The business world witnessed a historic shift during 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Traditionally, working from home was considered a perk, it rapidly became the norm for most businesses. Despite the government restrictions and global shutdowns, technology such as digital workplace solutions meant many office-based businesses were able to survive the long disruption.
Now that restrictions are beginning to ease, business leaders must start to look at what the future of work and workplace arrangements will look like. Many employees have stated while they prefer to work remotely most of the time, due to the higher productivity and flexibility, it’s been noted there are some aspects of office working that are missed. Nearly 75% of Australian employees would be happy to have a mix of remote and onsite working, which is now being called the hybrid work model. This is in contrast to a full remote work model, where businesses no longer have a physical office space and all employees work remotely.
The big question is now to bring a fully remote workforce back into the office, and how much office space is required?
Instead of being full time remote or full time on site, many employees are now being offered the ability to work in the office a certain amount of days per week. This can depend on how the business is structured, but remote workers can reunite with their team one or two days a week, to collaborate and connect.
Traditionally, employees would go to the office because that’s where they went to work. Nowadays, physical spaces for work are more purposeful, as people come into the office for specific reasons, such as brainstorming sessions or collaborative meetings.
The days of rigid social and physical structures are gone, and instead, flexible and adaptable environments are possible, fostering enhanced employee experiences and teamwork, with more scope for creativity and connection.
What about the office?
It is likely to occur to businesses that they can save overhead costs on office real estate when shifting to a hybrid work model. While in some situations this might be the case, how your business operates and the number of people needing to be physically onsite at any time will inform how much physical floor space your company needs in the future.
Rather than completely abandoning office spaces, many businesses are choosing to reconfigure their spaces to meet the demands of a hybrid workforce. Types of work that require flexibility require a productive work environment, which includes elements of the traditional office work design. This might include communal spaces for collaboration hubs and team building, with apps to book office desks, and specific rooms for client meetings and face to face work sessions.
Facilitating all of these flexible work arrangements is technology, and digital tools that enable employees to easily transition between a return to the office and remote work.
How to create a hybrid workplace will depend on the company but it could include:
- Some employees permanently onside
- Teams operating on staggered schedules
- Most remote with scheduled face to face project meetings
- Mostly office-based with only a handful of employees working remotely.
However it is organised, the goal of a hybrid workplace is not to necessarily reduce the physical floor space used, but to balance the needs of each employee with the ability to connect, collaborate, and be productive in a shared office space. It also takes into consideration the health and wellbeing of on-site employees. It is not clear how long physical distancing guidelines will last in office spaces, so this can be the time to utilise the area and create space between workstations while fostering a sense of connection and inclusion.
One of the most crucial components of the hybrid workplace will be tools to bridge the gap no matter where employees work, or whether your business is repurposing office space or downsizing real estate.
Embracing technology that powers remote working will be at the heart of a seamless hybrid workplace. Solutions such as Microsoft 365 take advantage of cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools, to ensure all employees are on the same page, no matter where they work.
Changing the way your business operates can be fraught, especially when trying to foresee the future of workplace arrangements. Whether you are considering downsizing your office space or repurposing for a hybrid workforce, you need an IT partner who will ensure you have the best technology possible to deliver the best results for your business. Contact Lindentech’s technology experts today and find out how they can support your workplace transformation.