The topic of the hybrid office has been making headlines for nearly a year now. The New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg, Harvard Business Review, and many others have covered the conversation around this new development in the post-pandemic work world. Many companies are still learning about what a hybrid office is and how it would work successfully.
Many companies and even employees are deciding whether or not they prefer the traditional office model or hybrid. But before we get too far into the possible pros and cons of the hybrid office becoming the norm, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what a hybrid office actually is.
What is the Hybrid Office Model?
The hybrid office model seeks to find the most flexible fit for all employees. It’s not a new model, but it’s gaining immense popularity in a time where remote work is highly valued. There are two main aspects employers need to think through when creating a hybrid office: scheduling and office layout.
1. Scheduling for the Hybrid Office
First, employers need to determine who in the office will be remote or in-person and when. Some jobs lend themselves easily to working from home so long as they have an Internet connection. Other positions may need to be in the office more than others. It is then up to managers to decide which employees come into the office and when. Is it once or twice a week? One week in the office, one week out? Is it completely up to the discretion of the employees to decide when they need to be in person? Methods such as staggered scheduling are popular, as well as using the office’s layout to your advantage.
2. Hybrid Office Layout
Your current setup may not be ideal for a hybrid model. Hybrid office layout considerations should include spaces for collaboration as well as focused work. Some companies are downsizing their physical office buildings to go hybrid while others are keeping their original spaces with the hope they can find ways to best utilize it. Either way, we can help. CBI Group’s space planning experts have expertise in starting offices from scratch as well as reconfiguring existing layouts. Let us help you create the office layout that works best for your business.
Our best advice to you is to focus on spaces for collaboration, as that is the most likely reason for employees to visit the office. The best use of your space will be providing things like breakout areas and conference rooms or pods in addition to the desks you’d expect in a workplace. Get even more advice from us at one of our free consultations today.
Is Hybrid a Fad?
Now that it’s clear what a hybrid office entails, let’s have a candid conversation about why some people are in the anti-hybrid camp. In a poll of our LinkedIn followers, 21% said they believe hybrid offices won’t last. This is not an insignificant percentage, so it’s important to take this perspective into consideration. Many people in this group believe in the power of face-to-face connections. They may worry about the struggles of communicating through technology which is often known to malfunction, lag, or not work altogether when you need it most. Who hasn’t been on a video call and sighed after the tenth time coworkers have had to remind each other: “You’re on mute,” or “We can’t see your screen”? It’s frustrating. The office is also a great place for unstructured collaboration. Research shows that there is immense value in a team being able to have conversations and solve problems spontaneously and in the moment. It’s as simple as rolling your chair to your coworker’s desk when you have a question.
Or is Hybrid Here to Stay?
Our LinkedIn poll counted 75% of its engagers as hybrid office fans. They believe the hybrid office model is here to stay. Having the flexibility to work from home helps both with attracting talent as well as employee retention. Most people would also agree that a company with happy employees is usually better off than one with unhappy workers. It is also better for the planet to combine remote work with in person work. Office buildings create larger carbon footprints than individual residences and less commuting is better for the environment. However, it is important to state that most everyone who believes the hybrid office is the future does not believe we should do away with offices. As the Harvard Business Review states, the office is our social anchor and our schoolhouse: it is the place where we go to remind ourselves of the culture of our company and to learn from each other. Without the office as a company’s nucleus, it is easy to lose sight of what everyone is working towards.
The conversation about offices “going hybrid” doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. We hope this quick analysis starts conversations for you at work and at home about the ways we work best. You can always join in the conversation with us on social media, too! And as always: CBI Group is here to help you with any of your space planning needs.