Hybrid work environments are certain to support both the wellbeing and productivity of employees as they begin to consider transitioning back into the office. The number of businesses trying out hybrid models is significant. Steelcase research shows sixty-eight percent of global organizations plan to experiment with hybrid work, which allows employees to work part-time in the office and part-time at home (or a third place). Below we discuss the key benefits of how hybrid work spaces create human-centered environments.
The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the idea that one size does not fit all. In fact, many businesses have learned to re-prioritize flexibility and adaptability as a result of the volatile year. Flexibility allows workplaces to be designed for equity, equipping companies to accommodate employees’ ever-changing lifestyles. As Forbes highlights, evaluating the entire workforce’s individual and collective needs can help businesses understand what solution fits their unique situation.
One way to offer more flexibility and freedom of choice is by incorporating outdoor workspaces. These increasingly popular spaces offer employees all of the benefits of spending time outside, while also cultivating confidence and feelings of safety when back at the office. As the Facility Executive explains, long-term incorporation of outdoor work settings can help businesses and institutions adapt not only to the challenges they face in immediate response to COVID-19, but also to our evolving expectations for public safety. Due to the varying levels of comfortability each employee may experience returning to the office, outdoor spaces have become important centers to signal signs of an increased focus on health and wellness.
While hybrid models may allow for greater flexibility for where and how we work, these solutions also offer new technological challenges — like keeping employees connected, engaged and in the loop when teams are split across remote and in-office settings. In order to maintain a successful hybrid work environment, employees must have equal and easy access to collaborative technologies and organizational resources — essentially intertwining physical and digital workspaces. As Jessie Storie, a Design Manager at Steelcase states, “It’s not enough to just bring remote people into the space, we need to give those in the office a better virtual presence by designing important elements like cameras, acoustics, content and lighting.” By making it easy for employees to talk, socialize and connect through tech, the important relationships that drive collaboration can continue to grow.
However, virtual settings can be especially challenging for new team members. One of the main obstacles that businesses have faced during the transition to fully digital environments is onboarding new employees. Dezeen found that managers were challenged in making sure everyone they supervised was engaged and connecting to colleagues, and at the same time, women and younger employees, as well as Black employees and people from underrepresented groups, feared being overlooked for promotions because they had fewer opportunities to demonstrate their skills and talents. Many new hires have experienced the downfalls of not being able to informally connect with co-workers and adapt to the in-person company culture, reinforcing the importance of creating hybrid networks to connect teams.
The shift to a hybrid work model represents one of the largest shifts in our work environments this generation. Employees and business owners alike recognize the need for a new type of workflow that encourages productivity, innovation and collaboration through a web of digital and in-person opportunities. While the future of hybrid work will continue to evolve, its impact and influence is felt throughout all industries. In the long run, flexible workspaces have the potential to evolve and adapt with its workforce, ultimately positioning organizations to compete and thrive in the future. Read more about how to develop an effective, engaging and equitable workplace strategy in Steelcase’s latest research.
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