There is nothing like the creative spark when colleagues challenge each other, live and in person. The trouble is that many of us have forgotten what a great office environment can be, dreading the commute and a potentially empty office at the other end.
Many workers and businesses have slid, unconsciously, into almost fully unsupported remote work. It’s the worst of all worlds. This is not the flexible/hybrid world we wanted.
Businesses don’t want to pay for underused office space but giving it up isn’t ideal either. The problem is partly facilitating colleague interaction, and partly promoting really effective hybrid work experiences. It’s a people, process, and technology challenge that leaders are looking to unpick.
Ideally, the modern workplace makes it easy for colleagues to meaningfully connect - and makes the environment, including the tech that ties people together - genuinely conducive to productive, shared activity. And as much as video calls can connect teams, it can be hard to build a real relationship in 2D. We’re still human beings, after all.
Make the most of the office experience and quality time together by supporting better hybrid work with these five tips.
Make it clear: Who’s in, out, and available to collaborate
Know where colleagues are, and plan to be, on a daily basis - if they’re open to connecting, and how. With the right visibility teams can connect on the fly, or plan the working style that they need to get meaningful work done.
A dedicated workplace management tool is better than relying on rotas that don’t reflect reality, or communications tools that only show if you’re online or in a meeting. Everyone wants to have a true overview of who comes into the office and when, to plan ahead. Continual polling or quick questions are a distraction. The right tools enable shared office days without advanced calendar logistics.
Deep focus work can take place at home if colleagues prefer, and creative and planning sessions in person, alongside social occasions and rewards. Better coordination improves efficiency, productivity and makes the working experience better.
Engineer serendipity: Mix things up
Many offices naturally moved to hot desking with the rise of hybrid working. But if there are more staff than desks, resource scarcity becomes a pressure. This is a challenge for start-ups just as much as global businesses.
Workplace management software makes for quick and efficient allocation, saving time in negotiation. Thanks to this technology an office manager can safeguard resources and users can find, query, and book what they need. Flexible desking also serves real people needs, encouraging teams to mix, make connections, or even just enjoy a more novel daily experience. Meeting neighbours offers the watercooler effect and maximises the chances of a creative spark. Crucially, it improves the flow of informal and corporate information and collaboration - great for new starters.
Improve the experience: Make the office the best place
According to Microsoft's 2022 Work Trend Index, 73 percent of employees want a better reason for coming to the office than the expectations of their leaders. Where hybrid work is working, you can understand why teams don’t see the value in doing what they’d do anywhere else, with a commute on top.
Professional leaders know that leading, managing, and building powerful teams takes work. Spending time together is important, psychologically. Ensure that colleagues get the team-building and social activities that help them click. Reduce the friction with experiences people value. This can range from local gym offers, meal subsidies, or simply buying a round of drinks to celebrate success.
When designing a productive, enjoyable environment, cover the cultural, technical and physical working aspects. Make socialising easy with spaces for colleagues to mix in. For collaboration, spaces where teams can brainstorm. For deep work, some quiet. Very practically, ergonomic office equipment like comfortable chairs and a second screen for those that need them, and some standing desks. No one wants to work in a ‘cubicle farm’ or a loud, echoing, open plan space all day.
The right leadership style is essential: People first
With new working styles and employee choices increasing it’s more important than ever for businesses to be people-oriented, focusing on their teams’ needs and values. A demotivated team needn’t hang around. Yes, technology is the foundation for modern and hybrid working, and business growth. But people are people, and soft skills remain vital.
Research and reflect on the right leadership style that will help your teams thrive in what is still, in workplace terms, a very new way of working together. Managers might naturally worry about remote teams completing tasks to high quality. Poorly managed remote or hybrid working could result in micromanagement, demotivation, stress and even quitting. Instead, leaders should be people-oriented and pay attention to the needs and values of their colleagues. There is a wealth of research, literature, and podcasts on strengthening teams and shaping the best practices.
Analyse: Track and optimise the environment
Across all areas of a business, digitisation improves employee experiences, productivity, and reduces costs. Bring that transformation into the practice of workplace management. The right solutions for tracking the use of desks, rooms, people and meetings allows important conclusions for use in design, purchasing, staffing, and people management.
Physical spaces, furniture, even rent can be better planned, scaled up or down, and problems like overspend uncovered. The right tools make it easy to gather user data to feed into senior decision-making that can improve profitability. On top of that, the right support, tools, and guidance can get to the people that need it: Home workers, hybrid, and the fully in-office, those that need deep thought, and the people that could become more productive when matched with an expert collaboration opportunity.
Better workplaces are better for employees and empower business success
In summary, planning the optimised workplace must connect people, places, assets, and spaces, and allow better coordination to achieve success.
Coordinated hybrid work increases the productivity and satisfaction of workers. Workplace management solutions can make returning to the office pleasant and uncomplicated. Alongside the right person-centred management style, it makes the workplace more attractive and progresses the future of work for everyone.