How To Design a Great Hybrid Office
Designing a hybrid office starts with understanding what people want from their office. Our guide shares how to design.
Research shows that offering a variety of spaces drives more employee engagement. It provides them with more opportunities to do their best work every day. At the same time, it also increases the sense that their company cares enough to deliver this to them.
More remote work also means that there is more isolation and loneliness. Feeling isolated while working from home is the biggest concern people identified, and the top reason to return to the office is to connect with co-workers. Research shows that people miss contact with coworkers the most from the physical office.
People want to have a sense of belonging at work. This is not only good for their well-being, but it also helps business results. A strong sense of community is the top indicator of people’s productivity. It also impacts their engagement, innovation, and commitment to the organization. Google even mentioned community as a top reason to continue to invest in physical offices.
People gather in different types of spaces and have “casual collisions.” They are the places where employees join before, during, and after work. This includes community spaces, lounges, pantries, coffee shops, outdoors, and entertainment spaces.
Together, they can help people interact with each other in a more impromptu, casual way. As Thomas Heatherwick, a leading office designer, said: “No Skype chat can replicate the “chemistry of the unexpected” that you get in person.”
In the past months, we have proven that online collaboration is possible. Still, many feel it’s usually best done at the office.
This is because trust is a critical ingredient for successful collaboration. And trust builds easier in person. The best collaboration happens when we can walk up to someone. It’s also when we have access to the right tools and resources.
Salesforce’s Chief People Officer shared about their post-COVID workplace earlier this year. He said: “To start, we’ll be redesigning our workspaces over time as community hubs. This accommodates a more hybrid work-style. Gone are the days of a sea of desks. Instead, we’ll create more collaboration and breakout spaces. This is to foster the human connection that can’t be replicated remotely.”
Meet spaces come in five categories. They are: Share & Learn, Collaborate, Brainstorm & Innovate, Converse, and Connect. These spaces allow employees to use their office for what they can’t do (well) at home. From group training to in-person one-on-one, Meet spaces are critical in the new hybrid office.
Of course, focused work is important as well. In fact, it’s one of the key reasons people come to an office nowadays.
But, in a true hybrid office, focused work no longer happens at one’s own desk. Flexible or hot desks are a better choice to avoid lots of underutilized workspaces, especially when the company pays for them, whether they use them or not.
Hot desks are often arranged in proximity to the social areas. Companies do this to try and keep down the amount of space they have to rent. This defeats the purpose of having a focus area.
Desks are better placed in an open yet quiet area for people to do focused work. In larger offices, “neighborhoods” of desks can appear in various zones. This gives individual employees the choice of what works best for them.
Having open space for people to sit and a flexible working schedule means spaces can get overcrowded. Companies can solve this in two ways: by partnering with a flexible office provider. This gives them access to a workspace on an on-demand basis. And ensure that companies pay for space only when they need it.
Second, they can tap into a desk booking system called hoteling software. Companies can use hot desk booking platforms, Operating Systems for flexible workspaces. These platforms allow employees to book space so the company knows when to halt bookings.