Essential Ingredients to a Successful Hybrid Office
If you’re like nearly everyone else, you are scrambling to pull together a return-to-office plan as cases decrease and vaccinations steadily increase.
The new digital workplace is found at the intersection between virtual and physical environments, one that’s being referred to as the ‘hybrid’ space.
The challenge is successfully creating a hybrid space that balances maintaining employees’ flexibility that they have been enjoying, and creating an office that supports company culture, collaboration, and talent attraction.
We’ve summarized the seven essential components to achieving this equilibrium. Read on to learn how to implement them, and how they set you up for success.
Essential Ingredients to a Hybrid Workplace
The success of hybrid workplace is going to hinge on the resources and tools that employees have available to them to best do their jobs as they did prior to working from home. This is much easier said than done, as 83% of employees have concerns over hybrid work due to how it may impact their careers on top of communication concerns.
So, the question stands – what is essential to making a hybrid workplace run smoothly while successfully accommodating employees needs that have become mainstays in their work routines over the pandemic?
Digitize everything (if you haven’t already)
Digitizing of the workplace and work processes is a fundamental prerequisite to hybrid working, without this your employees cannot hope to achieve hybrid work if they continually find themselves having to go into the office to grab documents or resources needed for their job.
If you can’t do your work without going into the office first, why not stay there?
The efforts of digitizing as many work processes as possible will prove to be beneficial for all employees both at home and in the office to use as they see fit as it will give them increased connectivity and prevent issues impeding work. Employees at home will be capable of sharing information, data, and video calls with those at home for meetings and collaboration should it be necessary.
How can the digital workplace function with increased levels of data sharing and collaboration? The answer is the integration of cloud-based software capabilities. Data collection and data sharing is the basis of hybrid work, and cloud-based software makes this much easier.
Further, the innovation and upgrade possibilities for cloud-based software means that it can be upgraded as needed without interference as physical maintenance does. This also means greater flexibility and faster ROI for cloud-based business processes as the benefits can be seen immediately and shared across all employees simultaneously.
While cloud software will allow for storage and data sharing, technology that connects employees for collaboration is equally as important.
Hybrid meeting technology
While data sharing and storage can be done with the cloud, proper technology and resources are needed to support meetings and collaborative work between those who are in the office and those who choose to remain at home.
Of course, we have all become accustomed to Zoom meetings and Microsoft teams calls, however the ebb and flow of a face-to-face conversation is still absent despite even the closest of work cultures. Choosing the right technology will be important as employees must work together over calls and if adequate technology is not present it puts those who remain at home at a disadvantage, seemingly punishing them for remaining at home.
Choosing the right collaborative technology based on what the business and employees need, rather than what they think is best value will be vital in shaping how hybrid workplaces function on a day-to-day basis and serve occupants.
Mobile apps are convenient and widely applicable pieces of technology that can be applied to the hybrid workplace to streamline processes and improve overall quality of life for employees. Mobile apps in the hybrid workplace can serve several functions from key cards to scanning in/out certain resources and supplies.
A functionality that should be a staple in the new-look workplace that lends itself to mobile apps is booking of collaborative spaces or meeting rooms through an IWMS application for groups to gather. This would additionally display which desks are reserved and occupied for desk hoteling as there will be a cycle of employees rotating through the office on different days.
This of course would not be possible without a connective system.
Hybrid workplaces and the technology required to guarantee smooth operations and quality of life improvements need a connective system between all technologies that work together, this is where the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies.
Simply put, the IoT systems integrated into the hybrid workplace will allow for all systems to connect to one another and share information. The booking system on the mobile app will share information with the sensors on the desks or the meeting rooms to communicate vacancy, occupancy will be shared on the IWMS from the front door using key card data, and lighting and energy systems will share information with the IWMS to regulate light levels and similar systems.
This allows for an optimized office system that shares information, ensures that all facets of the office are running smoothly and create a comfortable as well as inviting working environment for employees.
Attractive office design
The final piece of the digital workplace is using technology to create an inclusive and functional work environment based on the employees’ needs. Employee needs are changing, and the office should be adaptable to these needs in order to best fit evolving work styles.
An ideal hybrid workplace design will incorporate technology, space, and people to create the optimal work environment. Hybrid work and less occupied desks will mean there is increased space for collaboration or relaxation areas rather than a maze of desks and cubicles as many were used to.
An attractive office design leveraging new technology will mean a more attractive destination for recruits and prospective employees and will undoubtedly fuel the future of corporate hiring.
Use data to always be improving
Improvement upon hybrid workplaces and their technologies will depend on the use of data collected from IoT systems as well as the IWMS in the buildings. These systems collecting data from sensors, facilities, and platforms to measure how an office is operating means that managers can pull from this data where things may be needing more attention or investment and what areas of the office are not being used as much and redirect funding to areas that could use more.
At the end of the day, adaptation is vital to the continued success of the workplace, as we have seen following the pandemic as businesses learned how to accommodate their employees to suit changing needs and work processes.
The trend of hybrid work is no longer a trend and has become a movement transforming offices around the world. Digitizing has opened new space for innovation and changing office plans while office space is being reimagined from the mazes of desks that we once knew.
Using IWMS and IoT to leverage the best possible experience for employees, modern offices and workplaces are going to look very different in the coming years and beyond as employers learn to adapt to employee needs to optimize their business and get the most from the physical space they work in, rather than just the employees who occupy it, giving them the best possible environment to thrive.