Before working from home became the norm, the office was a place where employees got work done. While the pandemic has shown us that technology and digital communication make performing routine meetings and tasks during remote work possible, a hybrid office design should combine the best of both office and remote work. As employees return to the office, physical work environments are becoming places for workers to connect, learn, share ideas and collaborate, resulting in a greater demand for hybrid office designs. It is now up to office managers and office interior designers to transform traditional office spaces into hybrid workplaces that keep employees interested, motivated and productive. Although the easiest solution is to bring in an office interior designer to rework your existing office to create more flexible and collaborative spaces, read on for tips on what you can do to enhance employee productivity, and why.
The impact of collaborative office design on employees
In-person encounters at work allow us to express ourselves and interact with the world around us. Studies have shown that interacting with team members impacts how we learn and process signals. The ideal office should facilitate networking, learning and spontaneous collaboration.
Interacting in the same physical space, such as the office pantry, helps people build and strengthen relationships through reading each other’s moods, personalities and body language. In face-to-face encounters, people are more likely to empathise with each other, which encourages a sense of belonging and collaboration.
In contrast, remote encounters are almost always task-focused. When people are communicating and working from home, nonverbal signals are harder to detect.
While technology can help with knowledge-sharing during remote work, having an office space makes the process easier and offers more learning opportunities: employees can learn from observing team members, colleagues and managers and interacting with stakeholders, on top of briefings and training.
How a hybrid office design boosts productivity
Still, in a poorly designed office, learning and impromptu collaboration may not happen at all. Poor design features include workstation cubicles with high partitions, and the lack of collaborative spaces or common areas, such as pantries. They may, for instance, make it difficult for members of the sales team to work with coworkers from the marketing team. These missed collaboration opportunities could eventually lead to poor business performance. Aside from encouraging collaboration, a hybrid office design allows employees to work productively and effectively, while providing them with an incentive to come to work to socialise with colleagues; attend team meetings and learning sessions; and access on-site resources.
It makes way for two kinds of innovation: creating in silence and isolation, away from distractions; and networking with other team members to share ideas and engage in spontaneous collaboration. It is also the most inclusive and flexible, catering to staff who may have difficulty commuting to the office daily, or those who have other responsibilities, such as childcare.
A hybrid office design also give your business a competitive edge by and addressing the priorities of job seekers, especially younger ones: flexibility, competitive pay and wellbeing.
What a hybrid office design looks like
Cubicles, private offices, long conference room tables, conference phones and other features of traditional offices have lost their appeal in the “new normal” of workplace design. A hybrid office design should harness the power of technology with seamless tools, such as booking systems, interactive whiteboard solutions and connected conference rooms, and be made for human interaction and designed for productivity.
Intimate collaborative spaces
Foster collaboration with smaller meeting rooms that fit three to four people, instead of a dozen. With social distancing measures in place, people are less likely to meet in large groups. Keep your options open with soundproofed operable walls that allow you to adjust the size and layout of your meeting rooms.
On top of redesigning large meeting rooms, make space for team huddle areas, zones for whiteboarding sessions, intimate informal areas for one-on-one meetings, hybrid town halls with screens for team meetings and seating for large team sessions.
You could even consider building an open-plan kitchen with coffee machines and other appliances, and a lounging area for employees to catch up, have lunch and mingle. Maximise the use of collaborative spaces by organising regular rituals that facilitate informal learning and interactions, such as weekly wellness sessions.
Space for focused work
In addition to including quiet zones, incorporate booths and library areas for focused work. Offer a hot desk hub that features a mix of solo workstations and desks for teams. Provide moveable partitions for even greater flexibility.
Happy employees are productive employees. Provide sanctuaries where employees can unwind, enjoy quiet time, and even take naps when they feel overwhelmed, as they would in their own homes.
If reconfiguring your traditional office space sounds overwhelming, engage an office interior designer to help you identify the right hybrid office design for your business and employees. At MJPM, we find inspiration from international perspectives and combine them with local insights to create sleek designs with a human touch. Drop us a line and let us know what we can do for you.
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