Hybrid Working often means splitting time between the office and elsewhere, a concept that quickly become standard as an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to YouGov, only 32% of the population had worked from home prior to the pandemic, however the need for social distancing meant that employers had to adapt quickly to ‘the new normal.’

What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working sits between the worlds of ‘working from home’ and full-time office work, meaning that staff often split their time between home and the office, where they may attend 2-3 days per week.

In Spring 2022, the guidance to work from home was no longer in place in Great Britain, yet according to the Office of National statistics, 38% of adults in work had reported having worked from home at some point in the previous week.

This way of working has drastically transformed the workplace, and more specifically, the office. The most widely cited reason for maintaining some element of working from home, has been improved staff wellbeing, followed by reduced overheads for the business.

With many workers reporting that this way of working increases their productivity, it’s a win-win scenario for both staff and business, and how do we adapt the office accordingly? The workplace is often the beating heart of a business, where collaboration flourishes, working relationships are developed, and act as opportunities to learn from each other and grow.

Is the office still important in a post-COVID landscape?

While working from has proven itself to have significant benefits to productivity, wellness and work-life balance, for many businesses, the office culture continues to be central to success. A positive workspace remains important to:

  • Support and on-board new members of staff and juniors, through mentoring, shadowing and involving them in decision-making
  • Promote the mission statement of the business and embed company culture
  • Encourage collaboration and teambuilding.
  • Promote positive mental health amongst staff and reduce isolation.

What does the hybrid office look like in 2022?

At the core of the hybrid office is ensuring that staff can move fluidly between their various domains – transitioning smoothly between the office and home. The hybrid office is one that has flexibility at its core, with different staff often sharing spaces, but with different needs.

The hybrid office may not reduce in floorspace; however it is likely that it may reduce in desks – as it’s more often the case than not, that the whole team will not be in the office at one time. Reducing desk space allows staff an element of privacy that they may be used to when working from home – which lends itself to focused work. In addition, it is important to appreciate that not all who return to the office are fully comfortable – with fears around hygiene, ventilation and close-contact still lingering.

Skanska reduced absenteeism by two thirds in their Doncaster office by making alterations to their layout, ventilation and lighting. They reported a saving of £28,000 on staff costs in one year thanks to this – re-enforcing the benefits of a comfortable workplace for both staff and the business.

A key priority when re-imagining your hybrid office is meeting rooms. One benefit of office days is the opportunity to collaborate and develop work relationships, and so the traditional boardroom no longer lends itself to this with long tables and cramped seating.

Businesses should instead consider modular spaces, allowing smaller teams to work together flexibly, but with privacy. Acoustic treatment of these spaces allows for open discussion, brainstorming and honest feedback, while high speed WiFi allows those in the office to collaborate with those who are working from elsewhere.

Hybrid Office Design: Ideas to consider...

Hotdesking – Once the domain of freelancers, hotdesking is now integral to hybrid working, with offices now having different combinations of staff each day, each with different needs. Ensuring power points, Ethernet access and high-speed Wi-Fi means that staff can plug-in and get to work within seconds.

Modular spaces – With no two days the same, it’s important to consider that needs may change regularly. Modular workspaces allow for the quick and easy movement of desks and spaces, to accommodate focused solo work, or energetic team meetings at the drop of a hat. Acoustic screens are a popular option to facilitate virtual meetings in privacy, while pods and booths are increasingly common options. Flexible meeting rooms can be scaled depending on the capacity and functions needed to suit your ever-changing needs.

Smart Office Tools – With team members often working off their own calendars, smart office tools allow meeting spaces to be booked, and sensors to make those rooms available to others when they become dormant. Temperature, ventilation and lighting can be automatically adjusted depending on the need, ensuring health and safety and a comfortable working environment.

Going green – Evidence shows that cognitive performance can double in a well-ventilated office, while a study from Exeter University increasing biophilia in the office improved productivity by up to 15%.

Office culture has undergone one of the most rapid transformations of our lifetime due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hybrid working has proven itself to have significant benefits, and it's up to organisations to take advantage of this and adapt accordingly. Adaptable, comfortable workplaces serve to bridge the gap between working from home and the traditional 5-day office experience, and in turn are boosting productivity, increasing staff morale and reducing absenteeism.

To discuss how Somerville can help you create a dynamic office space, contact us today.