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Employees are returning to the office everywhere, but they’re using office space differently than they did before.
Most want the freedom to work remotely for at least part of the week and come in when they need to collaborate closely with others or focus on deep work.
A hybrid office gives them that flexibility while potentially reducing overhead costs for employers. Instead of needing a dedicated desk for every employee and leasing new office space each time the team expands, they can make workspaces reservable.
This trend was already becoming popular, but it’s exploding in the post-pandemic era. Employees have become accustomed to working from home and social distancing, and they may not be eager to return to an office where they’re sitting shoulder to shoulder five days a week.
Fortunately, many companies already had an agile workplace that transitioned well into a hybrid office. Here’s a closer look at what a hybrid office looks like and eight examples of companies that have adopted it.
A hybrid office is designed to support both in-person collaboration and remote work. Unlike an agile work environment, which makes it easy for employees to choose from different types of spaces while they’re in the office, a hybrid office assumes employees will be moving more frequently between home and the office.
It should make it easy for employees to meet with team members whether they’re face to face or working remotely.
Elements of a hybrid office include:
A hybrid office improves productivity by making it easy for employees to make the most of their day no matter where they’re working. They shouldn’t have to spend their first 15 minutes finding a place to work and getting set up or tracking down colleagues who may not even be in the office that day. The hybrid model also improves the employee experience by giving everyone a better work-life balance and more freedom to choose where they work, based on the work they’re doing and their own individual work styles.
This can help you retain existing employees at a time when the rates of burnout and overall dissatisfaction are high. It also makes your company more appealing to prospective employees and clients.
Service Express offers data center maintenance and support to help IT professionals reduce costs.
Space planner Amanda Hamberg said the leadership team was thrilled to experience continued growth during the pandemic and updated its office design accordingly.
“We have been committed to providing a space that allows our teams to collaborate in an environment that reflects our “People-Powered” mission,” she said in a LinkedIn post.
Architecture firm Perkins&Will was already designing a new hybrid office before the pandemic began. The company wanted to test out different design concepts and technologies in its own space before recommending them to its clients. Company leaders also wanted to study office behaviors and use what it learned to optimize future office spaces.
The office opened in the fall with limited capacity and features flexible furniture, a large open space that serves as a common area, “project zones” for team collaboration, and unassigned seating.
“For the way we work, even though having an unassigned seat was a challenge at the beginning, it made more sense to have more variety in work settings, to have collaboration areas that would allow teams to come together,” said Mariana Giraldo in an interview with Green Building & Design. “What is the best use of the space, and how does that end up supporting our culture and our work? That is really what we’re focusing on.”
Building and Land Technology develops, owns, manages, and invests in more than 25 million square feet of real estate. The company designed what it calls the “post-COVID prototype” for hybrid offices.
It features a meeting space called The Cube, designed specifically for meetings and visitors and equipped with all the technology you need to interact with people in person and virtually. It features a large screen, high-quality conference room speakers, and webcams that give virtual attendees the feeling that they’re right in the middle of the action.
“If you take the advice of scientists and apply it to technologies and training for employees, you can certainly get back into the office safely,” said Mike Handler, co-president of BLT, in a video. “What we’ve experienced is a dramatic improvement in terms of our ability to collaborate and get work done. I don’t think there’s any doubt in our minds that getting back into the office has been a positive step.”
Source: The LEGO Group
The LEGO Group needs no introduction, but many may not realize the company is still privately held by the same family who founded it in 1932. Although it opened its new headquarters at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic, the office is well-equipped to support hybrid work. The design by C.F. Moller Architects uses LEGO brick shapes to add a playful feel, but it’s also incredibly functional. Its roof is covered with solar panels that provide enough energy to power half the campus, according to Spacestor.
There are also plenty of play areas, outdoor parks and lounges for employees to collaborate, as well as an auditorium, fitness center, and cafe.
Checkr, a technology company that uses artificial intelligence to help companies conduct background checks in less time, wanted a hybrid office space that reflected its young, innovative company culture. The company hired Studio BBA to design a donut-shaped office space with break areas on each floor to encourage employees to move freely around the building, according to an article in Spacestor.
It features a jazz bar, yoga lounge, a library, and a multi-purpose cafeteria. With wall-sized windows, there is plenty of natural light throughout the space.
Accounting firm Crowe UK wanted its hybrid workplace to feel welcoming to both employees and clients. It hired workplace design firm Oktra to give it better functionality and a more modern appeal.
The new office design includes a variety of meeting spaces and a large, activity-based workspace for clients. They can meet with others when they arrive or reserve private phone booths to work quietly or make phone calls.
The patterned flooring pays tribute to the trainline that runs beneath its building, while a large tree in the center connects employees and visitors to nature.
Source: Office Lovin
The Coven, a coworking space for women, transgender and non-binary individuals wanted to emphasize female empowerment in its hybrid office design. Design firm Studio BV created an office space featuring colorful soft furniture, decorative lighting, and a custom floor mosaic. The walls are filled with artwork by female artists.
They are important elements in the design and create a canvas that express community and diversity,” Studio BV said in an Office Lovin article.
Source: NELSON Worldwide
Industrious is another coworking company with more than 100 locations across the world built specifically for hybrid work. Companies can reserve these spaces for small groups of employees or individuals who need dedicated office space without committing to a long-term lease.
NELSON Worldwide designed the Scottsdale office, located inside a mall. The office space features a desert landscape, warm wood, and metal elements. It also has a mix of desk space for solo work and plenty of comfortable seating for team collaboration.
The best office designs can go a long way to improve productivity and engagement, but they are just one aspect of a successful hybrid workplace.
You also need to have the right policies and technology so employees feel comfortable navigating the new space. Follow these three recommendations.
First, you need clear guidelines for hybrid work. That includes a remote work policy that specifies which employees are permitted to work remotely and when. The policy should also state when employees are expected to be available, how they will be expected to communicate with others, and how soon they should respond during a typical workday.
While surveys show most employees are eager to return to the office, many have concerns about hot desking. This informal workplace strategy allows anyone to claim a desk on a first-come, first-served basis, which can be frustrating for employees who come in later in the day. Employees also have understandable concerns about keeping shared workspaces clean.
Desk booking software and a mobile app that makes it easy for employees to see which desks or rooms are available and reserve them in advance or at a moment’s notice can ease these concerns. You can also use reservation software to print reports showing which spaces employees recently used so your facilities team can keep them clean.
A hybrid office constantly adapts to support employees’ changing needs. That’s why it’s critical to gather input and optimize accordingly. You can ask employees for feedback in both informal and formal ways. For instance, you can start a conversation during a company meeting or host smaller “town hall” sessions to learn more about what’s working and what isn’t.
Employee feedback surveys can also give you valuable insight. However, if you want to understand actual space utilization, you’ll need to gather data from occupancy sensors. Sensors can give you valuable metrics such as peak occupancy, average daily occupancy, and how often employees use private spaces compared to collaborative ones.
Based on this information, you can make adjustments accordingly. If your private spaces have more than 90% occupancy during a typical work day, for instance, you probably need to add more of them.
iOFFICE has all the technology you need to support your new hybrid office as you reopen, from space planning and reservation software to wayfinding, sensors, and an employee mobile app. Learn more about our solutions for hybrid work.
Ann DiPietro is an enterprise sales executive at iOFFICE.