Hybrid workplaces and flexible schedules need the right support from employers
Hybrid work is here to stay. Return to office mandates are rolling out across the country in different forms, but the message is clear – in person work is back. This is being met with varying degrees of acceptance, but rather than focus on that, we’re going to zero in on how to best support a hybrid office.
Ironing out hybrid work schedules and how things are going to work was never going to be an overnight thing. As much as CEOs like Elon Musk thought it could be solved with a company-wide email saying, “return to work full time or else” it’s not that simple. There are layers and nuances to figuring out hybrid work that no one seems to have fully nailed down on a large scale yet.
If you want more on hybrid work and flexible office strategies, check out these:
- Hybrid Work Model Best Practices
- Space Management for the Hybrid Office
- Productivity & Design: A Change in Focus
Put People First
You’re not asking robots to come to work, there are changes and impacts to commuting to work again after adjusting to a remote lifestyle for 3 years. There’s more and more talk around putting people first and the needs of people in the workplace.
Employees are asking for more out of their workplace; from cleaner offices, updated workstations, to a more supportive culture in the office. Hybrid work strategy must be designed with the people in mind. Including days where everybody is in the office for the purpose of organizational culture and support is a good place to start.
Rather than hoping paths cross on one of the few days people choose to be in person, everybody in the office one day a week, or once a month to build culture and connection. Connection and the social aspect of being in the office is one thing remote work can’t offer, and has shown to be beneficial to the organization as well as to employees.
Outside of 1 day a week, let teams figure out their hybrid schedule to fit how they work. Internal agreements between each team or group will mean they’re using the office space when and how they need to, not just because they’re told to. Hybrid work is meant to be flexible, and giving people the flexibility to decide on their schedules is likely to increase traffic in the office if it’s truly on their terms.
Invest in Space
The physical office space people will be returning to is going to play a large role in how well-received and sustainable a return to office plan is in any capacity. Studies are finding that few workplaces are ready to receive people back in a completely hybrid setup full time. Making sure that the buildings people are returning to are ready to support a hybrid work environment is important. Otherwise, you could end up trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Offering different spaces within the office that cater to the needs of the modern employee is one way to make sure hybrid work is sustainable. Conference and meeting rooms, social or independent work rooms or areas, and ensuring that there are amenities nearby are all emerging as priorities when designing the modern office. Coworking spaces are one iteration of this, and are seeing success with the Canadian Federal Government in Ottawa. Part of their “workplace 3.0” initiative, these coworking buildings are meant to be a step away from the previous cubicle mazes and offer a more flexible environment.
To get the most out of the office, consider deploying digital solutions to help track things like occupancy, desk booking, and foot traffic. By referencing data on these over time, these reports can be used to see what areas are being used and which could benefit from some investment or changes in the space to be more impactful.
The philosophy around the modern office is that it should be a destination for work. Offering tangible benefits to the space can change how people use the office over time. Small additions to the design of an office can, over time, change how people use and interact with the office as a whole and eventually the culture of the workplace itself.
Have An Infinite Mindset
Simon Sinek, an author on workplace leadership and success writes about approaching business and all activities within it as an infinite game, meaning that instead of seeing a set end point to reach, decisions and impact should be long-lasting.
What does this have to do with returning to the office? The decisions that are made not only to get people back but to keep them there should continue to be made past the first month or year of employees being back. Consistent support and revisiting of what is working vs what needs improvement.
Take digital transformation, something that by now is a staple in the modern office. So much so that the Government of Canada has committed to digital transformation initiatives for delivery of Government and Services in 2022 and beyond. This is not an initiative that ends when people are back in the office with new software. This will be a core part of the Public Service operations and practices for years to come.
Supporting Long-term Goals
Workplace solutions with robust reporting capabilities like Archibus are already being used by organizations to support return to office as well as to fulfill digital transformation commitments. Choosing the right tools for digital solutions that are accessible and easy to use are going to make long-term transformation easier and more adaptable for new employees.
Go beyond getting people into a hybrid environment and focus on the continued support of employees in a modern workplace. This is a surefire way to not only retain happy employees but build a hybrid work culture that lasts, and people want to be a part of. Investing in the right space, technology and programs should be a consistent priority. What works at the start may not work in 5 years, as we’ve learned through recent experiences.
There’s no definite formula for hybrid work just yet. But knowing that it starts with people is the best bet for success. Giving your teams the tools and support they need to make their schedule work is going to give them a sense of trust that will only be reciprocated into the organization. As a result, we’re seeing large organizations like the Canadian public service use digital transformation and space management as core tenants to making their new return to office mandate a success.
Deploying tools that have reporting capabilities that support initiatives now and, in the future, and that employees can use to make not only return to the office – but also their future in the office.
Getting started with the return to office tools? We currently service several private and public sector organizations with workplace solutions to help get support for their teams’ hybrid work environments. You can visit our website for more information if this article has been helpful or want to book a free consultation.