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The global Covid-19 pandemic forced offices and workplaces around the world to close their doors. Millions of people had to work from home using video conferencing software. But as the restrictions began to ease, the corporate world moved to a new type of model — hybrid working.
Of course, home workers needed to adapt their homes to the relatively new concept of a hybrid working model. This involved the purchase of office furniture, the upgrading of broadband services and wholesale changes to the work-life balance.
Businesses also had to make changes, as well as decisions about whether to choose an open office floor plan or a cubicle office layout. The right setup can allow business managers to improve productivity in the office while saving on real estate costs. And quirky furniture such as meeting booths and tub chairs are good at creating distinct “zones” within an office.
If you’re making the switch to hybrid working, this guide to implementing it will make the transition a lot easier.
Hybrid working is a combination of working in a traditional office or workspace and working from home. More and more companies across the world are implementing a hybrid working policy in order to provide employees with more flexibility, save money on office rents, cut carbon emissions and allow workers to enjoy more time with family instead of commuting to work every day.
While the global pandemic hastened the move towards the hybrid working model, this flexible approach has in fact been around since the dawn of the internet. Once people could send emails, collaborate online and take part in virtual meetings, businesses saw an opportunity to save money on office space and transport while giving their employees more time with their families.
While some people love working from home, others enjoy the social aspect of working side-by-side with colleagues in a physical office. Hybrid working gives employees the best of both worlds. When an employee has the opportunity to split their working time between their workplace and their home, there are significant benefits for both the worker and the employer:
Having fewer workers in a workplace such as an office means less space is required. The move to a hybrid working policy has allowed hundreds of companies around the world to cut their rents and business real estate taxes.
Particularly in the largest cities, commuters can spend up to four hours a day commuting to work and back. Giving workers that time back gives them more time with their loved ones. There’s also more time for socialising with friends and leisure activities — making people happier and more motivated.
The hybrid working from home model is great for employee morale, motivation and general happiness. And when employees are content and satisfied with their private lives, they become significantly more productive at work.
The wider a business can cast its net for talented employees, the greater the chance of finding them. If the distance between a candidate’s home and the workplace isn’t an issue, companies can expand their recruitment drives to include much larger geographical areas than ever.
Social distancing and staying at home became almost second nature during the pandemic. We all had to play our part in stopping the spread of Covid-19 as much as possible. A hybrid working model significantly reduces the number of employees that are in a workplace at any one time — thus reducing the spread of potentially harmful viruses. Returning to the office after Covid-19 makes a lot of people nervous, but hybrid working can alleviate most concerns.
If you’ve decided to implement a hybrid working policy, there are a few issues to consider and steps to take:
You can’t really be sure that hybrid working in your business will succeed until you’ve tried it. But however well you implement it, there will be some disruption to your normal operations. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with just a few employees or a single department. If hybrid working delivers positive results, you can slowly expand its use across your organisation.
Hybrid working isn’t suited to every business. Depending on the nature of your everyday business, it might actually do more harm than good. That’s why you need to get regular feedback from the managers and employees who are experienced hybrid working. Are employees getting more work done? Are the changes leading to decreased costs and increased revenues? Constantly review the efficacy of your hybrid working policy and be prepared to make changes quickly.
Everyone in your organisation needs to be fully invested in a hybrid working model if it’s to succeed in the long run. That’s why it’s important to make it part of your business’s culture. It won’t be possible for everyone to stay at home every day, so there will need to be compromises, mutually beneficial arrangements and a set of rules to ensure hybrid working is fair and in line with the needs of the business.
If hybrid working is going to deliver cost-savings for your business, you’ll need to optimise your existing office space. You won’t need to accommodate all your employees at the same time, so remove office desks, chairs, sofas, tables and communal areas that aren’t needed. How much space do you really need? Once you know that, you can look for smaller premises that will save your business money.
To make hybrid working viable, your employees will need to embrace it fully. While many people will be more than happy to stay at home, some will see this as a stumbling block. A lot of workers simply don’t like to mix their work-life with their private life.
If you’re saving money through a hybrid working model, pass some of those savings on to your employees in the form of bonuses or home working premiums. It’s also worth bearing in mind that your home workers will be using their own utilities, so an additional payment to cover expenses is a good idea.
Everyone should get their chance to work from home if possible. However, there may be some jobs that are impossible to be done remotely. The harmony of your workforce should be a priority, so explore ways to develop trust between your employees. Introduce a shift-swap mechanism, and encourage employees to be open and honest about any grievances they may have.
Hybrid working will free up a lot of space in your office. By utilising this space efficiently and paying attention to the principles of office interior design, you may be able to give productivity levels a boost. And you’ll also be able to accurately assess how much space you’ll need in the future — once your hybrid working policy is fully implemented.
Hybrid working will result in half a team or department working in the office and the other half working in their home. To facilitate collaborative hybrid working, you’ll need to set your office up in a way that facilitates practical communication, space to chat as a group and quiet space for focused working.
A well-appointed meeting room gives a team the formal seating arrangement and privacy needed to discuss the issues of the day and share ideas. And the centre of that room are usually meeting room tables. For a relaxed atmosphere, a Hub High Meeting Table is ideal. Or if you want to keep things formal and promote efficient meetings and business-like, an Air Co-working table combines functionality with an office aesthetic.
Breakout areas must provide people with a range of seating options, lots of space and a place for a video screen for remote conferencing. A selection of sofas creates a comfortable, open space that’s conducive to collaboration and unhindered communication.
An Alban Three Person Sofa, for example, offers just the right amount of comfort while having a formal aesthetic that encourages productivity. A selection of smaller options scattered around the space provides opportunities for sub-breakout areas. One of our tub chairs would be a great option to encourage this.
The traditional culture of giving every employee their own desk isn’t often compatible with the hybrid working modes. Ideally, you need a selection of standard office desks, equipped with a terminal, a phone and some storage space. Encourage your employees to move around, but make sure they remove all their possessions at the end of the working day. Something like the One Cantilever Grey Oak Rectangular Office Desk is perfect, as it’s compact, lightweight and easy to move around.
Your employees deserve a place to unwind and chat with colleagues — whether that’s in person or online. This space needs to feature carpet, soft furnishings and maybe some catering equipment or reading materials. Add a few office lockers to give office employees a little extra privacy and security.
The focal point of any recreational space should be a comfortable reception sofa. Plush, stylish and lots of fun, the Beacon Two Seater Sofa is the perfect place for de-stressing during a busy day at the office. It’s also a good idea to provide soft seating for individuals who need a little space. The Vibrant Tub Armchair with Metal Feet is perfect in that regard.
Remote working involves an employee spending all of their time working away from the office — at home or on the move. Hybrid working is when an employee splits their time between the organisation’s office and somewhere else (usually their home).
This really depends on the needs of the business and the preferences of employees. Some people feel detached from their business if they never mix with their colleagues in person. But some will embrace the chance to say goodbye to long commutes forever.
Remote working can be good for businesses if their priority is to cut real estate, utility and transportation costs. However, not being able to monitor the performance and productivity of a remote worker isn’t always ideal.
Research has shown that the majority of the UK’s workforce would welcome the flexibility and freedom hybrid working delivers. Employees tend to see it as the best of both worlds; they get more time with their loved ones, but they’re still able to enjoy the camaraderie and social element that comes with working in an office. Some prefer to take work that requires focus back home in order to avoid distractions in the office.
Ever since people were able to communicate via email, the move towards hybrid working has been unstoppable. The global pandemic hastened the switch to hybrid working — and gave both employees and businesses a first-hand look at all the benefits it offers. As companies continue to look for savings and increased efficiency in the office, and as employees strive for a healthier work-life balance, hybrid working is only going to become more widespread. These great benefits, coupled with the need to reduce carbon emissions, mean hybrid working truly is the future.