The mass shift to remote working as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic means the office as we knew it is a thing of the past. Going forward, organisations of all shapes and sizes look set to embrace hybrid working - a form of flexible working that allows employees to split their time between attending the workplace and working remotely.
A recent Work Trend report from Microsoft, titled ‘The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?’ shows that some 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue post-pandemic, while over 65% are craving more in-person time with their teams. To prepare, 66% of businesses are planning to redesign offices to become more strategic assets, with workplaces set to evolve into centres for staff collaboration and socialising that can facilitate greater interactions between remote staff.
In another report titled ‘Five Best Practices for Success in the Hybrid working Era,’ Verdantix outlines the top five hybrid working strategies being used today by many organisations. One of those highlighted in the report is the 60-40 approach, which allows employees to spend 3 days in the office and two at home, or vice versa. This arrangement gives employees social and collaboration time with colleagues in the office, whilst still offering the benefits of remote working, such as reduced commuting time and flexibility.
The importance of technology for successful hybrid working models
These new hybrid working models bring interesting new dynamics to the purpose of office space – but they also bring new challenges. One of the biggest being how to equip employees with the right technologies to give them access to and visibility of space availability across distributed sites and colleagues’ schedules, now that everyone will be more in flux. Traditional space booking solutions will struggle to accommodate this level of complexity.
Facility Management, Technology & the Future of Work
A panel of experts from Frost & Sullivan, KPMG, Schneider Electric, Philips, and Planon discuss the evolving role of facility management and technology in creating a successful return-to-work experience post pandemic. 1:03:12 EnglishWatch webinar
And it’s important to note that meeting management technology just scratches the surface of the workplace challenges that need to be considered by corporate facility and real estate executives going forward; there’s also the risk of peaks and troughs of workplace attendance, future COVID-19 disruption, and employee well-being to consider.
Organisations equipped with an integrated workplace management system will have a better starting point for implementing and introducing new technologies like this to the workplace and their workforce, to meet the needs of hybrid work strategies. Organisations working with an open platform IWMS vendor with a robust partner network will have an even greater advantage – getting access to the latest generation of workplace apps, like Planon’s Workplace Engagement app, which can help facilitate safe and healthy workplaces and enable an enhanced employee experience through smarter meeting management capabilities.
Five actions to take today to enable hybrid working success
As companies accelerate their implementation of hybrid working strategies, there is an endless array of projects that need attention by facilities and workplace managers. However, the top priorities for corporate managers should be making use of employee feedback and ensuring that staff have the best technology tools to get the most out of hybrid working models.
The Verdantix report mentioned above also highlights five actions that companies can take now to get the most out of hybrid working models. Those include:
- Leverage regular employee feedback when iterating programmes
- Bring forward business successes from lockdown
- Prioritise investments in employee-facing workplace solutions
- Look for untapped cost efficiency that hybrid working will open up
- Future-proof strategy by making it flexible
Of course, for any hybrid working strategy to be successful, it needs to be flexible in order to meet the changing needs of both employees and businesses. Real estate managers should not think of hybrid working as the ‘end goal’ of the office, but rather as the next step in a longer evolution of the workplace.