November 8, 2022

What Impact is Hybrid Work Having on Workplace Design

What Impact is Hybrid Work Having on Workplace Design

Posted by CMBA Architects on Nov 8, 2022 8:00:00 AM

Employees aren’t using the office the way they used to. Hybrid working trends are in full swing, and employee expectations are shifting. While this shift has benefits, it also leaves many unanswered questions. Namely, what will happen with office real estate? In this post, we’ll explore the different ways hybrid work is impacting office real estate and how to get the most out of the spaces you currently have.

Hybrid Work is Here to Stay

While professionals have found their way back into the office post-pandemic, office spaces remain underutilized. The reason for this is clear – many companies have eagerly adopted flexible work policies and remote work options to stay competitive and keep employees happy.

It is estimated that 60% of companies will only need 50-70% of their existing office space in the coming three years. Is this really such a bad thing? We see the office taking on slightly new roles with new opportunities for business owners to save costs. After all, commercial real estate can be one of the most significant expenses for a company.

Work Policies Influence Design Goals

Setting up your offices with the right tools to handle hybrid working is one thing – equipping your workforce for the same is quite another. “Equipping your workforce” may seem unrelated to design and architecture, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The design of a workspace is immediately connected to the people, behaviors and policies that inhabit those spaces. These things do not exist in a vacuum.

It is important that the policies you have in place create clear guidelines around remote and on-premise work. Every company is different; it’s common sense that some companies will require more presence at the office than others. But have you considered the diversity within your company? Different teams and individuals within your company may benefit from different policies. The needs of a workspace aren’t universal, so organizing your policies among your teams is important. An issue that many companies find as they roll out their policies is inflexibility, which is ironic given the purpose of hybrid working. Make sure your policies make room for exceptions.

Attend to the Data

So, how much office space do you need? The key is to measure how much space is optimally in use. “Optimally” is key here, as in how your spaces are used matters.

For example, if we asked managers from various industries and business sizes if their meeting rooms were being successfully used, most of them may say they were. But how many of these managers will know metrics such as the idle or usage rate, show-up rate and occupancy rate per meeting?

These sorts of metrics will beat intuition more times than not. Paying attention to metrics such as these for all your spaces can give you insights into how optimally your office real estate is used. It is not all that uncommon for office spaces to be misused.

For example, let’s say that employees are using your meeting rooms as private offices. Without proper systems to track this, you could be left thinking you need more meeting rooms – when you just need more focused booths.

Finding the Right Balance

The war for talent is in full swing, and approximately 70% of employees worldwide expect employers to offer some degree of workplace flexibility. These numbers suggest that a company’s recruitment prospects may be greatly limited by choosing not to offer workplace flexibility.

Some are taking this even further by asking why they should keep the office at all. However, we’d argue this ignores the irreplaceable value of an office. Fully remote work can theoretically be good, but many less measurable variables – such as collaboration – can suffer. An office is a place where collaboration, company culture and work efficiency are enhanced. That is if your office real estate is optimized and well-adapted.

Is your company offering a hybrid work model for employees? Why or why not? Let us know!


Topics: General-WOYM