5 Mistakes To Avoid With Hybrid Working (and How to Fix It)

  • Author Michael Bole, Product Manager

Many companies inadvertently sabotage their efforts at creating a great workplace experience. There are many indicators – difficulty to bring people back to the office, a lack of engagement, an increasing percentage of employees feeling lonely and isolated, to name a few.

Here are a few common mistakes and what to do instead.

Mistake #1: Not looking into what employees want from an office

People prefer to be in the office for at least a part of their workweek. But that alone isn’t enough to bring them in. The office needs to be a destination worth commuting to. That starts with a clear understanding of what constitutes a great employee experience in the office for your people. Without it, organizations will continue to struggle to bring people back in or worse – fight a wave of the Great Resignation.

The solution? Start by identifying the hybrid working personas in your organization. Our research on hybrid working reveals that most companies will have a combination of these four:

Understanding the mix of hybrid workers in your organization will be invaluable for evaluating how much office space to keep and how to design it for maximum effect.

Mistake #2: Underestimate the power of chance meetings

You may have noticed – most hybrid workers expect a workplace that facilitates collaboration. And not just to break free from the digital overwhelm.

Time in the office is their one chance to socialize, build relationships, network, and establish bonds with their colleagues and managers. It’s so important that 52% of US and UK workers prefer meeting in the office and 70% of Millennials and Gen Z fear loneliness and isolation if remote work becomes permanent.

It’s not just about optimizing your real estate costs either. Businesses with highly engaged employees see 41% lower absenteeism and considerably higher profitability. If collaboration and chance meetings aren’t happening in your offices (or if they’re hard to organize), you’re effectively dealing with the consequences of a poor workplace experience.

To fix it, give people the tools they need to curate more social and collaboration opportunities to promote employee engagement:

Mistake #3: Lack of visibility and transparency

Employees want to come to the office. The problem is figuring out when best to come in. It’s not enough to just have a solution to book a desk or a meeting room when the rest of it – comparing schedules to pick a meeting time, finding the right spaces with amenities they need and also communicating all that back in an email – taking hours out of their workweek.

This is one of the primary reasons why so many workplace managers struggle to bring people back to the office. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s that setting up another video call is just so much easier and faster.

The solution? Take the guesswork out of planning ‘in office’ days with shared visibility of work schedules.

Imagine if your people needed no more than a few minutes to check their colleagues’ work schedules to plan their workday and know exactly when to expect feedback. If they could see where in the office their teammates or manager plan to be. Quickly and easily – on the go or at their desktop. No stress, no time wasted on commute. To achieve that, you’ll need:

No second-guessing your office days, annoyingly time-consuming meeting coordination, or time and money lost commuting to a half-empty office. 

Mistake #4: Unscalable space booking process (…excel sheets)

One of the biggest drivers of employee anxiety about returning to the office is fear of not finding a desk that matches their needs – at the time they need it. A fear that’s fuelled by a complicated desk booking process that’s buggy or difficult to use, or an excel spreadsheet that is simply incomprehensible.

Employees need more than a solution to book a desk or a room. They want to be able to easily locate a workspace that matches their needs for the day.

To implement an effective desk booking system, that can be achieved with:

Mistake #5: Without a process for optimization

So you’ve repurposed and refurbished your offices. The numerous employee surveys were a bit confusing (since their answers kept changing) but you’ve taken those into account. A sigh of relief. You’re done, right? You’re not. Employees’ needs and expectations, the way we work will continue to evolve.

Don’t believe us? Consider this:

The only way to offer a continuously great workplace experience is through a well-established process of data analysis and optimization.

In design thinking, it’s a well-established fact – people often don’t know what they really want until they try it in practice. Hence, the prototyping phase. You need a combination of both: employee surveys and tools that deliver granular space usage insights you need to easily put into action. That includes:

With this level of actionable data, you’re prepared for any future scenarios. And let’s be honest, managing the workplace experience is a lot easier when you don’t have to do everything yourself, manually.

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