There are many steps you can take to adapt to this new normal. From some simple adjustments, to larger refurbishments, we’ve curated our top ten tips to help you on your journey toward creating the ultimate hybrid work environment.
1. Evaluate the office layout: The first step to adapting to a hybrid work environment is to evaluate your current office layout. Office planning should be focused on creating a space that provides a balance between open-office designs and private spaces that cater to specific job tasks. As such, office furniture can be utilised to create separate workspaces that foster collaboration and creativity while also allowing for individual work. One idea is to consider the use of office pods or work pods. These soundproof meeting pods, phone booths and private spaces fix noise and privacy issues in open offices. They allow for team members to work together, or on their own, as the needs arises and are designed to boost concentration, productivity and workplace happiness.
2. Incorporate room divider screens: Room divider screens can be used to create designated spaces that offer privacy for individuals or small teams to work on specific projects without distractions from the surrounding environment. These screens can be adjusted to cater to different team sizes, depending on the task at hand. In an open plan office, hybrid working can be a challenge with some people needing to meet in person, while others need to meet online, often resulting in many different conversations going on at the same time. These screens can also be used to reduce distractions, allowing teams the dedicated space they need to communicate and collaborate without worrying about disturbing their onsite colleagues.
3. Optimise storage: With many employees working remotely, and the rise of “hot desking”, the clever use of cupboards or cubicles is more important than ever, as employees often no longer have their own dedicated workspaces. If you haven’t gone paperless yet, storage should be available for hard copies of files, equipment, and personal belongings too. This will help to keep workspaces clear and ready for the next employee to book their hot desk or “flex desk”. Office storage can be designed to cater to the needs of each employee, with personal items kept secure and within reach when needed, yet out of the way when the space needs to be used by others.
4. Create open-plan offices: An open office design is characterised by a layout that provides ample space for collaboration, with minimal barriers between workstations. This layout can be beneficial for employees who thrive on interaction and teamwork. However, it should be balanced with private spaces, such as office pods, that offer a more focused environment for individual work or sensitive discussions.
5. Incorporate room design ideas: The use of colours, lighting, and soft furniture, such as couches and armchairs, can help to create a warm and welcoming environment that meets the changing needs of workers throughout the day. From functional work spaces to zones for relaxation in their downtime, it’s important to give your employees the choice. The use of natural lighting and plants can also help to create a sense of calm and productivity in the workplace.
6. Welcome your staff back: If you’ve been operating as a remote working business for a while and you’re trying to shift towards a more hybrid way of work, take the time to welcome your employees back to the office. Offer an orientation that highlights the changes in the office environment and the new tools and policies you’ve put in place to ensure a smooth transition back to the office. Doing a virtual walkthrough before they return to work could help to get them excitement about the return to work.
7. Embrace technology: In a hybrid work environment, technology is a key component. Tools like video conferencing, messaging apps, and project management software can help to keep remote and on-site workers connected and productive. It’s important to provide employees with the necessary technology and training to ensure that they can effectively use these tools.
8. Foster communication and collaboration: Communication and collaboration are essential in a hybrid work environment. Leaders should encourage regular check-ins and team meetings to ensure that all team members are on the same page. Regular Town Halls are a great tool for cementing your company culture and ensuring the lines of communication are always open, from the top down. Collaboration tools like shared project boards and document management software can also help to keep team members connected and working together.
9. Emphasise work-life balance: In a hybrid work environment, employees have more flexibility in terms of when and where they work. This brings its own set of challenges. When working remotely, it can sometimes be difficult to shutdown and walk away from your computer at the end of the workday. A focus on the importance of work-life balance is therefore essential. Be deliberate about encouraging your employees to take breaks and disconnect from work when necessary. This can help to prevent burnout and maintain employee satisfaction and productivity.
10. Continuously evaluate and adapt: A hybrid work environment is a new concept, and it’s only going to continue to evolve as time goes on. Don’t become complacent. Be sure to regularly evaluate and adapt your office layout and policies to keep up with your organisation’s changing needs. Asking your people for feedback can also help to identify areas for improvement and ensure that the workspace is optimised for productivity and employee satisfaction.
The traditional office may have worked five years ago, but if you want to meet the needs and expectations of the changing workforce, it’s essential that you adapt to a hybrid work environment. Re-evaluate what you have and see how you can create a workspace that fosters collaboration and creativity while also allowing for individual work. With some planning and the right office layout, you can optimise productivity, improve employee engagement, and ensure your business is ready to step into the future of work.