As a result of the mass shift to remote working necessitated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the office as we knew it is a thing of the past. Going forward, organizations 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.
Virtual Roundtable - 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.
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 centers of staff collaboration and socialization that can facilitate greater interactions with 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 for many organizations. One of the hybrid working strategies 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, while still accommodating the benefits of remote working, such as reduced commute time and flexibility.
The importance of technology for success with 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 right technologies to give them the access and visibility they need into the availability of space across distributed sites and other colleagues’ schedules now that everyone will be more in flux. Traditional space booking solutions will struggle to accommodate this level of complexity.
And it’s important to note that meeting management technology just scratches the surface of 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 wellbeing to consider.
Organizations 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. Organizations 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 better employee experience through smarter meeting management capabilities.
Five actions to launch 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 programs
- Bring forward business successes from lockdown
- Prioritize 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 both employees’ and the businesses’ changing needs. 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.