Hybrid or blended working is an approach that combines the benefits of home and remote/mobile working in a flexible way; it empowers the individual to work from anywhere that best suits, whether that’s at home, in the office, a coffee shop or on the move between locations.
Why embrace the blended/hybrid workplace model?
Hybrid working reinforces the premise that work is no longer a place; it’s an activity. It offers both employers and employees a wealth of benefits if adopted and implemented successfully.
|Blended working for employees||Blended working for employers|
|For employees, they gain greater control over their work-life balance, savings on commuting time and costs and a greater sense of purpose with ownership over their time, space and outcomes.||The blended approach is a key driver in attracting and retaining talent and reducing absence rates. It also improves employee engagement and presents opportunities to reduce real estate and facilities costs.|
How do we create a safe and compelling working environment that supports a hybrid working model?
As businesses review their workspace, they’re all too aware that employee expectations have changed since the pandemic. Employees want the office environment to provide the same autonomy they get from working remotely with the added benefit of face-to-face collaboration, flexible work areas, access to alternative tools and technology and opportunities for seamless migration between different work modes.
Creating an authentic workplace community not only contributes to people’s wellbeing; it leads to better business outcomes too. People feeling part of a community boosts productivity, engagement, innovation and commitment. It’s no surprise then that people rank ‘connection to people’ and ‘purpose’ among the top reasons for wanting to return to the workplace, which presents leaders with an opportunity to drive engagement and ‘build back better’.
A hybrid/blended working approach relies on a robust company culture and an environment that backs it up. Company culture becomes more than ‘brand identity’ and a ‘mission statement’ in the hybrid working model; It aligns objectives so that employers and employees have shared outcomes. It supports growth, connectivity, innovation, creativity and wellbeing with people at the heart of an organisation’s culture.
What might a hybrid office design include?
- Eco-system of interrelated zones which support the different types, intensity and activities of work; they give people choice and control over how and where they work. The size, ratio and adjacency of each zone is tailored to suit both the business objectives and cultural expectations.
- Employees are untethered from their desks with mobile technology
- Digital collaborative tools which allow meeting participants to share content whether they’re physically in the meeting or working remotely.
- Designed so senior leadership is more accessible (positioned in the midst of the flow of ideas and people), while still providing access to private areas for focus.
- Bespoke layouts to encourage collisions which kick-start creativity and innovation.
- Acoustic privacy allowing focus with no disruptions (confidential conversations).
- Showers and other facilities that accommodate those finding healthy alternatives to public transport.
- The presence of biophilia (bringing the outside in – using different hues, textures and colours). People have an innate desire to connect with nature in the workplace and it provides an opportunity to rejuvenate at work.
- A diversity of spaces where people desire to be, where they can focus, collaborate and rejuvenate seamlessly.
- Web based room scheduling systems (with real time data) to streamline meetings.
- Informal lounge settings (configured to achieve privacy and focus in open areas).
- A communal atmosphere to allow people to shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’ activities.
Getting the balance right in a hybrid working environment
Is blended working or the hybrid workplace the future?
The office/workplace is a critical tool for remaining competitive, by fostering innovation for growth that can only be achieved when people work effectively together (face-to-face). It also serves as a powerful expression of an organisation’s brand and culture with clients and employees at its centre. Working remotely offers employees more time for family and friends, reduced commuting time and costs and for some, a greater ability to focus with fewer distractions.
In order for hybrid working to be truly successful, employers and employees require the flexibility (choice and ease) to work in a way that is best suited to them. Those organisations with the right working environment and a leadership style where employees have more autonomy and freedom to make decisions that align with the business goals and strategies, will find themselves in a more competitive position.