For the better part of a year, most of the country’s workforce has been working from home. As employees have become more accustomed to a non-commute, flexible hours, and the ability to sit on a couch during the day, they may not want to return to working in the office full time. So what does that mean for employers? You may not need the same office space you required before COVID-19. Enter the hybrid office!
Before we go any further, let’s first cover what a hybrid-style office is. Hybrid offices are made up of several features, including:
- Individual work spaces: Desks, private rooms, cubicles, and phone booths
- Open areas and work spaces: Lounge areas, couches, and coffee shop-esque seating
This may sound like most modern or startup office layouts, and you’re not that far off. We’re not claiming they are the newest thing in corporate America. However, your company may be due for a transition from a more traditional office setting to a hybrid office setting. Let cover why it may be better for your employees.
Easier transition back
Like we mentioned in the beginning of this blog, your employees have been working from home for a while now. After this amount of time, working from a casual, homey environment is their new normal. Implementing elements to your office that up the comfort level can help them readapt to the new corporate life.
A more casual office environment also opens the opportunity for hot desking. Hot desking is when employees don’t have an assigned desk, but instead have the option to work from any desk (within reason) in the office. Again, this isn’t a new concept by any means, but now is a great time to try it.
Your employees will not have seen each other in person in over a year. They will want the ability to catch up, converse, and work together when they eventually return. This will work especially well for your employees who aren’t going to work from the office every day. If people from different teams need or want to sit near each other, they shouldn’t feel like they’re intruding on another person’s space.
This also eliminates the feel of having to work at a desk. If you’re going to embrace a hybrid office environment, your employees should feel like they have the freedom to work around the office, not only at their desk. They probably aren’t working exclusively at their desk right now. Why should they have to when they return?
Working in an open space means having more open conversations. When your employees don’t feel confined to their desks, they will feel more open to collaboration. That means providing small meeting rooms or tables will also give your employees and teams more space to meet with each other. In fact, that’s also what everyone has been missing the most during this time — the ability to collaborate organically with coworkers without scheduling a Zoom meeting.
Have you ever had someone sitting at your desk with their chair, laptop, and notebook? It can get pretty crowded, pretty quickly. These small rooms or tables are perfect for impromptu meetings and can be a nice change of scenery.
This also means communicating the use of the office. Make it known to your employees that the entire office is made for collaboration. Make it known that you’re providing them a space to meet for planned or spontaneous meetings. The future of the hybrid office concept is to make your office space an extension of your employees’ homes in a way. The way we communicate, meet, and work has completely changed, and your office will need to accept and accommodate those changes.
Taking a break
Returning to the office is going to be a physical and mental change for your employees. They will be back in a space they haven’t been to in over a year. They will require some time for adjustment again. A hybrid office means giving them space to take a break from their work when they need it.
While working from home, your employees are able to take breaks that help them relax as much as possible. Maybe that’s reading a few chapters on the couch, or watching an episode of their current Netflix binge during their lunch break. Whatever their preferred method of relaxation is, it’s easier to do at home. To replicate that enough to make coming back to work seem appealing, you can provide them areas of relaxation in the office. They’ve proven they can balance work and life while being stuck in the house, so give them the same amount of respect in the office. Why would they come back in regularly if they can’t have time to themselves at work?