Laying the groundwork for Hybrid: Three key questions you should be asking
The pandemic changed all aspects of the way we live - not least work. The last eighteen months have seen rapid, widespread - and generally successful - adoption of remote working practices. As a result, hybrid has emerged as 'the new normal' in a range of sectors. But, while there are many fantastic reasons to embrace the model, trend-hopping isn't one of them.
Here, we outline three key questions your organisation should be asking as a means of shaping meaningful policies and spaces.
1) What is your office for?
In 2021, 'work' is very much a verb - the something you do, rather than the somewhere you go. That doesn't necessarily mean the office is redundant; it means it has to serve some higher function than simply providing employees with a desk (and the chance to be seen at it). It should give them the ability to achieve things they can't elsewhere.
In many cases, that will mean enabling meaningful, productive face-to-face interactions in spaces purpose built for collaboration. For some employees, however, the opposite may be true. It could be that the office provides their best chance to enjoy real unbroken concentration.
Whatever the case may be, it is highly likely that your organisation can afford to move away from a 1:1 ration of employees to desks, with the extra space being put to more specialised use.
2) What are your people thinking?
You may have an instinctual answer to the prior question, but as advocates of data-driven design, we believe insight always trumps instinct. How will you gain an objective view of what your employees need from their space and how those needs can be met?
Careful analysis is essential. In our view, this should involve an element of consultation with the workforce. When you give employees the ability to inform your vision of hybrid, you don't just create effective solutions but buy-in as well. That's an important aspect of any change programme, but especially hybrid which, at its core, is about leveraging trust to create freer, more productive practices. That's very much something to be done with employees rather than to them.
3) What about tomorrow?
Change is the only certainty. It's a truism that events around the globe prove over and over again. So, while hybrid definitely isn't going away, it's useful to acknowledge that it's likely to keep evolving. That's hardly surprising given that fluidity is one of the model's key features.
With this in mind, adaptability should be a facet of any hybrid space. When put together carefully, a space can serve multiple purposes, reconfiguring around the needs of those present on a daily basis, and over the longer term too. How will your choice of furnishings work to enable this? Will the pieces you invest in continue to deliver value further down the line if your needs should change?
These three broad questions are designed to help you form a foundation on which to start building a strategy - but there's a lot else to think about. From the technicalities of securing off-site endpoints, to the implications for company culture - the move to hybrid requires careful, holistic consideration. Complete our short survey and receive a tailored report on your organisational readiness - and the steps you can take to improve it.