Most modern offices are not optimized for hybrid working. They are too large and are often empty, especially when many colleagues work from home. Plus, even when employees do work from the office, the space is still optimized for the pre-hybrid days: rows of desks in an open floor plan, or mostly individual offices with a few shared spaces sprinkled about.
But the role of the office has changed. Employees can do many tasks just as easily – and even more efficiently – from home. The office is shifting from a place where work ‘simply gets done’ to a place that fosters social interaction as well as the type of spontaneous, innovative activity that cannot happen as effectively when everyone is working from home.
Tip 1: More Space for Socializing
We no longer come to the office to sit at our desks and work straight through the day. Many of us can (and prefer to) do that from home - with some peace and quiet. Instead, we come to the office to reclaim the social interaction we crave. Create spaces where employees can do just that: interact, collaborate, meet.
This means more than just a few extra sofas in the lounge. You need new concepts to foster collaboration between people and teams. More meeting rooms with whiteboards. More tables where colleagues can sit next to each other in small groups of two, three or four. And fewer individual offices or simple open spaces with countless rows of workstations.
Tip 2: Flexibility and diversity
The modern office must also be flexible so that it can reflect the wishes and needs of employees. It is often the case that people want to work in a more concentrated way from time to time. For that, you need quiet spaces that offer peace and comfort.
Or you have to make a phone call and don't want to disturb your colleagues. A telephone box would suffice here.
The American company LinkedIn has emphasized precisely these principles with its new headquarters in California. There are rooms for collaboration, concentrated work, and everything in between – all in the same building.
The company is really investing in this idea of choice and flexibility - Lisa Britz, Director Workplace Design at LinkedIn.
Tip 3: Implement Desk Sharing
With hybrid working, you need less office space. But to enable these cost savings, you’ll need to implement desk sharing.
With desk sharing, also called hot desking or flex desking, most people no longer have a fixed desk. The idea is to have a certain number of workstations that are available to everyone. However, these workstations are not tied to employees.Instead, anyone can book the workspace in advance and use it for a day or a certain number of hours.
The advantage? You can reduce the number of workspaces you need, and workstations don't remain empty if people don't come into the office that day.
Tip 4: Provide storage space
It sounds banal, but storage space is very important for a modern office. Especially if employees don't have a fixed workstation, they need a place/box/room where they can easily store their small, often personal, belongings. No one wants to carry a photo of their family in their backpack every day, but it makes a difference ifyou can look at it during the working day.
The same goes for IT equipment that you don't want to lug back and forth (e.g. keyboards, headsets,etc.).
Tip 5: Consider acoustics
What will the acoustics be like in the new workspace? Sound and noise levels are crucial in an office.The acoustics should be designed to create an atmosphere that makes employees want to go to the office. However, one should avoid creating so much noise that one loses concentration.
One way to dampen noise is to use carpet instead of wooden floors and sound-absorbing material on ceilings and furniture in more private areas - or to designate areas as"quiet zones".
But offices shouldn’t be silent. Less sound-absorbent materials should be used in areas intended for conversation. For example, in dining areas, kitchens, or common areas.