Leadership

Are Hybrid Offices the Future of Work Design?

In part one of this article, we probed the fast rise of the “hybrid office” trend, as more companies—with an eye toward greater innovation and productivity—shift their focus away from “open” floor plans in favor of a mix of work areas that better meet employee needs.

Today we’ll outline several tips for leaders to consider as the movement gains speed. The bottom line: It’s a tall order. Your office design and workspace culture now must strive to do it all—for all.

Let’s Talk, But Quietly

Start a dialogue between executives and employees about what’s working well within your office design and what needs to change. The key message is that the entire organization, not just senior leadership, craves equal ability to choose how and where to work. From 2013 to 2016, this choice at all employee levels at companies fell, according to San Francisco-based architecture, design, and planning firm Gensler’s 2016 U.S. Workplace Survey, but senior leadership continues to report greater choice than professional or administrative staff.

Give employees the hush time and focus space that they need to be fully productive. The ability to create a quiet environment or escape a noisy one is more important to employees than free food or other novel office amenities, studies show, and should be prioritized when designing office layout and planning for technology. The upshot: Teams are great, but individual performance on the job is a top priority.

Collaborate without sacrificing focus. Diversify beyond the desk by including a variety of group work spaces inside and outside the workplace. Layering in alternative spaces that support collaboration helps make the connections that drive success in today’s knowledge economy. In other words, focus is a key effectiveness-driver for all employees.

Think about a “collegiate” design approach. When Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates surveyed more than 2,000 working adults recently, Millennials especially said they viewed working as a lot like college: You get assignments and deadlines, but where, when, and how you complete them is up to you. Your company’s workforce demographics also will guide future office space trends to come, of course, but a “collegiate” workplace that favors such distributed work or a “work anywhere, work anytime” policy is gaining traction because it can accommodate a variety of work styles and tasks, including heads-down, concentration, collaboration, off-site, and mobile work.

What’s more, according to Coldwell Banker Commercial’s report, Collegiate Design: The New Driver for Workplace Design, 75% of Fortune 100 companies interviewed by office furniture maker KI and architecture and engineering firm HOK said they now recognize that collegiate design will have an influence on their workplace design.