SHOULD YOU CHANGE THE DESIGN OF YOUR OFFICE POST-COVID?
Many organisations know that they need to change the way they work post-covid. They also realise that the size and design of their workplace will need to change.
If your organisation is now allowing staff to work from home part of the time then it is likely that the size of the office space can be reduced. However the design of the office space will need to be quite different to what you had before.
What is hybrid working?
When organisations move to a combination of working in the office and working from home this is called hybrid working. Therefore a definition of hybrid working could be "a work style that involves working from home as well as working from the office".
There is no defined ratio or split between office and home. This is going to vary from company to company and also from job role to job role with the same company. One of the biggest challenges when moving to a hybrid working model is establishing the correct ratio for your organisation.
In essence hybrid working is actually a progression from agile working, which many companies have adopted over recent years. The key difference is that the home workplace becomes one of the work settings available for quiet focussed work and for meetings that can be held virtually.
What do you need to change to create a hybrid working office?
So what is different about a hybrid working office compared to an old-style traditional open-plan office?
Firstly you probably don't need to have a desk for each person. This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. People don't like giving up their own desk. However if they are not coming into the office everyday it makes no sense for continuing the one desk per person ratio. As people start becoming more agile and flexible in the way they work they will naturally become less attached to "their desk". The space that is truly theirs is their home workspace.
Secondly you need to empower your staff to work in the best setting for the tasks they have on hand. This may also require changes to the way staff are managed and their KPI's. The productivity of staff must truly be based on actual outputs rather than checking that they are sat at their desk!
What tasks should staff do in the office?
When staff actually come into the office the main activities or tasks they will be doing are collaboration, meetings, training and learning, and socialising. The purpose of the office will change from just a place that you come to every day to do work.
It will become a Social Hub to help build and maintain connections with the team. Those impromptu watercooler conversations are actually valuable for knowledge exchange and idea generation. It will also be a hive of collaborative activity with project teams working on key projects and initiatives. It also will be a place for learning and training - not necessarily formal training but also that informal training that happens subconsciously when junior staff observe and listen to how their peers behave and act in different situations. This is invaluable for the building and strengthening of company culture.
What tasks should staff do at home?
The tasks that staff carry out at home will be individual work tasks, particularly work requiring concentration and focus.
In addition you can also have meetings held virtually on platforms such as Zoom or Teams. It should be noted, however, that less value may be obtained from a virtual meeting than a face to face one - especially if the meeting is for brain-storming or idea generation.
Employers should also bear in mind that if employees are being required to work at home then they have a responsibility to ensure that their work space complies with regulations.
How do you start moving to hybrid working?
The first steps to take when considering a move to hybrid working is to engage with your team. Send out a survey to find out what tasks they could productively carry out at home, whether they have a suitable space at home to work in and what their own preferences are work location. You also need to carry out an assessment from a management point of view to see what would work best for the company.
You also need to accurately assess your office space and see what changes will need to be made to your current layout to make it suitable for hybrid working. You may find that you will not need as much space as you are currently using.
You also need to consider your management methods and whether they will be effective for a partly remote workforce. From an HR perspective you will also need to consider mental health issues and DSE regulations for remote workers.
FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION
Are you one of the many companies that are wondering how their office space should change - but not sure where to start?
If you want expert advice and assistance in making the transition to a new way of working for your company then get our workplace consultancy team involved.
To schedule an initial free consultation then give us a call on 023 9248 9933 or fill in the contact form.