The COVID-19 pandemic has led to tragic ends- of lives, as well as conventional systems. Who expected a global pandemic to disrupt our lives out of the blue and confine us to our residences for months on end? It sounds like something we would only read about in history books in retrospect, or watch in a sci-fi film! But that’s how life works- you cannot predict such calamities beforehand, or stall them. What we can do, is be more vigilant and prepare ourselves to battle out the consequences.
The pandemic has had serious economic repercussions across the globe. The dismal ramifications have forced businesses to bring about organizational changes, with due consideration to the safety of employees, as well as to cut overhead costs.
‘Anywhere Operations’: The New Trend
Since the pandemic has made ‘work from home’ the norm, most of us are accustomed to home offices by now. However, not everyone has a work-friendly environment at home. Your work environment influences productivity to a massive extent, and being stuck in a stressful one could cause you to falter at work.
Let’s travel back in time- what was the ‘office’ like 30 years ago? Rigidly constructed cubicles, right? Yes, employees had enough privacy, but the privacy quickly escalated into isolation. Working for hours without any relaxation or breaks- stressful, isn’t it? Obviously, this led to unhappy employees who always complained about their mechanical work life.
The 2000s saw a revolution in what a conventional office space entails- more and more companies rejected cubicles and replaced them with open spaces. Open office spaces were collaborative and encouraged employee interactions. But then again, too much of anything can be problematic. Open offices are a lot noisier and it can be difficult to focus and compromised productivity.
So, what’s the solution? A well balanced and flexible office design, for sure. But how can you find the perfect balance? Many companies today are shifting to a ‘hybrid office space’, especially post-pandemic. Imagine you have guests over, and suddenly get an email about a zoom meeting that you must join immediately. You need not be vexed any longer- a hybrid office space is exactly what you need. It is an office arrangement where employees can visit occasionally and work. But the best part is, you can work at your own pace and juggle contractual work as well.
Remote Working: Adapting to Hybrid Office Space
Telecommuting or remote work is gaining popularity with each passing day. Remote working allows you to work from anywhere— domestic workplaces, co-working centres, or even while you’re travelling. You don’t have to commute to your conventional office regularly. It encourages collaborations and teamwork without employees being physically present in their offices.
But remote working also has its own set of problems. Let’s quickly get into the details to understand remote working better.
Benefits of Remote Working
- Productivity: Researchers have concluded that teleworkers are approximately 35-40% more productive than their office equivalents.
- Better Execution: With more grounded self-governance through freedom of location, employees perform more effectively with fewer work flaws.
- Real Estate Costs: Far-off empowered organizations or small scale businesses can get a good deal on a portion of the expenses related to onsite business tasks, including office space, hardware, and travel reimbursement. Remote working helps curb real estate costs as companies don’t have to commit to leases in the long run.
- Employee Satisfaction: Employees are no longer confined within four walls and can work according to their preference. Remote working does not necessitate long office shifts without any kind of social interaction or relaxation. It leads to greater satisfaction and promises a happy environment for employees to work in.
Pitfalls of Remote Working
- Isolation: When you work in an office with colleagues, contributing to the same projects and working under the same superiors- you have a lot to bond over. When working in a hybrid office space, you lose out on this connection and you may feel isolated. While traditional office spaces can be isolating in their own way, going out for dinner with your colleagues or catching up over a coffee break are definitely something to look forward to and establish a bond between colleagues.
- Interruptions: Working from home can contribute to major interferences while working. If you do not have a proper work environment at home, for instance, if you have small kids or a pet at home, it can lead to unwanted disturbances. On the other hand, some co-working spaces too can be quite noisy- you don’t have control over the decibel level of the people around you, or the music playing in the background may annoy you.
- Overworking: With remote working, you do not have a fixed office timing or a regulation on the working hours. This results in employees working for longer hours than what’s actually required. Overworking can lead to adverse health problems and fatigue.
Truth be told, it’s not always possible to work remotely. Many jobs, such as retail sales for instance, can never bring in the same results when you’re working from home. Besides the fact that we cannot completely rely on our home WiFis, some jobs will only have optimum outcomes when there is face-to-face communication and employee interaction.
Thus, companies finally started paying heed to office setups and spaces. The idea of a ‘hybrid office space’ is being embraced because it creates the perfect balance between working remotely and working out of an office. Thousands of companies have redesigned and overhauled their workspaces, to convert them into hybrid office setups that are beneficial for both employers and employees.
The Future is Hybrid: What is a Hybrid Office Space?
A hybrid office incorporates both distant working practices as well as onsite work. This office setup endeavors to combine two aspects– representatives can appreciate the advantages of telecommuting while keeping up social associations at the workplace. A hybrid team is a somewhat distributed labor force involving flexible specialists.
It implies the employees have the choice to pick whether to work from the office, distantly, or both. Reputed companies such as Amazon and Buffer have excellent hybrid teams.
Let’s check out some of the reasons why hybrid teams are getting more attention:
- Global Reach: The hiring of skilled workers has become very difficult these days, primarily because of expensive training procedures and lack of expertise in the market. But to make a hybrid team, you can hire globally- thus creating a fresh pool of talent. This enhances diversity in a company, and achieving organizational goals becomes easy.
- Better Communication: A hybrid team is known to have smoother communication. You might want to work at home whereas your colleague might prefer his office. But this does not hinder the interactions between employees. Rather, it builds stronger work relationships and promotes loyalty.
- Employee Prioritization: The primary motive of a hybrid team is more focus on team members and efficient workflow. Employees are given the liberty to work according to their preferences and wishes. Collaborations and team projects are an integral part of such a team.
Workspaces ‘On Need’ Basis
Keeping in mind important factors such as customer satisfaction, overhead costs, creativity and innovation, productivity, and overall well being of employees, major companies are opting for hybrid office spaces and looking out for a futuristic office set up. Here are a few companies reaping the benefits of having a hybrid office space option for their employees:
- Hubspot has already shifted to an extreme hybrid workplace instead of remote working. Being a customer-centric company, Hubspot has always been particular about customer reviews and satisfaction. They have well-distributed hybrid teams to keep their operations on point- for example, hybrid customer service teams who exclusively focus on providing better communication and services to customers.
- Shopify‘s CEO has mentioned that Covid is challenging them to work together in new ways. Although they strictly preferred working from home, the circumstances now have pushed them to go for hybrid office spaces instead.
- Eurokids, based in Mumbai, has decided to bring back their staff into the office on an ‘on need’ basis, while retaining employee safety as a prerogative. They are going the extra mile to make sure there’s no swapping of work areas and that employees are eating at their desks.
- Flipkart has also considered allowing some of its employees to commute to their offices, as and when they need to. However, employees are required to book their seats and desks beforehand to avoid any commotion and risk their health.
Implementation of hybrid workplace models is being accepted worldwide. But the question is what does it take to shift to a hybrid office?
Hybrid office culture is all about progress and optimum output. Firstly, being open-minded and readiness to embrace new ideas is extremely important if you are trying to adapt to this module of work. Only when you are ready to go through the challenges, you will be able to adapt to the cultural transition. Along with the cultural shift, prioritize your organizational goals.
Don’t forget to re-evaluate your plans and company objectives. Remember, a hybrid office is more employee-centric and customer-centric. Being more transparent with the employees will promote loyalty and form a stronger employee bond.
All in all, adapting to the evolving work trends can be challenging, but the benefits are definitely worth the effort!
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