With upwards of 55% of employees working in a hybrid capacity, does your workplace need a refresh? The days of drab cubicles, meeting rooms with the bare essentials, and utilitarian breakrooms are over – at least for the majority of workers who are opting out of the old office environment. Intentional hybrid workplace design is increasingly essential to an organization’s success.
Offices pre-2019 were designed for a different world. Employees typically worked in office five days a week, and location flexibility was a perk available to the lucky few. Now, things are very different. Hybrid work has moved from a necessity to a workplace expectation. In line with this, research suggests that 51% of employees would quit if the opportunity for hybrid work were taken away.
That’s not to say we don’t need offices – far from it. Microsoft research shows that remote workers report increased feelings of stress, overwhelm, and loneliness. For all the lifestyle benefits of working remotely, employees will always be drawn to in-person experiences and meaningful chances for human connection.
It’s up to business leaders to design a hybrid workplace experience that strikes a balance between empowering remote work and fostering human connection. While many organizations have embraced digital tools like Slack, Zoom, and Teams to support remote collaboration, few have turned their attention to workplace design.
If you’re thinking, “Can’t I just reopen the office for employees to come in when they feel like it?” The answer is a firm no. World Economic Forum research shows that over 80% of people were dissatisfied with office design before the pandemic. Factors such as poor lighting, overwhelming noise, and a lack of personal space were all cited as productivity hindrances.
At the same time, the power of in-person collaboration can’t be underestimated. As Steve Jobs once said, “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
Business leaders have a fantastic opportunity to recalibrate the physical workspace to nurture workplace culture, foster creativity, and supercharge collaboration by creating a game-changing space that employees look forward to using.
The right hybrid office layout is not one-size-fits-all. Every company is unique, so workplace design will be just as nuanced. However, we are discovering a few emerging trends, indicating how a hybrid office space should differ from a traditional in office one in terms of space planning and usage.
Excellent hybrid office spaces are designed as social watering holes. They’re a place for employees to brainstorm, bounce ideas off one another, and build a sense of unity. This kind of environment has a two-fold positive impact on the bottom line.
But the new office isn’t just about the collective. It’s also about the individual. Accenture found that 75% of people say they want a mix of office and remote working to become the new norm, with a 50/50 split seen as the ideal balance.
The hybrid office can also be a calm oasis for people who live in shared accommodations or have bustling home lives. A space to retreat to for focused work or to create a divide between work and home life.
Designing a hybrid workplace can feel almost paradoxical. How do you create a workplace that nurtures both independence and collaboration? The answer is agility and flexibility. Offices are changing dramatically. Getting hybrid right requires innovation, a growth mindset, and a willingness to experiment.
With that in mind, here are three principles to guide your approach.
Any form of design is a chance to unleash creativity and imagination. Think about what you’d like your employees to achieve while in the office. Now, imagine how you can create a space that encourages these goals.
You may need a mixture of meeting rooms and personal spaces. Don’t just think about functionality – consider the atmosphere you’d like to create, the style of furniture necessary to make the office inviting, and the overall environment you want your employees to walk into.
Human connection is the lynchpin of the in-person office experience. Hybrid leaders are creating spaces that nurture seamless, frictionless collaboration.
Some of your team members may wish to attend meetings virtually, while others prefer to come into the office. You’ll need to consider designs that include technology to nurture an end-to-end productivity ecosystem that includes in-person and remote workers.
Companies with excellent cultures have three times greater total returns to shareholders. We’re seeing many leading companies being very intentional about what culture and togetherness mean.
Ask yourself, through thoughtful design, how can you best support your employees and convey your company values?
Collaboration, creativity, and culture-building are the cornerstones of designing a hybrid workplace successfully. But principles are nothing without action. While hybrid workplace design is undeniably still evolving, we’ve uncovered a few best practices for success.
To empower your employees to achieve more, you must carefully calibrate the physical office space to appeal to the broadest range of personalities within your office.
Every organization’s needs will differ, so gathering thoughtful feedback from your employees is paramount to creating the right architecture.
If we’ve learned anything over the last three years, it’s how quickly things can change. The world of hybrid work is dynamic and fast-paced. As organizations grow and evolve, so must their workplaces. This calls for flexibility and fluidity.
The design of hybrid workplaces needs to be adaptable, changing in line with employee requirements and usage patterns. Tools like smart sensors and data analytics can help organizations to learn how their spaces are being used and make meaningful changes over time.
A desire for belonging and curiosity may pull employees back into the office for an occasional visit. Still, if they don’t enjoy the experience, they may not return. It’s, therefore, up to organizations to create a hybrid office layout in which people feel comfortable and supported.
Beyond offering functional spaces, this is really about building culture. Social amenities like cafes, common areas, and mothers’ rooms show your people that you genuinely value their presence in the office. At the same time, these areas nurture different types of social connection, all of which contribute to a sense of loyalty and culture.
The ideal hybrid office has something to suit everyone: bookable desks for individuals to carry out focused work, collaborative spaces for knowledge sharing and meetings, and social areas for spontaneous conversational opportunities.
While this might sound like a lot for a space to achieve, it’s entirely doable with thoughtful planning. Accenture research highlights that, increasingly, organizations are forgoing the traditional office premises in favor of specialist on-demand workspaces explicitly designed for the future of work.
As more organizations embrace hiring talent from diverse locations and widen their use of freelancers, it’s crucial to remember that not every individual will go to the physical office. However, no employee should feel isolated or out of the loop due to location or personal commitments.
To empower the collective workforce to perform at their best, organizations should harness the power of technology. The aim is to create an inclusive hybrid environment, ensuring that every individual can be seen and heard, whether in the office or not.
Ultimately, successful hybrid office design is a journey, not a destination. Organizations that approach hybrid work with consideration, agility, and a growth mindset stand to set themselves apart from competitors, retain and recruit talent and build fantastic workplace cultures.
The secret to success is undoubtedly to remain flexible and innovative. After all, hybrid work is centered around flexibility and the ability to respond quickly to changing needs. The design of your workplace should embody this mindset.
If you want to see what’s possible when it comes to intentionally designed workspaces, book a tour of an Expansive workspace in any of our thirty locations across the US.