Companies shifting to a hybrid model need to ensure physical spaces are flexible and collaborative in order to maximize the success of remote and on-site workers.
Vaccination rates and varying appetites for risk are leading organizations to view the road back to the office differently. But one thing that’s clear is that the days of skilled talent being tied to a physical job location are over. More workers desire the option to work remotely while companies facing economic uncertainty are willing to accommodate various employee models. In fact, 71% of organizations are planning to increase their use of contingent workers in the next 12 to 18 months.1
With this shift, employers need to reimagine both physical and virtual office spaces, revamping layouts to encourage collaboration and productivity for those working both on- and off-site. Here are three steps companies can take to ensure teams are ready to work from anywhere.
Rethink pre-pandemic layouts
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many managers operated from the premise that workers' performance and productivity were inextricably linked to time spent in the physical office. However, COVID-19 changed that mindset as companies around the world have discovered that productivity didn’t nosedive but, in many cases, increased during the year of remote work at home.2 At the same time, it introduced a level of work flexibility never seen before by workers in many countries.3
For companies that want to attract and retain an engaged workforce, rethinking office layouts to emphasize flexibility will be crucial. This means goodbye to cubicles and welcome to open, collaborative spaces – one of the top rules of the new hybrid model.4
For example, in the coming months, Salesforce’s physical offices, including those in the recently built 1,070-ft skyscraper in San Francisco, will be redesigned with “community hubs” that include collaboration and breakout spaces instead of rows of desks, according to Brent Hyder, the company’s president and Chief People Officer.5
Similarly, companies like Avant, which employs 475 people in tech-related positions, is introducing employees to a new way of working with the absence of assigned offices and workstations and the introduction of hot desking. Margaret Hermes, head of talent at Avant says employees seem really happy with the new arrangement. “Employees can make a decision to come into the office for a team meeting or to get out of their house on a given day, without making a longer-term commitment to be back in the office,” she said.
Focus on wellness
The mammoth changes taking place in offices globally are taking a physical and mental toll on workers. While employees appreciate the flexibility that remote work options bring, many are still feeling more stressed and isolated as they try to adjust to this new normal.6
While corporate yoga sessions or group walks during lunch may provide some health benefits, the new hybrid workplace is leading human resources professionals to consider wellness strategies that reach all employees, such as e-newsletters with tips on exercises you can do in your office chair or healthy lunchtime recipes that can help remote or onsite workers power through the workday.7
However, addressing employee health concerns needs to extend beyond exercise and nutrition tips. When managers work face-to-face with teams, it can be easier to interpret body language working with remote teams need to be extra vigilant to check in with and support workers who may be afraid to speak up about anxieties for fear of being perceived negatively. This may involve asking employees directly about their mental state and offering some potential solutions such as cultivating connections with colleagues or evaluating how a heavy workload can be reassigned to another team member.8
While many countries offer employee assistance programs for those who are managing stress issues there are also many mental health resources offered for free, such as meditation apps like Calm and Headspace, that can provide relief.9
Assess and improve technology capabilities
For many companies, physical workspaces are still the central location in which the executive teams reside as well as the crucial link to sustaining corporate culture.
Connecting workers to the corporate hub drives productivity and morale, which is why 74% of organizations have increased their investments in digital initiatives since the beginning of the pandemic.10
But it’s not always easy to navigate the multitude of digital tools that organizations implement. According to a recent Google guide on productivity, the average person switches between business apps and tools at least 25 times during their workday, which can significantly affect their focus and productivity levels. Thirty-five percent of workers also say they sometimes can't access the right people or groups because of technical issues.11
To counter this, companies need to assess where they are in their own path to digital maturity. Human resources and IT teams need to invest time to understand the needs of employees and experiment with flexibility-supporting technology, as well as provide accessible training for new tools that will help support flexible work.12
The new hybrid work environment is full of great possibilities for organizations that are committed to reimaging their spaces, supporting employee wellness and leading on digital transformation. ManpowerGroup is here to support your journey to the Future of Work.