5 Mistakes To Avoid With Hybrid Working (and How to Fix It)
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:
- The Adapter who prefers the office to be a mix of coworking hubs and silent zones for focused work.
- The Soloist who defaults to working remotely but will come in for a face-to-face meeting.
- The Culturalist who wants the office to be a space for collaboration and socializing.
- The Traditionalist who prefers to work in the office full-time, at their assigned desk.
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:
- Access to teammates’ schedules to facilitate spontaneous encounter, casual catch-ups and collaboration.
- Ability to see who is in the office, where they are sitting and when to come in for those who are working remotely.
- Create recurring team schedules to boost engagement and productivity
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:
- Interactive floor plans offering real-time visibility into people’s movements. You can easily reserve a spot near your teammates and friends.
- Shared work schedules, visualized all in one place to coordinate with your teammates’ working hours and locations for effective collaboration.
- Recurring team meeting schedules that you can easily create and subscribe to.
- Advanced team manager permissions like reserving desks or rooms on behalf of others to make the most of their ‘in office’ days.
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:
- Easy user experience. Your desk booking app should be a joy to use and a tool that saves time and improves the employee experience.
- Real-time view of space availability (with a floor plan view) updated automatically and showing coworkers in the office.
- Well-rounded safety measures with the ability block/unblock spaces, self-certification, and touchless mobile check-in.
- Auto desk release to improve desk availability by releasing back to the pool workspaces that haven’t been checked into within a set time limit.
- Scalability. With a comprehensive integrations and directory sync, you won’t have to worry about business growth negatively impacting your space management solution or the quality of the user experience.
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:
- Microsoft discovered that more than half of its employees were spending less than ¼ of their time in the office, compared to their original plans.
- Trivago, a travel agency, spent months testing different scenarios for hybrid working and office setup until they found the optimal one.
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:
- Space usage data to help you
- identify the busiest times and areas and forecast demand;
- assess the efficiency of the workplace setup;
- identify opportunities to cut real estate;
- evaluate work patterns and adjust accordingly.
- Flexible policy settings that allow you to:
- change floor plans, add or remove desks on the fly;
- A/B test workplace designs;
- eliminate zombie bookings;
- respond to changing conditions in real time.
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.