“…We seem to have collectively forgotten our need for each other…companies…rushed to roll out remote work policies as if employees are machines that don’t need human interaction of the office…set aside centuries of collective learnings about collaboration…” August 2021, multiple hybrid successes in the book, but it might still fail.
The boss wants staff back in the office: employees want to be in office less yet crave face-to-face connectivity when there. Improvised breaks aren’t happening around the water cooler the way they used to, stifling unscripted creativity, yet successful meetings happen with a combination of virtual and in-person. Management debates hybrid working against a full-time fixed desk, or the flexibility of in-office co-working space. Rather than make spontaneous footprint decisions based on projections and desired outcomes, one thing is clear: adaptable working space must offer a productive working environment with improved technical equipment.
The hybrid model has forced a rethink to the way we work when we work and mostly where we work. Yesterdays’ workplace has been changed as the ongoing experiment in office re-organization goes on.
Additionally, what was once the definition of the workplace now looks different. Your office already reflected the culture, the ethics, the workstyle of its brand. With space sitting vacant, no longer fulfilling its need to be wholly occupied, companies have opened the doors, inviting outsiders in to experience their activities under the umbrella of a company brand. Maintaining space therefore justifies lease retention and adhering to long-term plans.
Employers can better plan around occupancy levels to cut down on the cost of rent, office supplies, and business expenses as safe distancing will remain in place for some time. While a hybrid workplace exemplifies a healthy working environment with reduced numbers in the office, creating ample personal space and safe distancing remains a priority. A hybrid workplace must be able to operate in a location-agnostic way, requiring an increased resiliency in technical functionality. Cloud-based productivity must allow the remote worker to remain fully functional, to get work done from anywhere with adequate hardware and resources intact. Redesigning the office layout is an investment in reshaping existing space to meet the changing needs around continued flexibility.
The question remains…what is a business to do with vacant space due to shift schedules and smaller teams coming in to work? The reality is the office follows us everywhere, thanks to advanced technology and the cloud. While we may be able to work from anywhere, we ideally want to go into an office to build face-to-face relationships, connecting in the workplace. Therefore, now is the time to re-think your existing space for additional use.
Your office already reflects your culture, business ethics, and work style. Now you can share your brand, inviting outsiders into your space that justifies lease retention. Offer use of space for a plethora of activities your teams can stand behind. Fuse your workplace with experiences that encourage facility use. Enhance your corporate image to the community, revitalizing unused space to offer revenue generating activities. Consider any of the following initiatives:
- Use vacant cafeterias as training kitchens for cooking classes, healthy eating courses or catering
- Turn empty offices into music classrooms or hobby rooms
- Redesign larger space into an on-site childcare facility, or set stations for gaming tournaments or social events
- Invite guest speakers into auditorium space for educational courses
- Install revolutionary technology that blur the lines between in person and virtual gatherings