Hybrid Planning | Designing for the Evolving Workplace
Updated: May 4
DESIGNING FOR THE EVOLVING WORKPLACE
A look into how the workplace has changed
and a guide to redesigning your office
to help support new work processes.
THE WORKPLACE IS CHANGING.
WILL YOU KEEP UP?
The future of the workplace is continually changing - and in the last few years that continues to be true. We may not know what the future has in store for the workplace but one constant we can count on is change.
The majority of the workforce is going to be utilizing the hybrid work model moving forward and the workplace needs to support this. Many companies are struggling with where to begin, and how to support their employees new work processes and styles.
Pre-pandemic, most businesses saw the office as a place where individuals could get work done. Post-pandemic, the office will only secondarily be a place to carry out tasks or engage in routine meetings, especially for knowledge workers. They will be able to do much of that from home, thanks to the growing functionality of information and communication technologies. As a result, employees will increasingly be working in what we call the hybrid office—moving between a home work space and a traditional office building. The latter will become primarily a culture space, providing workers with a social anchor, facilitating connections, enabling learning, and fostering unscripted, innovative collaboration. -Harvard business review.
UNDERSTANDING SPACE UTILIZATION
AND EMPLOYEE WORK PROCESSES.
Life and work are changing as we know it. When we acknowledged that we didn’t have all the answers, we also realized the solution—creating spaces that could adapt as our needs, both individually and as an organization, shifted. Finding flexibility through Soft Architecture, removing the boundaries that lock us into fixed situations, and fostering agile spaces that move along with our evolving needs is crucial to the success of our workplaces. -OFS
In a research study conducted by MillerKnoll named The Case for a Thriving Workplace, information collected suggest that remote work will continue to play a significant role beyond the pandemic, and that there will be a major shift away from individual office workspaces towards providing more collaborative meeting spaces, outdoor spaces, and social areas with an emphasis on people-focused environments. It is expected that the average percentage of unassigned workspaces will more than double, while the percentage of assigned workspaces will drop by a third. This means that space reservation and occupancy-sensing technologies will become more important for supporting a highly mobile workforce. Use of shared/coworking spaces and “space-as-a-service” will also grow, as organizations look to reduce their managed workspace footprint and increase future flexibility. - Tradeline
Less people in the office everyday creates the opportunity to utilize the space better. If your workforce works at home for 50% of their week, their cubicle or office sits empty and unused the other 50% of the week. It may be time to consolidate your floor plan and layout the space in a way to maximize your active square footage. See more about this idea in our other blog, "Less "Me" Space, More "We" Space | Re-utilizing Real Estate to Increase the Use of your Office".
With people splitting their time between home and the office, it is easy to lose the culture that is so important in the office. Having an inviting and fun workplace is one of the top ways to attract new talent. Walking into a stale, ghost-town of an office with empty desks and cubes doesn't really attract potential recruits.
Offices are transforming their cube farms into welcoming collaborative experiences that make employees want to come in. The environment in which people work has the opportunity to change and enhance their output.
OFS - Chicago NEOCON 2022
So how does a company determine what spaces to get rid of and what spaces to create? We must first establish what the office will look like on a weekly basis: how many employees will be in on any given day? How many employees will work from home and when? Understanding how your office will be used and at what capacity is crucial for the redesign to be effective.
You + by OFS www.ofs.com
OFS, a commercial furniture manufacturer, does a great job of outlining 3 common percentages of people returning to the office:
Meeting the needs
of an 80/20 workforce
The 80/20 floor plan was built with an equal focus on a personal experience. With the idea of 80% of the workforce returning to the office, we believe in creating more permanent workspaces as well as shared communal social areas, that offer employees a choice for how and where they want to work.
Meeting the needs
of a 50/50 workforce
The 50/50 floor plan is a balanced hybrid approach to the workplace, supporting full-time office users and those who find themselves in the office only a few days a week.
Meeting the needs
of a 20/80 workforce
The 20/80 plan represents a highly creative and collaborative work environment. Since 80% of employees' time is spent elsewhere, it’s imperative that the office landscape optimizes the feeling of belonging and community when they find themselves connecting with their colleagues in the workplace. Finding flexibility thru soft architecture, removing the permanent walls, and creating spaces that can be agile and move along with an organization as change happens.
IF YOU BUILD IT
THEY WILL COME.
After spending quite some time - for some of us, over 2 years - at home, some employees are hesitant to return to the office. What is going to bring employees back to the office after being so comfortable at home?
Theories about why employees are hesitant to return to the office range from the dread of wearing work clothes to long commutes. But maybe the most obvious reason is being overlooked: Do people believe anything has really changed if everything looks the same?
In offices around the world, organizations have adopted hybrid work policies, but haven’t changed their offices to support the new realities of hybrid work. Some say they’re waiting until employees are back in the office to make changes. But hybrid work means people will come and go at different times and, without changes, the office is often likely to feel empty and lack energy. After two years of isolation, who wants that? - Waldners
Offering spaces that support employee work styles - whether that is a private phone booth or comfy, open couch - will help productivity and boost motivation. Offer them a space they need. But what else will help bring employees back? Some companies are starting to think outside of the box at other incentives that will help draw employees back to the office:
“Our directors decided to take action. They introduced a free lunch program and asked HR to book the staff a different type of food truck for each day of the week.”-forbes
It is also important to acknowledge that technology will play a huge part in this hybrid model. With the office being more of a flexible space, companies will need to utilize the latest technologies to support it.
Reavis said, “To do this, you’ll need the right workplace technology that helps sync coworker schedules. Imagine the frustration of showing up on the day your teammates decide to work from home. Being together in a workplace helps us build closer-knit communities and a sense of belonging. This is critical in a hybrid world where people aren’t in the office every day.” - forbes
A SPACE THEY NEED.
Your office design influences your biggest assets – your property and your people. - Forbes
Not every company collaborates in the same way design firms do, but that does not mean a well designed environment couldn’t benefit their business. Average Americans spend 1/3rd of their life working, creating a comfortable and engaging environment can result in happier and more productive employees.
Refreshing your company's space planning and layout is a great way to give your employees a fresh perspective and outlook on their day - making them want to be there.
Does your office look like this? What are you doing to accommodate your employees' new work styles and processes? Are you giving them spaces they need to be productive?
The company’s strategies for creating offices that are not only fantastic places to work but that also enhance employee well-being, creativity and engagement go way beyond choosing nice décor and comfy chairs. A solid basis in ethnographic research, a policy of treating each business as an individual case that needs an individual solution, a strong dose of creativity and an emphasis on sustainability have led to success with clients as diverse as Talk Talk, eBay, Npower and Rackspace – whose office is complete with customized Mini Cooper and the reproduction of 10 Downing Street for meetings. It’s not just about spaces with wow factor, although that can be important – it’s all about spaces that empower employees and help businesses grow and thrive. - Forbes