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  • Writer's pictureDavid George

Is Your Office Working?

People celebrating in a meeting

Why and How Hybrid Working Influences Office Design.


With 69% of U.S. companies adopting hybrid working, a large proportion of offices designed pre-pandemic will do little to optimize occupancy and enable your employees to be productive.


Offering employees greater flexibility and choice about where and when they work, has largely resulted in the focus work and general process activities of their role to be done remotely, either at home or a third place - to a high standard.


Our own global studies reveal that employees are most likely to come to the office for activities where they need to meet work colleagues, or clients, for formal or informal interaction.


Moving to this hybrid way of working has an impact on the amount of office space you need and how it is configured/designed.


Why? 

Because existing offices, designed prior to the implementation of hybrid working were usually designed with most of the space allocated to desks, cubicles, and workstations - suited to focus and general process work activities (that which we now know employees prefer to do - and do well - remotely). This would possibly use as much as 80% of the available traditional office space, with the remaining space designed as meeting rooms - the formal collaboration space.

Thinking it through this way, it’s clear to see the mismatch between the pre-pandemic traditional office (focus design), and the design of today's high performing office, which needs to be designed with much greater emphasis on enabling collaboration.

Workplace Configuration - The Foundation of a High Performing Office

That is not to say that all of the office space should be collaborative, far from it, as some employees may prefer or indeed need to work from the office space.  It is also the case that in-between the collaborative activities the employee will need somewhere to do focus or general work.

 

How? 

For instance, when employees come into the office and attend say, 2-3 meetings in a day, they will want a place where they can be based when not in the meetings, whether the meetings are informal or not. And most likely in a neighborhood with their co-workers.


The range, type, size and quantum of work settings (furniture settings and rooms) need to align to the full range of collaborative activities taking place; formal meetings, informal 1:1 discussion, project team discussions, settings that encourage interaction, informal group discussions, team meetings, confidential meetings that require good acoustical and visual performance.


There needs to be quiet spaces for private, focussed work as well as one-to-many, and many-to-many videocall spaces where interactive technology is plentiful.


All of these in spaces need to be provided in various sizes to suit the operation of each team, the right quantity to meet their needs, and in the right location to encourage team working and cross team collaboration.


They need to be in close proximity to team neighborhoods to work - no one wants to walk to a central lounge area just to have an ad-hoc conversation; the spaces need to work for spontaneous interactions too.*

Simply placing ad-hoc selections of alternative, informal furniture in your office is a bit like asking your auto mechanic to fix your car using the plumber’s tools – some might be ok, but it’s unlikely the mechanic will get the job done efficiently or effectively! 

Don't be distracted by imagery of offices that look great; especially if they are accompanied with "here's one we designed earlier" kind of statements. Aligned functionality / configuration of the office space provides the foundation for creating a successful working environment, aesthetics come much, much later.


And remember, you cant successfully design your office spaces using someone else's data! What worked for the company in the photo (if it did at all) and looks good doesn't mean it works well, and is unlikely to be the solution for you.


How much rentable SF do you really need?

Having completed the analysis of which location enables your employees to do their best work for each major component of their role, understanding management objectives and vision, then mapping duration, activity, adjacency and personas, we start to configure the workplace design, this provides the evidence based assessment needed to determine the rentable SF.


This evidence based approach reduces risk when it comes to making your next real estate decision. It may also be that part of the future solution includes flex or co-working spaces, distributed to reflect resource geographies; third spaces that allow employees to meet in a local setting and avoid a long commute.


In a recent, fully completed project for the HQ of a global business, we delivered a 40% saving in SF, saving many $m. This reduction in demand can be considered as a saving for sub-letting, or additional room for the business to expand into, or simply move to a smaller space.**


This may all sound very complex, and to be fair it is, but there is no successful ‘one size fits all' or 'cookie cutter' short cut solution here.

Help is at hand


We have over 20 years’ experience leading and guiding businesses on the journey to implementing new ways of working. From mapping employee persona’s (so you can accurately forecast who will be in the office and when, and who could be remote based) right through assessing the real estate impacts, creating the people centric workplace redesign, and the all-important communication and change management process.


Don’t leave this to chance, acting now shows a commitment to meeting not only your business needs, but also the needs of your employees. Co-created hybrid working solutions and a people centric, flexible workplace design will go a long way to retaining employee engagement in your purpose, with positive impacts on financial outcomes, and help you retain and attract the best talent.


  • Reach out to us for an impartial review of your current strategy, to get the journey started or accelerate what you have in place.


Free Tools


* Want to check to see how supportive your office is of hybrid working?

Try this free assessment: Does Your Office Work?


** Try out this free calculator to see how much space you could save.

Click on this link: Office Right-Sizing Calculator

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