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Hybrid work & the office – why, how & what?

Hoca

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Designing an optimal employee experience in a hybrid working setup requires careful consideration and planning. Just like designing a user-friendly website, the goal is to create a purposeful and user-centric office space that meets employees’ needs. What matters is the nature of the business, understanding employees’ working preferences, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

Calling people back to office spaces that were designed decades ago doesn’t add much value. Making someone sit in a cubicle to perform tasks that could be done elsewhere isn’t the way to go. Using a power relationship to put employees in front of an ultimatum is… sad. Instead, companies should be intentional about designing an office experience that responds to today’s digital collaboration principles as well as the people’s expectations.

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What’s the role of an office?​


The concept of work-life balance is evolving towards work-life integration. This means that strict 9 to 5 working patterns are being replaced by flexible working approaches. What matters are the goals, deliverables and collaboration. That’s why, we need to respond to a basic question: How can we empower individuals to fulfill their responsibilities in a way that works best for them and the whole team? The response is that we should aim for clear performance metrics, transparent feedback processes as well as creating conditions to make this happen. It’s become clear now that people-centric workspaces may facilitate collaboration, deep work, socialization, and even opportunities for exercise or connecting with nature. In other words, today’s office spaces should be designed with the employee experience in mind, creating an environment that people are drawn to and that competes with the comfort of their homes. It’s the only way for a physical workspace to add true value to the business.

Would you expect a website to perform well without any UX? Of course not. The same applies to offices.

Now, let’s delve into the practical aspects of building a workspace strategy within a hybrid work model. First things first. Begin by assessing the current office capacity and answer questions such as the number of employees attending the office as well as future hiring plans. Consider the availability of virtual collaboration spaces too. Then, gather input from employees regarding their preferences for flexibility, commuting challenges, and desired frequency of office attendance if given complete freedom. Basically, we must do our homework properly before we rush into implementation.



A hybrid workspace business case​


It’s essential to look at this topic from a holistic perspective. In other words, we must make sure to engage with the leadership team to discuss the role of the office in the hybrid work setup. That’s how we can evaluate its effectiveness to begin with. Explore how productivity is being measured and whether tracking office attendance is even necessary (it’s most probably NOT…). We must remember that commuting doesn’t have to mean commitment but simply… obedience. What’s worth more from a business perspective? Give it a thought.

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Also, a mature approach towards hybrid work is data-driven. We must figure out what metrics will inform us about the relevance of office attendance. How will we compare office work vs. remote work? Unfortunately, most companies that are calling people back to the office can’t express the impact of office attendance against productivity. So, analyzing the collected data, drawing conclusions, and preparing a compelling business case based on the findings is the foundation towards intentional hybrid work planning.



Hybrid work isn’t a mix of the old normal and the new normal​


If we ask people about the definition of “hybrid work”, they usually respond that it’s a combination of the office and work from home. Most probably, they’ll also refer to a 3:2 or 2:3 model. If we ask them to justify it, they usually have no clue. …And here’s the massive clash. Nobody knows what’s going on. The leadership pushes for office attendance, the managers try to “convince” team members and what we’re getting is a culture of obedience instead of engagement and intentionality. Well, that’s far from hybrid work should be.

The current state of office spaces bears resemblance to what has occurred in the retail sector. In the past, leaving one’s home was a necessity for shopping purposes. Today, we can accomplish the same while staying at home, thanks to the flourishing e-commerce industry. Nevertheless, despite the existence of online shopping, physical shopping malls continue to thrive. People willingly spend their time there. While some individuals never shop online and others do so occasionally, many still desire the tangible experience. They want to touch the products, be in the company of others, and just enjoy shopping. All this serves as an excellent illustration of how we can begin to reshape our approach towards hybrid work and office spaces.




The post Hybrid work & the office – why, how & what? appeared first on Nadia Harris.
 
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