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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for the biggest shift in working patterns that we have ever seen before. One concept that has become commonplace is hybrid working - according to a recent CIPD survey, 46% of employees have worked from home all or most of the time since the start of the pandemic. In this blog, we discuss the increasing popularity of hybrid working along with its increasing challenges, and how your organisation may or may not benefit from it in your future workplace strategy.

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What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working refers to a blend of working across multiple locations with the office remaining a central hub, and your home / a coworking space or 'third-spaces’ such as coffee shops, provide remote working environments. Hybrid working allows employees more autonomy to plan their working week. Ultimately, hybrid working is about finding the best balance for your business in terms of where work gets done. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional workspace has been questioned and transformed into a “hybrid” space, and today many employees expect to have some level of flexibility in their current or future roles. People and businesses alike have realised that different roles can be more efficient when people get to choose where they complete certain tasks. How you adapt hybrid working to you will significantly impact your real estate strategy as it could mean you need to reduce your requirement for office space. Aligning your people’s and business needs ensures that you have buy-in for your hybrid working plan later down the line. Considering this, we have outlined some challenges that you should factor in when contemplating whether hybrid working is the right strategy for you.

Company Culture:
It is imperative to consult your people on how they and their teams will benefit from hybrid working. By conducting an online survey of your employees, DeVono can help you further understand what they require from your future workplace strategy. Identify where any inclusion risks may arise if employees move to hybrid working and how these can be mitigated.
Luke Philpott, Equity Partner at DeVono, has written about how to make your office enticing to workers and prospective employees, read his views on this topic here.

Digital experience:
Harness the power of technology for your workforce. You must ensure to bridge the gap between office, home, and third space to create an equitable digital experience. DeVono can assist you in this process by identifying what works well, what needs improving, and what you likely need to bring in to make your strategy successful. We have discussed how technology can impact employee wellbeing in a recent blog. DeVono can also advise on investing in various proptech solutions, such as environmental sensors, employee apps, or hands-free technology, to enhance workplace safety and security.

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Design solutions:
To get a clearer understanding of your space needs it is imperative that businesses set a certain level of expectation and/or policy in terms of frequency of attendance in the office. This will provide a benchmark on which to base assumptions. It is at this stage that you factor in those who are on flexible working contracts and their patterns. Understanding more than just work patterns will add a further level to your calculations, what type of work is done when people come into the office, and what are people in the office for? This will inform not just desk space requirements, but also wider workplace design. If your office is composed mostly of open plan desking geared towards solo working, you may wish to consider reducing the number of desks and utilising more of the space as meeting areas for employees to collaborate during the days they are in the office.

Conversely, for those people who wish to ‘escape’ the distractions of home and use the office as a place to focus, you should have some quiet spaces for individual work to take place. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to hybrid working, but a well-considered office space will play a large part in ensuring your hybrid strategy is successful. Our design and build business, Dthree Studio, are experts in office fit-out and understanding the different design solutions businesses and their people need. You can find out more about Dthree Studio here.

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Is hybrid working right for you?
Hybrid working is set to become ever more prevalent across numerous sectors. However, we strongly advise that organisations carefully consider their unique requirements, and the challenges mentioned above. Having a space that provides exactly what you need, is not just efficient but rewarding. Your workplace strategy must be one that allows you the freedom to choose, be inspired and make the office work for you. 41% of organisations say that more home/hybrid working has increased their organisation’s productivity and 69% claimed that it has improved work-life balance for employees. However, some of the challenges faced as a result of the shift to hybrid working include increased stress due to working remotely (44%) and employee conflict due to the challenges of communication and team relationships (34%) (CIPD April 2022). It’s worth considering how to restructure the office space to suit the new way of working whilst nurturing employee productivity and wellness.

One size does not fit all, and as the return to the office gathers pace, technology suppliers must strike the right balance of hybrid working provision and ensure that the workplace is fit-for-purpose to support business goals, productivity, staff welfare and maintaining those core cultural aspirations. DeVono are here to aid your business with the transition of your workplace, creating a human-centric space for the future, allowing you to become more efficient and enhance your company culture - and by proxy your productivity.

If you want to speak to one of our experts about your workplace strategy, get in touch here.

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