Workplace strategist at KKS Savills, Divya Rao looks at how to best implement successful hybrid working models as offices start to reopen
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, office-based employees across the world have become overly familiar with working from home. This has provided a catalyst for a change in mindset, particularly in regards to where, how and when work is carried out.
However, throughout lockdown sentiment has fluctuated and while there are certainly perks, it has highlighted just how important the office actually is. With this in mind, it makes sense that both employees and employers would want a hybrid model that can effectively accommodate both. So, how would this work in practice?
Hybrid working is a combination of both agile and flexible working models (see below). Though agile and flexible may seem interchangeable, they are in fact two very different things.
Flexible working primarily focuses on an arrangement between an employer and employee, while agile working is a methodology that looks at getting the work done with greater flexibility and minimal constraints. Agile working also looks at the adoption of new ways of working for increased productivity and greater mental and physical wellbeing.
Historically presentism was a key indicator of productivity, but it has since been proven that location has no real impact. So, as the office begins to reopen many expect there to be the same degree of choice and flexibility that they have grown accustomed to.
Therefore, to manage the process of migrating to hybrid working, employers need to start by asking the right questions and engaging with their workforce, factoring in changed behaviours and employee expectations.
Key questions include finding out what employees want from their new workplace, whether or not your organisation currently supports this, who needs to be involved in this process and who are the key stakeholders.
It could be that you no longer have to offer a desk per employee, giving you the opportunity to downsize or right size your real estate portfolio. This will inevitably impact workplace design and protocols, so having a robust workplace design methodology is essential:
Determine your true spatial needs and requirements with data and analytics such as benchmarking and employee surveys
Draft your ideal floor plan layout for maximum productivity and increased efficiencies
Deliver a workspace that supports new ways of working and one that is supported by the right technology
Up until this point, almost everyone has been working under temporary arrangements, however as restrictions ease more permanent and sustainable solutions will need to be found.
Read more: Why do we need to go back to the office?
This will include factoring in everything from facilities, IT, HR to health & safety and incorporating process such as a centralised system for dealing with requests for flexible working, mentoring structures, training & team management, as well as wellness and wellbeing resources.
Ultimately, the key to a successful implementation of a hybrid working model begins with understanding its suitability to your business model and culture. Rethinking policy, right sizing space, communicating effectively and investing in smart technology will help to ensure long-term business continuity.
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