The Reorganization of Workspaces in Hybrid Models
The current accelerated trend of implementing hybrid work models invites leaders not only to rethink processes and the on-site vs remote time ratio, but also to face a challenge from the interior design perspective: the reconfiguration of office spaces.
What should we leave behind from the old style of organizing our premises? What new requirements should we consider in order to make our in-office days efficient and pleasant?
With all the changes implied by this large-scale transition, companies are going through a test of creativity and flexibility. Since finding the most suitable hybrid formula for each organization is an ongoing and adjustable experiment, we can expect changes in the design of workspaces to happen gradually as well.
Productive freedom is here to stay.
Remote work is becoming a reality, and quite fast. Are you prepared to embrace it?
What should we keep from the previous arrangements?
Let’s say that you have already made the decision to implement mixed teams, with remote and on-site employees. You realize that under these conditions it is harder to predict exactly how many people will be simultaneously present at the company’s headquarters: how many individual workspaces will you need? How many meeting rooms? For how long?
While until now it was clear that every employee needed an individual desk to carry out his or her work, the first thing we notice when adopting a hybrid model is that we no longer have to block so much space. We don’t need so many individual desks anymore.
Instead, we need to design flexible spaces, both for those working independently, and for those who come to the office in order to collaborate and socialize.
In rethinking hybrid spaces, companies are also currently considering several area options: how much space do they really need? Can they narrow down (benefiting from lower rent costs) or do they prefer to keep the whole space, focusing on reconfiguring it?
Another option that is gaining ground among certain companies is to reduce large spaces and create smaller offices or satellites, in disparate locations, easily accessible by employees who need to work on site on non-remote days.
The new purposes of workspaces
The key to an effective hybrid design of workspaces lies in the answers to a few strategic questions:
- For what purposes will we go to the office from now on?
- When is it more productive to be physically present at the company’s premises?
- What are the logistical needs specific to these circumstances?
While in the past we went to the office every day because it was the standard place for doing our job, we are now leaving behind rigid approaches. We set ourselves clearer goals for in-office days.
- As all organizations implementing hybrid models have noticed, it is essential to look at the new offices as collaborative spaces. The offices of the future facilitate teamwork meetings, brainstorming sessions, interactions that stimulate creativity and strengthen the sense of connection between colleagues, a sense that fades when we work remotely for too long.
- A challenge reported by most employers during the pandemic is the difficult integration of newly hired people when working fully-remotely. Although meanwhile effective methods of remote onboarding have been developed, rethinking workspaces for hybrid models also means designing new areas for mentoring, learning and face-to-face training.
How does the office of the future look like?
- Under the new circumstances, the idea of workspace adaptability for alternative use should be seriously taken into account. From desk-sharing with other colleagues by rotation to modular furniture (which can be easily assembled and reassembled as needed), hybrid offices leave inflexible designs behind.
- In creating such spaces, there is a lot of emphasis on video conferencing rooms and their proper endowment. These spaces require tools that allow optimal collaboration between those physically present at the meeting and their remote colleagues. In an article on this topic, the Computer Weekly mentions the importance of technical facilities in conference rooms, such as high quality microphones and projectors, subtitles and transcripts of discussions in real time, co-opting team members in spontaneous meetings through a simple click on the devices. This way, all participants, whether on-site or remotely, feel equally involved in debates.
- A very useful feature for hybrid spaces is the possibility to book a desk at the company’s premises through dedicated applications, making sure you will have the right desk at the office when you need it.
- Last but not least, the multipurpose furniture and facilities of the hybrid spaces also help to quickly reconfigure formal areas into informal ones, so that office days offer pleasant and motivating socialization moments.
Regardless of the hybrid model they choose, there is no doubt that today’s leaders have the opportunity to implement a better management of workspaces.