Effective Team Building for a Hybrid Workforce

Hybrid workforces present unique conundrums – the contrast between those in the office and those not can increase the difficulties of engaging remote employees. For team building, this often results in the haves and have-nots. Beyond having great audio-visual equipment, that can make group meetings sound and look close to their in-person counterparts, there are a few things leaders can consider to create team-building activities that engage and unite both constituencies.

Here are three concepts spectrums to consider when planning out events for your team that may or may not be 100% in person. Making sure you’re getting the balance right across these spectrums will ensure a rich and inclusive environment for your hybrid team-building activities.

Coordinated vs. asynchronous

With people in disparate locations, it’s hard, and sometimes impossible, to do something simultaneously and have it be fun for everyone. Speaking as someone who has worked 11 time zones away from their colleagues, Zoom pizza-making classes just aren’t that fun at 5 am.

Another factor with asynchronous events is that getting people to act silly or be vulnerable can be more challenging because you have to save the proof and share it across time zones. This is why Snapchat was so successful; people are much more willing to share things if their video disappears in 24 hours. Thus asynchronous isn’t great for emotional team-building events, but it can be good for light-hearted competition or driving repeatable 1:1 engagements. That being said, live events are the gold standard for shared experiences. Setting up opportunities for group experiences is a core foundation of many team-building plans.

Asynchronous Ideas

  • Visual bake sale. The entire team bakes something off of one recipe, competing to make the most visually appealing version. Those in the office can taste test, but the winner is for the presentation. Points are also awarded for the biggest failures!
  • Scavenger hunts designed for teams that are mixed between home and office ensure people are mingling despite the location. This is also a great virtual-only option
  • Coffee Donut in Slack, an often noted application over the pandemic, but it’s much better when there’s a chance for a real, barista-made coffee for those coming into the office at least sporadically

Concurrent ideas

  • Magicians and other entertainers who have pivoted their shows to virtual are now offering combo performances, where they perform live in the office but professionally recorded so those at home can also experience it.
  • Some classes can work in a hybrid situation, such as cocktail making or a virtual painting class. It’s not quite the same for people at home, but it does allow everyone to enjoy their output.
  • Meyers-Briggs and other personality or work style assessments. While the inputting of the survey is alone time, understanding how different styles work together via a facilitator works just as well in person and virtual.

Collaborative vs. Competitive 

Lots of team building, particularly the “fun” stuff, is either competitive or collaborative. To decide which option is suitable for your team, it’s good to ascertain what problem you are solving. If your team is suffering from disenchantment and a loss of purpose – competitive! Harness the bonding power of “us versus them!” But a collaborative event is more beneficial if your team is suffering from too much-siloed work and losing the chance to problem-solve together.

Competitive

  • Screenshot Bingo: Challenge your team to screenshot or photograph humorous office moments off of their custom Bingo cards, like twin outfits in the office, someone’s cat appearing on screen, or the ubiquitous “you’re on mute” moment in the team call.
  • Murder mystery (and other traditional games): Anything that can be played over a more extended time period, allowing people to dip in and out, is great for hybrid teams. Fun prizes for winners are a must!

Collaborative

  • Escape rooms: make sure they are built on the idea of collaboration; if everyone is solving the same puzzle alone, it doesn’t give much bonding opportunity.

The Delight Factor

And one bonus! The delight factor! Delight is a way of saying how much of this activity is a special treat. Inviting a famous cocktail mixologist to share their craft using unique ingredients versus everyone grabbing a glass of their favorite beverage and doing a basic happy hour over Zoom are opposites on the delight scale. In normal times, both have their benefits, and not everything can be over the top. But this is an unprecedented moment in workplace rapport and aiming for the delight factor is an excellent way to welcome colleagues back to “normal” office life.

Bonding with colleagues is an important part of having a trusting, happy, productive team. Leaders who find ways to connect their remote and in-person teams, giving everyone ample opportunity to form deeper bonds with their colleagues, will find they have a more engaged, more effective workforce.

Your Business Needs a Hybrid Working Policy – Here’s what your need to consider

Hybrid working is one of the most important conversations in business currently. Whether your team has been hybrid from day one or you have transitioned to a more hybrid setup, your business needs a proper policy.  The word “policy” may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Getting it right and a clear policy can create higher employee satisfaction and lower your costs, too. 

Here, we’re sharing everything you need to know and consider to nail hybrid working. 

Update your hybrid working policy on the regular

First things first, remote working is an ever-changing thing. Every business should make a habit of auditing how all employees are wanting to work (specifically new employees) and update their policy on the regular. It is important that everyone feels like they have a say in hybrid working. You can do this via employee surveys or by gathering team-by-team feedback. It’s also key to be clear and concise in your hybrid working policy to prevent any confusion. Clear is kind.

Ultimately, creating a policy is about giving your team opportunities to work from an office, home and in flexible workspaces near them – and how exactly they can do so. As a high proportion of teams get a full time office ones again, it is important to be clear with your employees how often they are expected to come in and when. No one wants to come into the office, only to be on zoom call all day. 

Be sure to cover all aspects of hybrid work

That includes working locations (including international), working hours, booking systems, expensing workspace and travel.  If it sounds challenging, don’t fret. We’ve got you.

Here’s a list of questions every business should ask themselves when creating a hybrid working policy:

  • Who does your hybrid working policy apply to – is it all staff, full-time staff only or otherwise? 
  • How often are staff expected to come into the office and how will you determine what days employees to come in?
  • How will employees book desks or meeting rooms at the office?
  • Are staff able to work overseas?
  • Do we want to support our employees with local, on-demand workspace passes as part of our hybrid working policy? And if so, how will they book the space?
  • What data security measures do we need to mention to keep sensitive information safe when working remotely?
  • Do we want to offer core working hours or fixed working hours?
  • What is our remote working approval policy? 

Bring together your People and Ops teams to answer these questions and you’ll be ready to create your hybrid working policy.

Get your hybrid working policy checklist here to ensure everything is covered as you transition your business model to a hybrid work model.

Give your team a workspace they want to go to

Over the past six months there has been a large uptick in demand for offices. Companies as part of their hybrid policy are expecting and/or offering employees to work from their company office. 

It is important to recognise that in order to be persuaded to come to the office, employee are demanding higher quality office, with a range of amenities. At Tally Market, we are seeing companies downsize their office but upgrading the quality of their office in order to galvanise their employees to come in and collaborate. 

Things to consider when choosing an office:

  • Location (it is important to consider commenting times and local bars/events for socials)
  • Size (most companies are getting an office approx 60% of their total workforce)
  • Access meeting rooms 
  • Amenities – bike racks, showers and coffee machine are a must. Nice to haves include roof terraces, gyms, on-site cafes, barista made drinks, events.  

Read more: Transforming the Destination Workplace

Access to on-demand coworking and meeting rooms

During the pandemic, remote working for many businesses was straightforward: everyone worked from home until further notice. Simple. However, as the world has opened back up, you have the opportunity to be more creative with how your team works remotely. Enter flexible workspaces, meeting rooms and venues.

When thinking about hybrid working, working from home and working from the office aren’t your only options. For some people, working from home doesn’t work well. Whatever the case, giving your people access to on-demand coworking and meeting rooms help teams stay local, switch up their environment and spark new ideas. Giving your teams access to flexible workspaces closer to where they live is a new way of supporting them.

If you’re looking for help in approaching hybrid working, look no further. Tally Market’s team can help your team find a new full time office to call home and/or give them access to thousands of on-demand spaces across the globe. 

How to build a recession-proof workplace

With inflation stubbornly clinging to a 40-year high, and fuel prices setting an all-time record, the economic recovery post-pandemic is looking bleaker than ever. The truth is, we all know that conditions are tough right now, but we also know this is an opportunity for businesses to build and grow – and here are 5 things you should be considering.

1. Reduce real estate, not your headcount

During times of turmoil, it comes as no surprise for businesses to focus on reducing costs, and traditionally, the quickest, most effective way to do this is to reduce headcount. But now the hybrid workforce has opened up another option for business leaders, which is to reduce real estate costs.

In fact, a recent Leesman study revealed that the demand for office space is about to decline substantially and they suggest one model of the future office is ‘twice the experience, half the space’. According to CBRE’s 2022 Survey, 52% of business leaders said they will reduce office space over the next three years because of hybrid work.

There is a real opportunity for businesses to adopt hybrid working and save on real estate costs, and understanding how their spaces are being used would be an obvious place to start. Here are a few ways to get started:

  1. Space usage data shows that Mondays and Fridays are traditionally slow days; consider closing spaces, floors, or whole buildings on these days to save costs on energy, cleaning, security, etc.
  2. Use a space management tool to gain insights into buildings, office neighborhoods, and occupancy in real-time, daily or weekly. The data can inform how best to even-out office traffic with reduced office spaces, by designating specific areas for certain teams on selected days.
  3. Enforce a proper desk hoteling process to get visibility on who has booked to come into the office (or who hasn’t shown up) to optimize availability and release unused desks.

Read more: How MOPAC Implementing desk booking with 83% adoption

2. Find opportunities to optimize your workspace

An economic crisis usually inspires change. Those that adapt tend to outperform those that don’t, and sadly one of the biggest mistakes business leaders are still making is to expect everything to return to the old ways of working.

Employees aren’t using spaces as they were before, they have become intentional about how they work, valuing time spent together with their teammates when it is purposeful, whether that means team building or project-specific. When office spaces are not fit for purpose, the impact of under-utilized spaces can become exponential, potentially costing businesses up to £12 billion for all of their wasted office spaces.

Reducing overall real estate is perhaps a short-term option, but the key approach business owners should take is finding the opportunities to optimize their workspaces in the long run – and that starts with understanding employee behaviour and preferences (ie. when they come into the office, what the purpose of their time in the office is, and with whom). Workplace optimization relies on accurate data, here are a few examples to get started:

  • Bookings data inform your office space demand, enabling managers to control which areas are available for use, and then make adjustments accordingly.
  • Analyze usage data to find areas with low occupancy for repurposing and redesigning.
  • Monitor historical occupancy trends and preferences to inform future space planning decisions for office renovations or relocations

The bottom line here is that your people are your greatest asset. Providing a fit-for-purpose space for them to thrive and flourish should be your main focus, and will put you on a path to success in the long run.

3. Make retaining your best talent a priority

Now, not having a major headcount reduction doesn’t mean your people will decide to stay. We are in the midst of a ‘workers economy,’ and people are more ready than ever to look for work elsewhere if they aren’t getting what they want. With over 40% of the global workforce considering leaving their company, a thoughtful approach to creating a great hybrid workplace experience will be critical for retaining talent.

Many companies are currently experimenting with their own hybrid work model that would offer the best of both worlds, remote and in-person. Employees talk in survey after survey about the benefits of work-life balance, and better overall mental health working from home. With record-high oil prices these days, people would be able to save on fuel by not having to travel to work every day, not to mention wasted commutes only knowing their teammates aren’t in the office (read more here on how to avoid that!).

So how can we create a better hybrid workplace experience for your people?

  • Create a purpose for your office space: Your people are going to be more intentional about where they work and with whom. To draw a dispersed workforce in, you need to reimagine the office to become a destination that people want to spend time in.
  • Trust should be at the heart of your hybrid workplace: A successful hybrid working culture relies on employers trusting that people will get on with their job away from the office, without being watched. Instead of telling people how to work (ie. the 3-2 hybrid schedule), we should empower them to make their own choices to do their best work.
  • Empower people with the tools they need to coordinate their work week efficiently: Being able to synchronize time with teammates, get visibility to available spaces easily, and access to amenities they need to ensure their in-person time is a smooth and stress-free experience.
  • Understanding your employee persona: We bet you’ve got some people who like to get their heads down and work away in silence, and others who are always networking and love being in the office. Then there are the work moms, eager interns, the list goes on. Understanding the different workplace personas in your organization will put you in a great position to create a hybrid working environment that works across the board. It will help you judge the most effective office setup for a great in-person experience, while understanding what support your people might need while working remotely.

Get our RTO survey toolkit to better understand how they prefer to work.

4. In-person for collaboration, remote for deep work

The past two years of the ‘WFH experiment’ have reshaped the way we think about work entirely. The truth is, you don’t need your people in the office every single day. According to Adam Grant, great collaborations and productivity don’t involve constant contact, they alternate between deep work and bursts of in-person interaction (aka hybrid working!)

Effective in-person collaboration is vital to any business, not only does it help teams work together towards their goals, but it can also make employees feel happier, more motivated, and strengthen organizational culture. When hybrid working is done right, it will help employees achieve the right balance between the two to maintain the flexibility benefits, while blending the creativity boost gained from in-person interactions.

From an operating costing standpoint, an effective hybrid working strategy combined with a productive remote workforce could generate savings without slowing your business down (potentially saving as high as $11,000 per employee, according to this study) – and here’s why:

  1. Reduce the need for a 1:1 desk/people ratio (only pay for the spaces you need!)
  2. More efficient use of meeting spaces, with meetings happening on team days and eliminating ‘room squatters’
  3. Reduction in travel, energy, and utility costs
  4. Save costs on office amenities such as coffee, food, paper, stationery, etc.
  5. People are more productive with work-life balance (results in higher retention!)

 

Source: Global Workplace Analytics

5. Outperform your competitors

“You cannot overtake 15 cars in sunny weather…. but you can when it’s raining.” Ayrton Senna

 

There is no doubt that hybrid is here to stay. But still, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to “the best hybrid working strategy”. Every company will have its own approach that works best for its people and culture. The key takeaway is that companies that embrace hybrid will outperform those that don’t, and that can be explained on three levels:

  • People: A successful hybrid working model will open up a wider pool of talent while maintaining the quality of life for your existing workforce (better productivity, better retention!)
  • Profit: A productive hybrid workforce combined with an effective hybrid working strategy could generate savings without slowing your business down.
  • Planet: A reduced real estate portfolio means lower energy emissions and overheads.

Hybrid working

Conclusion

Employee preferences will continue to evolve and present challenges for business leaders. Even at times of disruption, with the right mindset and strategy, companies can create right-sized, effective hybrid working environment that work for their people, and improve their bottom line. Organizations that get hybrid right will become the winner and outperform their competitors. Now it’s up to businesses to design work around their people, maintaining the flexibility they’ve become accustomed to, and enabling them to get their best work done, wherever they choose.

Effective Hybrid Meetings 101: Best Practices & Tips To Get Your Team On The Same Page

It’s the dawn of a new era at the office. You want to navigate your hybrid workplace efficiently and get the most out of every meeting to ensure that exchanging information inspires innovation, collaboration, and productivity. Like it or not, meetings are a necessary evil.

One thing is sure: Your old meeting methods might not be as effective in your current work environment. You don’t want too many meetings since they are counterproductive and tamper with employee creativity and morale.

What about the soloists in your meetings, the individuals you assume have nothing to contribute to the meeting? Maybe the introverts might be harboring the most insightful ideas yet. So, how do you harmonize all these factors to get the most out of your hybrid meetings?

Start With Understanding

Why do you need to approach your meetings from an understanding perspective?

  • You gather the information that provides the insight you need to determine whether your office structure is designed to cater to the needs of everyone
  • It allows you to create an environment that inspires growth and innovation among your teammates, especially your introverts

Think back to your last office meeting. Take a consensus around the room, study every member present, and notice how they respond and engage throughout the meetings. You’ve probably realized that you have two groups of people in your team: the extroverts and the introverts.

Now, everyone loves extroverts because they bring meetings to life. We dare to argue that the office is designed for extroverts. These are the people you first present with promotions and opportunities for career advancement because they are visible. The introverts, however, are often overshadowed and forgotten amid brainstorming sessions or team-related activities. Sadly, many offices barely get a chance to witness their brilliance because they are the quiet ones at work, making it harder to recognize them and their contributions.

But did you know the right environment inspires your quiet colleagues to share their ideas and contentions? Understanding every team member is vital for running an effective meeting and getting the most out of everyone.

What Makes Your Introverts Tick?

Introverts are, in essence, neurodivergent. They do not respond to working environments the way most people do. Instead, they find loud environments overwhelming, judgmental comments might trigger their anxiety, and they prefer to remain in quiet corners.

Drawing out ideas from your silent employees requires you to start by offering a safe environment for them to be themselves. Understand how they process information. The quiet ones take more time to process information before coming up with the most insightful ideas and perspectives. Your introverts like to listen, gather information, and then take time to assess everything before making independent actions. On the other hand, extroverts think on their feet and quickly share their insights.

This diversity encourages you to create a space where every employee’s needs are met, whether in a meeting or working on their daily tasks.

Creating Space For Everyone’s Needs

Where the needs differ is where the magic of creating a balanced team happens. Your new hybrid workplace, whether you are hot desking or hoteling, is a perfect environment for your extroverts. Why?

Every employee gets to select where they want to work, whether they prefer collaborative or occasional private spaces. But for introverts, it can be much more challenging to work in a room surrounded by people chatting or working together on a project.

Therefore, include an environment that is entirely designed for isolation. Allow this room to be entirely silent to provide your introverts the space they need to think and reflect. This space will allow your quiet employees to recharge and collaborate better before starting your meeting.

It also allows them to generate better ideas for your projects. After all, the best eureka moments happen in silence. Outside the silent room, consider including neighborhoods that cater to introverts. For example, design a space with low volume where people can sit and talk.

Build Connections Within Your Team

Now, you might be wondering why connections are essential for creating effective meetings in the workplace. If so, think back to the water cooler conversations you were looking forward to every day during your break before the pandemic forced us to keep social distance.

While they took less than five minutes, these conversations were the kicker you needed to get the morale to finish your big project or get insightful ideas on tackling challenging tasks. This was also the perfect opportunity to better understand your workers and connect with them beyond working tasks and responsibilities.

Do you remember how that made you feel about your colleagues? Did you check up on your teammates and their families? Was it easier for you to trust them and share your ideas? Imagine if this was the same connection you had with every member in your meeting.

Connections make it much easier for everyone in the meeting to share their thoughts, ask questions, and collaborate. Getting everyone to share ideas ensures you get the most value from your employees’ skills and capabilities. This is precisely the type of interaction you are looking for.

The best part about building connections is that the entire process doesn’t have to be boring. You can start by building office neighborhoods that create synergy among your workers. Then introduce activities that will make your meetings introvert-friendly.

Plan Your Meeting Ahead of Time

The goal here is to create a space where every individual in the meeting feels comfortable contributing and collaborating. As such, where your extroverted team members are comfortable going into the meeting clueless, your introverts might prefer some guidance beforehand, especially if you want them to contribute to the conversations.

Therefore, plan your meeting ahead of time. Remember, for most introverts, engaging in a crowd can be overwhelming. But planning allows them to prepare mentally for these interactions. As a bonus, it reduces your meeting time, thus, enhancing your productivity.

It Also Allows You To Choose the Perfect Time To Meet Your Team Members

You don’t want to meet in the morning because most employees are still trying to get the hang of the day. You want to avoid meeting your team immediately before or after lunch. Most people are hungry and sleepy and less attentive during this time.

Don’t set the meeting minutes before clocking out time because employees are already losing concentration and tired from the day’s work. Let’s not forget about Friday; it’s Friday, the last day you should set a meeting.

Instead, the best time to schedule your meeting is mid-morning when your team has already started working, their energy level is high, and their focus is at its peak. Mid-afternoons also work because most tasks are complete, and your employees are still productive.

How Do You Plan for Your Meeting?

Outline the objectives of the meeting. Give a list of your attendees, especially if they are meeting for the first time. Collect all the material you will need for the meeting, like presentation slides. Include a list of questions that will provoke conversation.

For instance, include several topics and ask each member to choose one. Then when in the meeting, ask them to share their ideas regarding the topic. Ask provocative questions your dissenters will love to answer. 

These are questions that bring out the negative side of your project, like the reasons why the project will fail or why it could go wrong.

Let Your Dissenters Speak and Encourage Bad Ideas

Let’s introduce dissenters, the people that might undermine your plan, but only so that you can make it better. You’ve probably been told that having yes-men in your close circle will only hinder you from actual growth, and with good reason.

Having support is critical. But when accolades and no positive criticism often surround us, we become stagnant and comfortable. The same idea applies to your meeting. You need people who look at the glass half empty to provide a different perspective on your idea.

Besides, there is always a positive and negative side to something, and being effective means looking at every scenario and analyzing how it affects the outcome. So don’t allow your dissenters to keep their opinions to themselves. Allow them to speak up and share their contentions. This is how you come out of the meeting with an effective plan.

Sometimes, you will find that your meeting is at a stalemate. When this happens, start to encourage bad ideas. The worst ideas might be the ones to jog back your mind into creativity and better ideas. Bad ideas can help you arrive at the solution faster.

Take Care of Your Silent Workers

Introverts are excellent listeners, thoughtful speakers, deep thinkers, detailed observers, and compassionate leaders. All these are qualities you want in a meeting because they breed the best ideas. However, you cannot get the type of value your introverted employees have if you don’t create a safe space to shine and collaborate. Creating a successful and effective hybrid meeting means providing an environment where everyone feels safe to provide input without the fear of judgment.

Therefore, know your employees, make your working environment a safe space, and encourage them to build connections within the organization. But above all, make sure your quiet workers are not invisible.

Kadence 2.0: The next phase of hybrid working

‘You can’t put people in a box’ – it’s one of the resounding phrases we often think about at Kadence. A gentle yet constant reminder to ourselves to build products that empower people to really thrive in their work. 

For too long many people have operated within restrictive parameters in their work which sadly for many has hindered their true potential to be really great in it. Of course as humans we like processes and familiarity in our work yet we’ve been awakened to a whole new way of getting work done. Companies have realized that the trust and autonomy they gave to their employees during the pandemic breathed a freshness into company culture and their people produced the goods as a result.  

 

 

Now that teams are chomping at the bit to return to the office to collaborate with their teammates face-to-face, wouldn’t it be a wise move to try and make that happen?

Whether you’re looking for a quick fix to solve a current problem, or you’re looking to future-proof your office for hybrid working, Kadence has the platform you need to guide you through the obvious complexities of hybrid work. 

Discover our new solutions below, or chat with one of our teams today to find out how we can help bring your teams back together! 

How to Set Up Office Neighborhoods That Create Synergy

It’s not merely enough to have a business model that supports both in-person and remote employees. Instead, your new business model should be flexible enough to cater to the flexibility of the different work styles and schedules.

Office neighborhoods software allows you to meet these demands head-on. As such, knowing the different office neighborhood sections enables you to put seats and employees together in a way that supports every individual, team, and department in your organization.

Our desk booking software solution also makes it easier for employees to easily find their seats as they navigate through different tasks and demands, like navigating from individual work to collaboration activities.

What Are Office Neighborhood?

In its simplest form, this is a combination of the open office and the traditional cube office floor plan but with a higher resemblance to an open office plan. However, the office neighborhood layout is grouped into synergetic workers, making employees members of a community or group rather than individuals in different departments.

The strategy uses urban physics, an engineering concept that gets insights from studying interactions between people in a city and discovering problems, trends, and opportunities. It then uses this information to design an optimal working environment with better interactions.

Matching Employee Needs

The more your office neighborhood fits your employee needs, the more effective it is. For instance, an office neighborhood layout incorporates quiet and collaborative sections, giving employees various options to work more productively.

By including sections where employees can brainstorm and interact, you create a space that caters to every employee’s working style. The strategic placement of your desks additionally ensures you follow the social distancing protocols.

Neighborhood Sections

Typically, each section seats at least 30 people, and the groups are based on the function, activity, project, or amenities available for work. Additionally, office neighborhood seating is organized into either desk hoteling or hot desking.

The hot desking seating arrangement allows employees to select their desks every day on a first-come, first-served basis. The desk hoteling will enable employees to pre-book a desk space either by the hour, day, or week and check-in once they arrive at the office. Different groups can also book a group of desks.

Different Types Of The Office Neighborhood Layouts

There are many different suggestions on the types of neighborhood sections you should have in your office. But the trick is to get the one that suits your employee’s needs the best. As such, the most common types of neighborhoods include the following:

  • Open seating office neighborhoods
  • Team specific office neighborhoods
  • Activity-based office neighborhoods

Open Seating Office Neighborhoods

As the name suggests, the open seating office neighborhood allows employees to sit anywhere in the section, as long as the space is accessible to the employee. This plan is perfect for employees that prefer a more flexible work culture since it allows them to work from any desk.

It also caters to specific employee needs, like meeting on a sofa during brainstorming activities instead of rigidly assigned desks or office boardrooms. Ensure these spaces are also equipped with tools like whiteboards to facilitate effective working. An open seating neighborhood is ideal for remote, volunteer, or traveling employees and other visitors.

Team Specific Office Neighborhoods

In this section, only a specific team can sit in the neighborhood. For example, you can have different sections for a sales team floor plan and a customer support team floor plan. The best time to use a team-specific office neighborhood is to provide a custom experience for each employee.

Also, different teams often have different needs. For example, a sales team needs spaces to store sample products while the design team requires large desks and fixed monitors to create product plans and design prototypes. This means that a one-size-fits-all seating setup is not ideal for your employee working sections.

Activity-based Office Neighborhoods

Do you have a special team with special activity needs? If yes, an activity-based office neighborhood is ideal for meeting the needs of these employees. Keep in mind that different floor plans support various work activities, meaning you need a flexible plan when arranging your desk clusters.

As such, this is the perfect seating model if your employees have special requirements for their workstations or if employees need unique spaces for certain types of working activities like group work on occasion.

Examples Of Neighborhoods In Offices

Small and large companies can customize their office neighborhoods entirely. As these examples show, you should aim to build neighborhoods that provide your employees excellent satisfaction instead of adopting the trending options.

  • Google: The Company used urban physics to design their Chicago workspace, thus, creating a neighborhood that looks like a speakeasy. The section has increased connections and innovative creativity among Google employees due to its intimate setting.
  • Groupon: The Company’s conference room is tiki bar-inspired, meaning it provides an escape for employees, an ideal setting for brainstorming ideas.
  • Uber: Uber headquarters have smaller neighborhood sections that provide a unique sense of collaboration, community, and shared support.
  • Gerson Lehrman Group (GLC): their office is arranged into neighborhoods that model the activity-based working neighborhood type, allowing employees to work together on similar projects. 

Implementing And Managing Office Neighborhoods

As mentioned, an office neighborhood includes a variety of sections that include large communal tables, standing desks, pods or focus booths, conference rooms, huddle rooms, hot desks, and breakout spaces.

Prepare First

But before implementing an office neighborhood design, it is essential that you first determine your employee needs. Also, office neighborhood software like Kadence can help you design, schedule, and manage your sections and seating arrangements.

For instance, a modern workplace scheduling system is excellent for gathering workplace analytics to use when designing how to utilize your office space effectively. Our Space Management solution tells you which rooms are used the most by employees, making it easier to understand and fashion your neighborhoods according to employee preferences.

Keep Employees in Mind

Design thinking, together with employee feedback from surveys of running focus groups, put you in your employees’ shoes. This space is excellent for generating ideas to transform your office into fantastic neighborhood sections.

Keep in mind that your seating setup affects your bottom line. As such, you need strategic seating that will boost your ROI and employee productivity. This also means using technology solutions that facilitate your office neighborhood setup. One such solution is desktop booking software.

Desktop Booking Software

office neighborhood

The solution allows you to create a neighborhood with flexible seating arrangements that meet your employees’ needs. For instance, check the request of your employees on the software data and create a seating that fits their demands. Meaning, you offer options like open space or hot desks if that is what your employees want. A desktop booking software also makes it easier for workplace managers to organize seating arrangements based on the specific needs of different departments.

If your office is hybrid, the software can create several types of neighborhoods like bookable seating for hybrid workers that require specific slots during the days they come to the office, open seating for unannounced workers or visitors, and assigned seating for employees that require dedicated seating arrangements.

Make Your Spaces Work For Your People

An excellent workplace scheduling software solution provides added features and capabilities that make setting up and managing an office neighborhood seamless. For instance, features in your software solution might include desk permissions to customize different desks to specific departments or employees, neighborhood reporting to help collect data that is useful for optimizing your office sections, and integration capabilities with tools like Outlook that further enhance office processes. Besides, a synergic office neighborhood section is a perfect system for putting your employees top of mind, making it easier for them to remain motivated, productive, and engaged at work. 

Introducing Personal Kadence: Finding the right time and place to collaborate easily

Remember before the pandemic when everyone would work at the same time and in the same place? Remember how easy it was to connect with the right people for the right project? 

 

Kadence Hybrid Operating System diagram schedules

 

Conclusion: Finding the right time to collaborate with your colleagues in the right place in remote working is hard….but it doesn’t have to be.

Today we’re introducing the secret sauce to Kadence’s Hybrid OS to help fix scheduling setbacks: Personal Kadence

So whether you’re trying to connect with the right people and you need to know where they’re working or to simply understand employee working rhythms you can now view your team’s individual schedules to help you plan.

Top 3 benefits

  • Easily collaborate at the right time by coordinating schedules
  • Improved employee performance by allowing them to choose where and when they work best
  • Make better plans ahead of time by understanding employee habits and space utilization

Available for free to everyone who uses Kadence. Personal Kadence provides valuable insights into time and location work preferences so you can facilitate your team’s best work.

Get started in 6 easy steps: 

Kadence Hybrid Operating System Onboarding 1. Set up your profile 

New enhanced profiles guide users through a simple sequence of pages, allowing them to add their bio, city, time zone, and workspace preferences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Plot your Kadence 

From here you can also plot your weekly Kadence to inform your colleagues where you’ll be working.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Find a colleague

When you’re planning on connecting with someone in your team to collaborate on a project, simply go to the ‘Teams’ tab on your app, select the correct team and find your colleague to view their profile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. View team member profiles

Here you can see your colleagues’ workplace preferences, their bookings, and their weekly Kadence helping you know where they’ll be and when. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Connect at the right time and place – make a booking! 

Now you know where your colleague is working, and when, you can plan to go into the office at the same time to collaborate. Go to the booking screen and select the time and day your colleague is in the office. After choosing your amenities simply find where they are on the interactive floor plan and book a space nearby – check out our Desk booking and Room scheduling solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Set a weekly rhythm

Knowing how easy it is to find where and when your teammates are working, you can establish a weekly Kadence by aligning your Kadence with theirs. You can even repeat bookings for specific times and days saving you time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Kadence is available for free for all existing customers – check out our people coordination features to learn how Kadence helps bring your teams together to collaborate.

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.

The five gears model and hybrid working

The pre-pandemic office was a one size fits all setup. From head-down, focused work to a team brainstorming session, people came in every day, no matter what type of work they were doing. The hybrid revolution has changed all that. For many of us, the working week is now flexible. We can choose where and how we work. We don’t need to be in the same place all week to be productive. In fact, for some types of work, we can be more productive away from the office.

Recognizing different work modes

Understanding your different work modes and how you can maximize their potential will help you get the most out of hybrid. Untethered from the office, you have the freedom to optimize your working day by choosing where you work. If you need peace and quiet, you can work at home. If you need to connect with others, come into the office. But to get the most out of this freedom, you need to have a more nuanced understanding of how you work – enter the Five Gears model.

The Five Gears model

Five Gears model is a powerful and practical framework that defines the five core work modes – or gears – people employ at work. Understanding the model helps leaders and employees maximize their influence and productivity.

Work requires different gears at different times. Think of a classic stick shift car. If you try to start your car in fifth gear, it won’t work. If you stick it in first gear on the motorway, you won’t get far. The model teaches us how to choose the right gear at the right time

Fifth gear is described as focus mode. You’re in the zone and at maximum productivity. You look down, it’s 3pm and you think: “I’ve totally crushed it today”. It’s intense, and not usually sustainable day in, day out. Fourth gear is what people traditionally think of as a day’s work. You’re very busy, multitasking with lots going on. In and out of meetings. You’re working hard, but you can often get to the end of the day and you’ve still got a long to-do list. It’s a productivity gear, but you’re often in reactive mode.

Third gear is a social mode. It’s a place where you’re engaging with people. Meeting people, going for drinks after work, socializing. It’s that all-important ability to make conversation and connect with people on a personal level. When you’re in third, it can go two ways. Sometimes you shift up to fourth and the conversation turns to work. Other times, you shift down to second gear, or connect mode.

Second gear is a non-work mode. It’s about relational depth. It’s where you’re emotionally present with the people that you do work with. It’s where you open up with a colleague about your personal life. It’s the place where you connect on an honest and authentic level.

First gear is another non-work gear. It’s recharge mode. You’re unplugged, relaxing and recharging your batteries, on a physical, emotional, and intellectual level. It could be hanging out with friends and family, going for a walk, or reading a book. The model also includes one final gear – reverse.

The Five Gears and the hybrid workplace

When it comes to the hybrid workplace, companies are working out what role their offices will play in this new world. The Five Gears provide the perfect model to frame the conversation.
In the old days, a lot of employees came into the office to work in fifth gear. Head down, in your cubicle, getting on. The pandemic showed us that people can do fifth gear remotely with a reasonable home office setup. Nobody noticed a difference.

In that sense, fifth gear is unlikely to be the gear of the workplace in the future. You’re not going to commute 1.5 hours to an office to sit and work in fifth gear. Instead, people will come into the office to work in gears four, three, and two. Multitasking, meetings, and work that involves connecting with others.

Redesigning the workplace for hybrid working

No longer a one-size-fits-all, the modern office needs to specialize in facilitating the gears people want to employ when they’re there. That means less space for focused work and more space that facilitates collaboration and connection – informal meeting spaces or socialization areas. Workplace technology that helps employees sync their schedules with colleagues. Employees need to be enticed back to the office with a workspace that’s designed to help them get the most out of their time. Rows of desks, or (dare we say it) cubicles, just won’t cut the mustard anymore.

The Human-Centric Workplace

Before we discuss what a human-centric workplace is, we must define what it is to be human. From poets, philosophers, anthropologists, religious bodies, scientists, politicians, and artists. Despite the efforts, the answers are diverse and inconclusive, because believing in a single answer would create silos between the brain, emotion, the body and so forth; we must consider the many angles that make up the whole human.

What does it mean to be a human at work?

Aristotle claimed that to be human meant having a goal, a purpose, to belong, to live a happy life. Karl Marx believed that humans are social creatures and can therefore only develop with a society. Anthropologist, Clifford Geertz, refers to human nature as unfinished because we require culture to complete us, and therefore it is through the interactions between individuals and their settings, between the natural and social worlds, the symbols and structures determine what it means to be human.

In the early days of our 300,000-year human evolution, work was simple: we worked to eat and avoid being eaten. Meaning and purpose came from elsewhere, whether it be spirituality, art, religion or science. As humankind has evolved, our identities, such as parent, friend, nationality, religious beliefs, hobbies, and our careers have become intertwined.

Work is no longer about survival; work has become an extension of our identity. Social connectedness, culture, belonging, purpose, the ability to think – these are not things that simply stop when somebody is working. Neither does our lifestyle, our responsibilities, worries, fears or anxieties. Yet somehow, we have been hooked into believing that when at work, we must dimmish such humanity and appear robotic.

People are not just cogs in your organization’s machine, merely existing to drive your organization’s financial success. People do not want to be managed, controlled, and worn down. The employee experience has evolved and continues to do so.

Despite the initial panic following the mass exodus out of the workplace, thanks to the hard work of the workplace ninjas, technology, conscious leadership and a ton of resilience, the world is functioning; the impossible became workable. Hybrid working is the talk of the town, not many would argue against work not being somewhere we go but what we do and why we do it.

There is still space in your employee experience for the physical workplace, and its important space that needs to be used to drive connectedness, collaboration and belonging. We have been presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine work and the workplace.

Understanding the ‘why’ of your workplace

Let’s drop all the labels, the core at all of this is flexible working practices, agile mindsets, ABW environments utilising smart technology. This isn’t about a free for all or looking at what your competitors do….or what’s being said on LinkedIn. We must understand the why of your workplace – what role does the physical workplace play in enabling the organizational purpose and for people to thrive?

We must capture granular-level detail to really understand the why of the workplace and the why and how of our people, before prescribing the where. A place where people thrive is a place where people know and connect with the purpose, are enabled to treated like human. The Human-Centric Workplace is about highlighting that we can do better, and we must do better.

Keen to find out how to build a better working experience for your people? Join the discussion with Simone in the upcoming webinar!