better communication within your organization since you get to eliminate physical boundaries like cubicle partitions, which are often used in a traditional office.
Ultimately, a reconfigurable space can make a dynamic office space that can foster productivity and efficiency among your team. Your office’s coworking space can be as simple as having an open area with movable furniture and enough power outlets that your team can utilize as they go on their working day and perform their functions.
On the other hand, if you’re running a startup and perhaps renting a whole office space is not feasible, you can look for facilities offering serviced offices and coworking space. You can also check if such facilities have meeting rooms and private office spaces you can use for your operations.
Add private spaces or cubicles
While having coworking spaces can encourage seamless collaboration of your on-site employees, it can also be distracting for other members who are also in the office. Whether they’re in a virtual meeting or in need of a much quieter space to finish the tasks at hand, a noisy workspace can disrupt their focus and reduce their productivity. The solution to this dilemma is mixing private spaces or cubicles and mixed-use collaborative spaces.
Consider hot desking
Another way you can encourage flexibility in your hybrid office is by introducing the concept of hot desking. In simpler terms, this refers to a desk setup wherein your employees have no permanent or designated workstations.
This concept could work in a hybrid work arrangement, considering employees are generally given the freedom to either report on-site or work remotely. And so, allotting a table or desk for each employee when they may not go to the office on a daily basis can be a waste of space and resources.
Another benefit of hot desking is it can redefine collaboration and communication within your company. Since your employees have the choice of which workstation to use when they report to the physical office, they can opt to sit next to a colleague that they’re working on a project with.
Overall, this type of desk arrangement can help boost the productivity of your on-site workforce while also improving the functionality of your hybrid office space. However, to implement this system more efficiently, utilize technology and modern solutions to organize the reservation of working spaces.
Design an Ideal Work Environment
Creating a conducive and comfortable environment for your on-site employees should also be on your checklist when designing a hybrid office space, as it can significantly influence the productivity of your team. And among the many ways you can achieve this is by providing the ideal lighting and temperature for your workforce.
As much as possible, make the most of natural lighting. Studies suggest that natural light can help regulate a person’s circadian rhythm. This, in turn, can help promote better sleep at night among your employees, making them more likely to be productive and energized the next day. Moreover, an office that encourages daylight through ample windows or glazed internal doors is also believed to boost employee satisfaction since they tend to feel more connected with the outdoors even when working.
On the other hand, if installing more windows is not an option, utilize and find the right temperature for your artificial lighting. For instance, for collaborative spaces and workstations, go for white or blue lights to promote focus and concentration. Alternatively, you can have warmer lights in your communal spaces to allow your on-site employees to relax and unwind during breaks.
Research shows that the productivity of your employees may be affected by different temperature-controlled environments. According to the study, employees in cold environments tend to make more typing errors than those in warmer spaces.
However, note that a room temperature too high or low could also affect your employees’ mood and overall output when working. Moreover, not all employees have the same preferences in terms of office temperature. Hence, among the things you can do to find a middle ground include getting your employees’ comments and finding a compromise, installing a smart thermostat, and keeping your HVAC units well-maintained and serviced.
Set Up Common Spaces and Break Rooms
Continuous working and uninterrupted focus from morning to afternoon or evening can be exhausting for your on-site employees. You can make it less tiresome and more fun for them by introducing common spaces, break rooms, or a small pantry they can use to take a breather from deadlines and in-between meetings.
For instance, you can offer a variety of seating areas, from comfortable couches to bar stools and armchairs. You could also place coffee makers, microwaves, and a snacks station in the break room. You can also invest in entertainment tools like board games, puzzles, and cards.
Fresh and relaxed minds are more efficient and productive. It can also help create a good work culture and relationship among your team members, which can result in employee satisfaction and morale and improved work outputs.
Install Storage Solutions
Secured storage solutions such as lockers, drawers, and cabinets are essential parts of a hybrid office. Considering they’ll be in and out of the office, having a compartment that can store and lock their personal belongings, office supplies, and other work essentials can be beneficial. It can provide your team members with peace of mind knowing their things are safe and secured without necessarily taking them whenever they leave the office.
Include Hybrid Office Technology
As you evolve from traditional to hybrid office space designs, you’ll also have to upgrade your technology to accommodate the arising needs of business operations and serve both remote and in-office employee functions.
Here are a few technologies you shouldn’t miss in your hybrid office.
- Virtual Conference Spaces: Virtual conferencing allows different people to interact or hold a meeting without being in the same room. The presence of electronic devices that enable such gatherings will help you keep in touch with your remote workers.
- Document Management System: It’s a system used to store and track electronic documents like Word Processing Files (WPS) and Portable Document Formats (PDFs). It provides security for your files as it can limit the people with access to the documents and is simple to retrieve.
- Hoteling Software: Hoteling software allows employees to book workstations and reserve desks and conference rooms instead of servicing them using the first-come-first-served law. It can give you insight into the total space you need and can reduce estate costs.
- Workflow Management Tools: Workflow control tools allow you to organize, supervise, assign, and finalize all tasks needed for a particular project. These tools can help you achieve the best results possible.
Shifting to a hybrid work setup can help empower your employees by providing a more flexible arrangement to fulfill their duties. It can also be cost-effective and allows you to maximize productivity.
As you transition to this work arrangement, keeping in mind the insights above can be a promising start in ensuring you create a conducive and flexible office space, which your on-site employees can benefit from.