Whether or not the pandemic recedes in the future, by all means, one thing is clear — the future of work is hybrid! Global research tells us, a majority (72%) of corporates plan to offer a hybrid workspace. For India, we already see projections that predict a 10-15% year-on-year rise in flexible office spaces in the next three years.
It means corporates have to create seamless systems and solutions that are convenient, agile, and safe to complement the hybrid workspace trend.
How to do all of this so that both companies and employees are well-adapted to today’s ‘new normal’ workspaces? Let’s understand.
What is a Hybrid Workspace?
A hybrid workspace can be thought of as a flexible setup that gives its employees the freedom to work out of their homes or the office or allow them to switch between the two as and when the need arises, in a manner that their productivity is at par.
Practical Ways to Make Safe Hybrid Workspaces
As the workforce re-enters physical workspaces, managing schedules, assigning resources and spaces, and figuring out ways to manage physical collaboration amongst the employees will be critical factors.
A safe workspace no longer means a neat, clean and dust-free working facility. To help employees feel confident of returning to work productively, companies need to go a step further and take proactive measures to help employees feel ‘safe’ in the true sense of the word.
1. Sanitise Spaces
A transparent first approach is to sanitise every nook and corner of the workspace. Then, an unobvious but great strategy is to go digital and upload janitorial requests, wherein employees can quickly press a button and notify once they are done using a particular conference room, meeting area, or even their desks, which the janitorial staff will promptly clean. This will put an added layer of safety and help employees feel protected.
2. Phasing in Employees
Adopting a phased-based return to work is another excellent work way to ensure safety at workplaces. Ensure there are no ad-hoc or unplanned work arrangements, where everybody drops into the office on a Monday morning together, only to witness a fully occupied workplace and end up feeling unsafe.
3. Digitise Space Booking
Have a digital platform where employees can easily schedule their next in-person meetings without clashing with others. Have a mobile app that will allow employees to book space in advance to conduct smoothly.
Practical Ways to Make Smart Hybrid Workspaces
More and more companies are turning towards hybrid ways of working, which will help employees concentrate on more critical tasks at hand and boost productivity.
1. Implement Hub and Spoke Model
One of the best ways of achieving this is to lean on a ‘hub and spoke’ work model, which will house company headquarters in a major city along with a cluster of small local hubs spread near to employees’ homes, where they can simply drop in and finish off their work.
2. Have Meeting Pods
Another way to replicate this model within the current workspaces would be to chart small spaces into ‘task-based zones’. For example, small meeting pods can be an efficient and effective way to complete task-based work in time.
This is important since the current work setup is hardly in line with employees who need their own quiet time to work peacefully instead of a group of four employees who need to brainstorm and throw ideas around for a constructive conversation.
3. Use Technology
What’s more, these meeting pods could be embedded with collaborative touch screens through which multiple employees can complete their meetings almost virtually. Moreover, companies can harness technology in virtually every other domain.
4. Mobile-App Bookings
Going further, it would be no surprise to find local town based drop-in collaboration meeting pods, through which meetings can be booked via an app, similar to booking an Uber.
Hybrid workspaces will implement a mix of drop-in collaboration and presentation spaces that will optimise work by making suitable adjustments to adhere to acceptable social distancing norms and feel safe.
Charting Out a Safe & Smart Employee Experience
It is crucial to ensure that employees find their commute to workspaces worthwhile to transition to the’ return to work’ mode without any hiccups. This can be done by keeping a safe and intelligent employee experience in central focus.
1. Digitise In-office Visits
Imbibe technology in everyday usage, along with productivity tools that will streamline work for employees more efficiently. For example, a simple glance at a digital diary tells them they can visit the office and expect an empty meeting room or expect the required colleagues to present there to complete a task at hand.
2. Eliminate Time Consuming Processes
The boring spreadsheets and slow software with outdated manual processes are bygones. Today’s employees expect fast-paced processes and systems that no longer require taking dozens of permissions or going through long waiting periods. They need digital transformation in every work sphere, recording their attendance, attending meetings, completing their work, sending out emails etc.
3. Stay Flexible
Companies must work together to create a safe and productive work environment that speaks highly of flexibility, agility, and a digitally nuanced workplace to deliver a bundle of positive employee experiences.
To Sum Up
The future of work (or present) presents challenges that need to be handled as they come, adapt and change as needed. Even though the digital route is the way to go, what’s more imperative right now is not to lose sight of employee health and safety first.
Only if a company can carefully strike a balance between its people’s safety and develop a solution for hybrid workspaces full of intelligent technologies can they successfully sustain and thrive.