Hybrid, Sustainable Working

Business Insights

It is abundantly clear that societal habits and working patterns have shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting caution and personal safety at the forefront of our minds. However, while safety is practised it must align with a longer-term factor – economic sustainability. This short blog will outline how hybrid working and workplace fit-out and refurbishment can be used to actively encourage a positive working environment and increase employee wellbeing.

What is hybrid working, and what is a hybrid workplace?

Perhaps the most significant shift in working practises – ever, Hybrid working is the term used (since the pandemic) to describe a model that allows individuals to work in an environment best suited to their task or activity. It is the embracing of the digital tools which we have all been accustomed to using, but had never really trusted, and it took the jolt of global lockdowns in early 2020 to finally separate the link between people, process and place. This process is known to empower staff with the freedom to select where they will achieve the best output, so that ‘work’ is no longer a place; rather an activity. For the majority, working away from the office has been a positive experience, and the benefits of this flexible form of working has created new employee expectations and desires. As a result, those organisations which do not adopt these practices may fight themselves at a disadvantage in the war for talent, and could risk increased employee turnover. Hybrid working must be seen as an opportunity for businesses to increase employee wellbeing, build more resilient teams, and reduce facility costs.

Hybrid workplaces are about giving employees the experiences and interaction which they cannot get remotely, and facilitating stronger relationships across teams from multiple locations. This new model epitomises flexibility, and has a strong bias towards collaborative and shared experiences rather than solo work. It’s a carefully balanced blend of structure, independence and sociability. For more information read our blog ‘The Hybrid Workplace’.

What is the transition from our present office to a hybrid working environment?

The workplace has now become a central hub with which teams can gather, meet and utilise facilities; it is the trading floor for the new commodity - knowledge. And this shift calls for a strategically designed workspace different from the old paradigm.

The old office layout (which hasn’t changed much since Victorian times) centred around all work being carried out at desks – with many companies still assigning each person their own desk. With the adoption of any form of flexible/hybrid/off-site working pattern the office quickly becomes very poorly utilised, and a very dispiriting place to come to. Space utilisation in the hybrid office entails the exchange of the traditional desk format with (safe) shared and collaborative spaces. Some desks might remain to provide a place for those with little space for a productive home workstation, or those whose disposition makes it difficult to work away from people. Space is then planned in for formal and informal working, in a variety of group sizes with consideration for non-present participants. Individual work spaces should also be incorporated; privacy zones such as phone booths and focus areas are a definite requirement. Without a doubt, hygiene needs to be considered throughout – no touch access and signing in, high quality air handling systems, anti-bac kitchen and washroom design etc. Read more about how hybrid workpaces define office design. There are also technological factors such as screens, meeting rooms for video calls that need to be incorporated into designs.

Why do you need a hybrid workplace Covid or no-Covid?

With new strains of COVID interrupting the return to the workplace it is becoming more apparent that we will need to adopt this hybrid way of working to ensure business output does not get interrupted. Many businesses across the globe are utilising a real hybrid environment than ever before. Hybrid working shouldn’t be seen as a negative; it is an opportunity to re-align your culture, practises, structure and reporting, meeting styles to name but a few. We have listed below a number of the benefits:

Company benefits of a hybrid workspace include:

  • Smaller workspaces delivering a reduction in real estate and running costs

  • Improved attendance/reduced absenteeism

  • Reduced attrition

  • Improvements in productivity

  • Prepared for any change

  • Greater employee inclusion

  • Widespread technology adoption

  • More sustainable business model – reduction in carbon footprint

Employee benefits of a hybrid workspace include:

  • Improved wellbeing

  • Sense of achievement / improved productivity

  • Better work-life balance

  • Better communication

  • Greater flexibility

  • Empowered to work how and where they want

  • An understanding that their employer listens

  • A more sustainable lifestyle, reduced time using transport

What’s key about the hybrid working approach is that it focuses on the user. This keeps it sustainable, innovative, and supportive. In a post-pandemic world, that is essential. We have seen the rise of a new mindset in the workplace. One that is climate conscious and engaged with understanding the impacts that all forms of human activity are having on our planet and if businesses are looking to attract and retain workers this is just one of the factors that need to be considered. Read our Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Working and speak to a member of our team about how we can help you with your Hybrid Working transition.