The 6 Attributes of a Successful Hybrid Workplace
The hybrid workplace is a new concept, but one that will be prominent in the post-pandemic world. Companies have learned that workers can be productive from home, but we also know that humans are social beings and crave in-person interaction and collaboration, with recent surveys indicating 85% of knowledge workers want to work in an office with some frequency.
The way companies construct their hybrid office will be pivotal to its success (or lack thereof). We’ve outlined six attributes to keep in mind in order to run a successful hybrid workplace.
1. Make policies and expectations clear.
The hybrid way of working will be new to most companies and employees so it is critical to ensure employees are set up for success by clearly outlining company expectations. Create a guide about how work now works and share the information with employees as early as possible, and remind people often. People should know if there are requirements about the number of days and hours that they need to be in the office and/or online. If there are A/B days where certain employees come in on A days and others come in on B days, be clear about which group each person is in, and what is required if changes need to be made. Anticipate employee questions and make sure your guide has a robust FAQ section so that no one is left guessing about company expectations.
2. Build an inclusive environment.
In a world where some people are remote and some people are in-office, there is a possibility for a two-tier system to emerge where in-office employees have better access to information, executives, and resources. The more intentional you are about designing all parts of the work experience for employees in both environments, the more successful your employees and company will be. For example, design an appropriate IT setup for meetings to make it easier for both in-person and remote folks to engage fully. It’s critical that remote workers can see and hear, and be seen and heard, during all meetings, even if a majority of the attendees are in-office. Map out the employee experience, starting from the very beginning of onboarding, and be proactive about ways to foster inclusivity and equality for all employees.
3. Offer different types of seating: the rise of The Hot Desk.
One of the biggest new changes that will come with the hybrid office is the type of seating offered to employees. Given that a lot of workers will not spend five days per week in the office, it might not make sense to provide a dedicated desk and/or office to every employee. The office layout will likely include a combination of both reservable desks and also likely some dedicated desks/offices for certain employees.
4. Utilize tools and systems to manage your hybrid office.
There are new operational challenges that come with running a hybrid office, including making sure everyone has a spot to work during the day, knowing who is on-site on any given day, and ensuring capacity thresholds of the space are met. Consider implementing desk booking software so employees can reserve a desk prior to coming on-site. If it is important for teams to sit in close proximity to one another, look for a tool that allows companies to designate specific “neighborhoods” by team. Visitor management software is also important in this hybrid environment so you know who is coming and going inside of your office, whether it’s employees, vendors, candidates, or clients.
5. Take the right precautions around safety.
Team members should be encouraged to stay home if they are feeling at all under the weather. In addition, until COVID-19 is less prominent in our lives, it may be prudent for organizations to ask their team members to fill out health questionnaires and validate a clean bill of health, prior to office access. People also expect companies to provide certain pandemic-related protections in the office. In a February 2021 survey of 1,000 office workers, 71% of people said they expect their employer to provide hand sanitizer and 61% of people also expect new masks from their company.
6. Design to support a more collaboration-first space.
Think critically about what type of work employees will be doing in the office versus the work people will do at home and re-design your office to support that structure. Offices will likely need more areas for meeting and socializing given that the new hybrid office is about collaboration, and some people might choose to do individual contributor work at home. You might consider providing lockers so employees have a permanent area where they can store personal belongings, in case you implement hot desking.
The hybrid workplace brings a new set of challenges for workplace teams to tackle, but it also provides a new opportunity to reset what the office means. Being intentional in creating your hybrid workplace can ensure that you build a better place for your team to work!