The way your office space is utilized can make a huge difference in how productive your workplace is.
It even affects how your employees communicate with each other and how the office functions each day.
But offices have changed a lot in the last few years. The rise of hybrid working and practices like hot-desking and desk hotelling has freed up lots of space in offices worldwide.
Why? Because that’s what employees want in a post-pandemic world.
In fact, according to Microsoft, 70% of workers want remote work options to continue, but over 65% want to see their colleagues in person again. So hybrid working offers everyone the best of both worlds.
And that’s why Microsoft found that 66% of business decision-makers are considering redesigning office spaces to meet the needs of hybrid work environments. Here’s why they’re making changes and why your organization should too.
What are the benefits of planning your office space for hybrid working?
Improves employee experience
An office that fits the needs of today will inevitably offer your employees a better experience. And that’s really important if you’re asking your teams to commute to work again — even if it’s only a few days each week.
Creating workspaces that focus on activity-based working instead of the traditional assigned desk model is a great way to help entice people back into the office and help employees build better connections.
Removes risk of overcrowding or not using office space
Planning your office space effectively for hybrid working includes having systems in place for booking rooms and desks.
Doing this means removing the risk of rooms becoming overcrowded, which is essential when employees may still have COVID-related concerns about being back in the office.
It also helps to make sure that you’re not under-utilizing space. An office that’s effectively set up for hybrid working will make the most of every area. Since you won’t need big banks of assigned seating you can reconfigure your office to include different types of work spaces.
Activity-based working is a great way to make sure you’re making the most of your space. By setting up some desks for hot-desking or desk hotelling and dedicating the rest of your space for meetings, collaboration, and socializing, you can make sure people have places to work independently and places to work together when they’re in the office.
Improves collaboration and social interaction
Speaking of working together… a hybrid office should encourage better communication and collaboration between colleagues.
Gone are the days of assigned desks and solo, siloed working— the office should be somewhere where teams are energized by face-to-face collaboration.
Workers want to come into the office to be around other people. After all, that’s what we’ve all been missing the most while working remotely. Social interaction must be high up on your list of priorities when planning your office space for hybrid working.
How to plan your office space for hybrid working?
So, how do you go about making sure your space is set up effectively for hybrid working?
One of the biggest benefits of remote working throughout the pandemic was comfort.
After two years of working from their own homes, your teams will be used to feeling relaxed and comfortable while working.
After all, their work environments have been filled with the creature comforts of home (and sometimes the creatures of home too — we’ve seen all those cats and puppies on video calls!)
So, if you want your teams to spend some days in the office, it’s important that your office space needs to offer as much comfort as possible.
Try to incorporate lots of natural lighting and functional but comfortable furniture. It might also be a good idea to update the office decor, paint, and carpet with warmer, cosier colours.
Since social connection is one of the biggest reasons workers want to return to the office, it’s important to create an office space with a real community feel.
Incorporate more centrally located, communal spaces where colleagues can catch up.
It’s a good idea to include sofas or other comfy seating in these spaces so employees feel like they’re stepping away from their work and being a part of a social community.
You may even consider bringing in lunchtime exercise or mindfulness classes. This will make your office space feel more like a hub of activity and give your teams somewhere to get to know each other in a space that’s separate from their work.
As an added bonus, social spaces can be used for small, informal meetings throughout the day.
Connectivity is closely linked to community but is more focused on how easily your teams can collaborate when working with remote colleagues.
Make sure your office space offers areas for video calls, online training, and remote interviews.
Think about the different spaces that your teams may need to connect effectively with remote colleagues. Private pods for workers who might want privacy on a Zoom or Teams meeting are a good idea.
And for colleagues who thrive off being in a busy, noisier environment, make sure there are lots of communal desk spaces available too.
Functionality and ease
Today’s workers want office spaces that are just as easy to work in as their home office.
So, make sure your rooms aren’t overcrowded with desks or people. Allow plenty of open space so employees can quickly and easily walk across the room and chat to their co-workers.
And, most importantly, make sure that meeting rooms are organized and booked to make working in the office easy and streamlined!