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The Future of Work is Hybrid: What Your Business Should Consider When Moving to a Hybrid Work Strategy

Well over a third (40%) of the global workforce is considering quitting their jobs this year, according to Microsoft’s recent Work Trend Index report. However, the very same report also establishes that a hybrid work environment will be the saving grace, with such a model becoming critical for attracting and retaining staff, especially in regards to diverse talent.

t’s clear that hybrid - the idea where an employee splits their time flexibly between the workplace and working remotely - is the future. Fast tracked by the pandemic and the catalyst to digital transformation, hybrid working will help enable increased job satisfaction and productivity within organizations across the world.

But for those businesses that are more traditional in their approach to staff and office working, navigating a whole new world of hybrid can be a minefield, and it’s not easy to know what the best strategy is for your organization. Planon is here to help. Below are four major considerations we believe every business should take into account when moving to a hybrid business model. 

Consider the workplace as a hub for creation and collaboration 

In this new era of hybrid working, where most staff can work flexibly from home or the office, an increasing number of organizations are beginning to adopt fresh working models. This is enabling business leaders to transform and elevate the office space to one that's more than just somewhere staff sit at desks. They’re eager for the workspace to evolve into strategic assets, such as space that fosters talent and improves collaboration and creativity by allowing better, more engaging experiences for employees.  

These new ambitions for offices to become hubs for collaboration and interactions are driving some companies to make some serious upgrades to their workspaces. Take PayPal, for instance, which has recently revamped its HQ into a collaboration hub with zones for active collaboration, community and social, and learning. The same goes for insurance giant EverQuote, which has recently converted its existing office space into a center for its some 300 employees to engage in team-building activities and strategic meetings, rather than just desk-based work.

Listen to the needs of your employees

The new way of working post-Covid has shifted our understanding of the office for good. Therefore, returning to the office after months of working remotely during lockdown shouldn’t be seen as a binary yes or no. Instead, it should come from a user perspective. For example, managers should ask their employees what they want from their office environment now that things are returning back to normal.

Henriette Weiß, Global Head of Workplace Solutions at Philips Real Estate, was a panellist in a recent Planon roundtable discussion on the topic of hybrid work, titled “Facility Management, Technology, and the Future of Work.” During the discussion, she said we cannot stress enough the importance of prioritising communication during these times.

“Try to think of the big picture going forward,” she says. “And get all your different personnel involved - HR, IT, real estate and facility management teams.”

She also noted that colleagues have given feedback where they say that in a completely remote workspace, they would miss informal meetings and connections in the office. “So, it’s about getting that balance right,” she adds.

Plan for peaks and troughs in workplace attendance

One thing is for sure: there's a lot of complexity behind successful hybrid work strategies, so there's no off-the-shelf template that a company can follow or implement right away.

According to John Raspin, partner at Frost & Sullivan and director of their Energy and Environmental practices, businesses need to ask questions about employee engagement, collaboration, space utilization, and many other areas of work. Another necessity is to anticipate that staff numbers will fluctuate on a daily basis, which could have an impact on all of the above. Raspin was also a panellist for Planon’s roundtable discussion on hybrid working. You can watch it here.

A report by analyst giant McKinsey estimates that 20 to 25 percent of the workforce could work from home three to five days per week without any loss to productivity. With at least one member of staff out of the office every day of the week, businesses of all sizes will need to plan carefully who needs to be in the office for specific in-person commitments and when.

Anticipate the complications for FM and RE professionals

While a hybrid working environment is largely seen as an enabler for organizational agility and flexibility, the moving of a workforce to a combination of part-time on-site and remote work can cause huge complications for FM and RE professionals. To circumvent this, managers should make a number of thoughtful and thorough preparations ahead of the move, including defining and confirming company objectives, analyzing key jobs and tasks, updating policies and procedures, and preparing employees for the pending changes to minimize complications.

Poor implementation can create chaos and disappointment for all stakeholders, so it's important that it goes as smoothly as possible. 

There’s also the issue of convincing C-Suite leaders that investment in workplace technology and design elements brings value, and getting them to prioritize this change above everything else that is happening in the business. However, the key is having the right data. Gathering data from internal surveys can help you to better understand how employees rate their engagement and productivity levels. Backed with data, you have an easier path to convincing your leadership teams that further investment is needed to provide your building users with the workplace technologies, space, and experience they need. This has also been a topic addressed by the IFMA Experts' Assessment series.

Want more expert advice around the future of work? Planon gathered a group of workplace experts to speak on this topic during a roundtable discussion, titled “Facility Management, Technology & the Future of Work.” You can watch it here.

Peter Ankerstjerne

Peter Ankerstjerne

Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)

Peter leads the Marketing and Communications functions as well as Strategy Development and large strategic partnerships at Planon. In addition, he is Chairman of the Planon North America Board. Peter has an extensive record of workplace and facility management experience, including senior management positions with leading companies such as ISS, WeWork and JLL. Also, Peter has been part of IFMA’s Board of Directors since 2016 and served as Chairman of the Board from 2020 until 2022.

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