Business Transformation

How to design your future office for hybrid teams

Scott Stein

One of the biggest questions that many organisations are facing currently is how to reorganise the way their people work to ensure that they get the best productivity and performance in a flexible hybrid environment.  This is creating the biggest headache for many executives as they struggle to find an approach that works for everyone.

According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index reports that 66% of decision makers are considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid workplaces.  The good news is that many employees want the flexibility to work remotely and the flexibility to work in the office as well.  JLL’s Global Research Report showed that 74% of employees still want to come into the office, however, the issue is how to change the office design to allow the best of both worlds.

Office space design is currently experiencing a renaissance, with a new range of innovations blending the needs of the organisation with both space and technology. WMK Architecture is an award-winning, emerging tier one firm that is seen as one of the leaders in interior design across Australia.  When the pandemic hit, many of their clients reached out to them to gain from their insights.  There are currently three dynamics occurring:

Reduction of Space.  A few organisations have announced that they are reducing their office space.  According to the RBA up to 25% of the larger sized corporates were looking into reducing space due to projections of their hybrid workforce needs.

Reallocation of Space.  This appears to be the most common use of current office space, which is not surprising given the high costs to break a common 5 or 10year lease.  WMK Architecture found that this is what the majority of their clients are doing, they are redesigning the current space to make it more functional for hybrid activities.

Increase in Space.  A number of organisations are also planning to increase their office space.  This appears to be the exception rather than the norm as they are planning for future growth.  Interesting that this increase is often occurring in the warehouse type facilities which have experienced a 45% increase over the past 10year average according to the RBA. 

 

Traditional Approach.  Unfortunately, many organisations don’t have a plan for moving forward and are hoping their people will go back to normal.  They have not planned any redesign of their office space and they will follow government protocols for safety and hygiene but have not explored how to truly make hybrid work.

Cosmetic Approach.  A few organisations have recognised the need to change their office layout, however, they have only done a few things that would equate to a face lift.  This is primarily rearranging the office by moving desks and having some people work remotely on assigned days to reduce the number of staff in one location.

Brand & Culture Approach.  Leading organisations are focusing on rebranding their environment with colours, textures and layout to enhance their brand and inspire more innovation at work.  They are proactively planning how to reallocate the space to maximise performance and flexibility.  This often is resulting in not reducing office space, but reallocating up to 25-50% of it to more collaborative workspaces. 

So what layouts are moving into the hybrid office?  One of the biggest shifts in redesigning office spaces is the ability to include more shared space.  This is not a new concept, with many leading corporate real estate developers introducing this in recent years.  These shared spaces often include a café and areas for people to connect casually as well as formal meeting rooms that can be reserved. 


Written by Scott Stein.
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Scott Stein
Scott Stein works with leaders and staff to implement fast-track strategies that improve results. He is author of the updated book Leadership Hacks: Clever shortcuts to boost your impact and results which includes Hybrid Hacks.


Scott Stein is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.