FlexOS recently held a webinar to gather insights on what are some of the biggest pain points that employers are facing in their hybrid workplace and workforce.
From our poll with the attendees, 3 of the biggest concerns of HR practitioners are the design of the hybrid offices, building connection and community in a hybrid workplace, and the well-being of the employees.
The Design of the Hybrid Offices
Companies can benefit significantly from hybrid work since fewer employees in the office means less need for costly office space. Research shows thats savings can be up to 50% (1).
This of course means that the best hybrid offices are designed differently, with less space for individual-focused work and more meeting and collaboration spaces. This is why 33% of organizations in Asia-Pacific already plan to refit or redesign their office space in the next 12 months (2).
We shared three tips to design offices for hybrid work:
- Update your office for hybrid work. Exceptions aside, most offices were designed for heads-down solo work before the pandemic. Not in the age of hybrid. Redesign your office for community, collaboration, learning, wellbeing, and company culture (3).
- Set Clear Rules and Let Employees Book Within Them. If you’ve downsized the office or forgone on a (planned) expansion based on increased headcount, there aren’t enough desks and meeting rooms for everyone. Set clear rules and then use a platform like FlexOS to let employees flexibly book desks, meeting rooms, and any other workspaces or amenities you’d like to make available.
- Collect Data to Improve the Office. The office of the future needs to be agile and continuously adapt. Using the desk and room booking modules on a platform like FlexOS also helps collect more data. This data can help you improve your office design – for example, the balance between focus and collaboration spaces – over time as the way we work evolves.
Building Connection and Community in a Hybrid Workplace
One of the most important things that suffer from hybrid work is relationships. Microsoft research for example shows that only half of remote employees maintain thriving relationships with their direct teams (4).
When people don’t connect and bond simply by being in the office simultaneously, connections between coworkers must be created and sustained more purposefully and programmatically. We shared three tips on how to do this well:
- Find Your Communities. The first step to facilitating the right people getting together is finding smaller subsets of like-minded employees. These “communities” could be teams, departments, project groups, or people with similar interests or life stages. Finding these groups is essential because people are likelier to build genuine connections in small circles.
- Create Community-Specific Content like events and activities. Now that you’ve found your communities, you can activate them. Ensure to tailor events & activities to individual employees’ needs. A few smaller weekly events around creativity, wellbeing, and other more niche topics will be more successful in connecting people than one big happy hour every month.
- Celebrate birthdays and other milestones. It’s easy to create a sense of connection through milestones, anniversaries, and birthday celebrations. Do so in a meaningful way, like a gratitude board.
Well-Being of Employees in Hybrid Work
Well-being can greatly suffer when work is always-on in the shift towards hybrid and remote work. Lack of work-life balance is among hybrid workers’ most frequently mentioned struggles. Companies need more explicit ways to drive employee well-being.
We shared 3 tips to make it work:
- Set clear expectations. It’s easy to misread situations when we focus on performance and outputs, not attendance. Clearly define and communicate every team member’s KPIs and OKRs, so that everyone transparently knows what to expect and when.
- Allow for downtime. Forward-thinking companies have rest built into their hybrid policies. While some of this may be ‘assumed,’ stating this clearly as a policy means employees know what to expect for themselves and each other.
- Help create “Work-Life Harmony.” The New York Times recently reported that a new kind of work day, “from 9-2 and then again after dinner,” has risen (5). Let employees plan their non-office days for ‘work-life harmony’, for example, by creating blocks for solo and collaborative work.
Kickstart Your Hybrid Office and Team
These are just some of the topics and questions raised by participants in the webinar. There are certainly many more challenges that employers have to face in order to build a successful hybrid work model.
Download our whitepaper “Hybrid Work in Southeast Asia” starter kit to learn how some of the best companies at Google, Hubspot, Airbnb, and more, launch and manage hybrid workplaces experts.
Sources used in this article
1. Cooper Project Spaces, “Reduce Costs with a Hybrid Working Model,” April 2021
2. The Business Times, “How the office can help businesses get ahead in the talent race,” August 2022
3. PWC, “Changing Place: Designing hybrid offices that work,” October 2021
4. Harvard Business Review, ” 5 Key Trends Leaders Need to Understand to Get Hybrid Right,” March 2022
5. The New York Times, “Working 9 to 2, and Again After Dinner,” April 2022