Never before have companies had such an opportunity to radically alter their workspace. As most of us have adapted to working from home throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the office as it once was appears an outdated, almost redundant concept. Offices are now forced to compete not only with the comfort of the home environment but also with the inclusivity and ease of online working.
Much research has been undertaken surrounding the future of the office environment and studies show the emergence of a ‘hybrid workspace model’ as a popular post-pandemic solution. The IBM Institute for Business Value 2020 study says, ‘remote work will be a permanent fixture as part of a hybrid workforce that blends in-person employees with virtual colleagues’. The Remote Employee Experience Index further found that 72% of employees preferred a hybrid model.
But what is a hybrid workspace model? And how can companies adapt their old offices to suit the current demand for hybridity?
1: Understand workplace hybridity
Before making big purchases of office furniture, it’s important to fully understand what you’re trying to achieve. A hybrid workplace allows employees to operate both remotely and in an office environment. It is a model that revolves around the distinctive demands of the workforce and aims to support the way employees want to work. For that reason, it is largely unique to each company. To create a hybrid workspace that truly works for your company, it’s important to attain research into the way your employees work best.
A hybrid workplace acknowledges and celebrates the benefits of working both from home (comfort, ease and inclusivity), and in an office environment (collaboration, social interaction and company perks). Most importantly, a hybrid workplace is moulded around its workforce. In this way, companies are able to foster productive, employee-centric culture that both attracts and retains talented workers.
2: Invest in Modular Furniture
The ability to adapt and alter the environment to suit employees is a key foundation of the hybrid workspace. Modular furniture is thus expected to become a pivotal feature of the modern office environment. This includes everything from desks, to pods, meeting or huddle rooms, to storage solutions and sofas – anything that has the capacity to be altered or changed to suit the individual or company’s needs.
Allowing individuals to structure their furniture exactly to their liking enables them to replicate their remote working routines adding a sense of comfort to the working environment. Furthermore, modular furniture accommodates later changes in office culture – a future-proof investment that enables companies to adapt to their employees without buying new furniture every few years.
3: Use Office Storage creatively
Most commonly used to create a clutter-free welcoming office space, storage solutions such as lockers, drawers and grid storage remain an integral part of any workspace. Where possible, companies looking to adopt the hybrid model are encouraged to ensure their office spaces are as modern, homely and comfortable as possible. Well-designed, stylish storage units can certainly help your company achieve this.
However, using storage solutions as a way of creating divisions in a vast open space enables offices to produce smaller, cosy segments that aim to replicate a home environment. These sections could be used for both informal meetings or social gatherings. Ian Morely from Serraview recently suggested that companies toying with the idea of a hybrid workplace should establish ‘experience centres’ – a section of the building dedicated to non-assigned seating and team-based work in order to fully understand how the space would be used. Using office storage units to create demarcated ‘experience centres’ can be an interesting way of trailing a hybrid workspace, if you’re not yet ready to commit to an office overhaul.
4: Create social areas to increase team collaboration
As the home environment quickly becomes a place of individual productivity, the modern office should aim to encourage collaboration and team interaction. Commercial Projects have suggested that we should ‘expect to see outdoor areas that encourage relaxation, large kitchens that allow people to take time over their lunches, and open designs that provide areas for collaboration’.
Research suggests that when in the office, employees want to interact with their colleagues and cooperate on projects. Ensuring your company has adequate social spaces to aid team productivity is essential to achieving a hybrid workspace. This may take the shape of huddle rooms, larger relaxed social spaces or collaboration tables for team meetings.