What to Consider When Designing A Hybrid Office

September 7, 2021

Author: Staples Professional Inc.

Office life as we know it has changed, and as organizations begin to move towards a hybrid model, leaders are reimagining what it means to come into the office to work alongside colleagues, and what that physical space will look like.

What are the opportunities for success as we work from anywhere?

“The biggest challenge companies are facing is the complexity of the topic — there are just so many options when it comes to designing an office for the new way of work,” says Jan Johnson, VP of Workplace Strategy at Allsteel, a company that designs furnishings and architectural products for a wide range of environments.

What’s more, there is no right or wrong approach because one size does not fit all. As you work through your office’s refresh, here are a few things to consider.

Employees want flexibility

According to Gartner, about one-third of newly remote or hybrid employees reported that their organization’s culture has changed since starting to work remotely — and most of them say it’s for the better.

The hybrid models give employees the flexibility to choose where they work from, which in turn improves performance. And when employees perform better, so does the company. “When leaders give their employees autonomy over their work environment, it can help with burnout and make employees feel empowered,” says Johnson.

It’s all about equity and social cohesion

Giving employees the ability to work from anywhere can pose a seat-planning challenge, but Johnson says that it’s critical that the environments are created with equity in mind. That means considering each employee’s individual needs. Equity in the workplace can also mean equal access to opportunities no matter if you work remotely, in-office or hybrid.

Social cohesion (the chemistry of working relationships) should also be considered when developing a workplace strategy, says Johnson. In fact, social cohesion is scientifically proven to increase team productivity. “When we have an environment where we trust and respect each other, are interested in mutual success and feel like we belong, it keeps us engaged to do our best work,” she says.

The function of the office is changing

The office used to be a place where we’d go to get all our work done, but moving forward, we’ll begin to see company headquarters shift toward becoming a space for collaboration and social connection. While spaces for solo head-down work will remain in the form of bookable hot desks and privacy boxes, there will be an uptick in team “neighbourhoods” and casual lounge areas — perfect for brainstorms or working collaboratively on team presentations.

While these office design changes can sound overwhelming, it can be kept simple by using a planning module, a conceptual office design approach offered by Staples Professional Workplace Design Services, that can be used to create blocks of spaces that respond to the unique dimensions of your building. For example, you might choose to block out a space for solo or team settings to create a “menu” of planning modules that give you plug-and-play capabilities for simplified planning, budgeting and change. This approach allows you to adapt and fine-tune your space over time as your workplace evolves.

“When it comes to configuring what your office looks like, there’s no right or wrong,” says Sandra Vyse, National Sales and Strategy Director for Furniture, Tech, Print, Promo at Staples Professional. “What will be most important is what works for your business.”

Whether you’re a business with 20 or 200 employees, Staples Professional’s Workplace Design Services team can work collaboratively with you on furniture and design solutions tailored to your needs.

In conclusion

There is no single approach to a reimagined workplace, but as your organization works towards it, here are a few takeaways to keep in mind:

– Set expectations that allow for flexibility and the empowerment of people.
– Plan for a space that allows for continuous evolution. Modularity can allow organizations to keep up with the changing landscape.
– Rethink how spaces can be used for collaboration and connection.
– Focus on what is right for your business and workforce.

Missed our Spotlight session on Designing the Future Office to Reflect the New World of Work? Stream the event now. Plus, learn more about Staples Professional’s Workplace Design Services and how you can start reimagining your workplace by booking a free design consultation.

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