Remote vs. Hybrid Work: Why Hybrid Emerges Superior

Many companies and employees have seen the benefits of working from home. Since the pandemic, many businesses now offer employees the chance to work remotely or with a hybrid combination of some days in office and some days at home. Both remote and hybrid work present unique benefits and challenges. Choosing the right one can significantly impact productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall organizational success.

In this article, we will explore the differences between remote and hybrid work, weighing the pros and cons of each. Ultimately, we’ll demonstrate why hybrid work stands out as the superior model.

Understanding Remote Work

Remote work allows employees to work from any location, typically their homes. This model has gained immense popularity due to advancements in technology, making it easier to collaborate and communicate virtually.

Benefits of Remote Work

  • Flexibility and Autonomy: Remote work offers unparalleled flexibility. Employees can create schedules that align with their personal lives, enhancing work-life balance and job satisfaction.

  • Cost Savings: Both employees and employers benefit financially. Employees save on commuting costs and time, while employers can reduce expenses related to office space and utilities.

  • Access to a Global Talent Pool: Companies are not limited by geography when hiring. They can tap into a diverse pool of talent from around the world, fostering innovation and diverse perspectives.

  • Environmental Benefits: Reduced commuting leads to lower carbon emissions, contributing to environmental sustainability.

Drawbacks of Remote Work:

  • Isolation and Loneliness: Working remotely can lead to feelings of isolation. The lack of face-to-face interactions can make employees feel disconnected from their colleagues and the company culture.

  • Communication Challenges: Without in-person interactions, communication can suffer. Misunderstandings and delays in information sharing are more likely.

  • Work-Life Boundaries: The line between work and personal life can blur, leading to overwork and burnout. It’s challenging to switch off from work when your home is your office.

  • Limited Access to Resources: Not all employees have a conducive work environment at home. Issues such as inadequate internet connection, lack of proper office equipment, and household distractions can hinder productivity.
Understanding Hybrid Work

Hybrid work combines the benefits of remote work with the advantages of in-office work. Employees have the flexibility to work from home on some days and come into the office on others. This model aims to offer the best of both worlds.

Benefits of Hybrid Work:

  • Balanced Flexibility: Hybrid work provides a mix of flexibility and structure. Employees can enjoy the convenience of remote work while benefiting from regular in-person interactions.

  • Enhanced Collaboration: In-office days facilitate better communication and collaboration. Teams can brainstorm, solve problems, and build relationships more effectively face-to-face.

  • Improved Employee Well-being: The combination of remote and office work can mitigate feelings of isolation while still offering the flexibility employees value. This balance can enhance overall well-being and job satisfaction.

  • Efficient Resource Use: Hybrid work allows for more efficient use of office space. Companies can downsize their physical offices, reducing overhead costs while still providing a collaborative environment.

Drawbacks of Hybrid Work:

  • Complex Scheduling: Coordinating in-office days can be challenging. Ensuring that the right team members are present simultaneously requires careful planning and can be logistically complex.

  • Potential Inequities: Hybrid work can create disparities among employees. Those who can come to the office more frequently might have better access to opportunities and resources, leading to potential resentment and inequality.

  • Transition Challenges: Shifting to a hybrid model requires a change in organizational culture and processes. Companies need to invest in technology and training to ensure a smooth transition.
The Solution is Kadence

Many of the possible negatives of working hybrid can easily be solved through Kadence. Kadence’s desk booking software makes hybrid easy.

Scheduling does not need to be complex. Booking desks in the office can be completed in a few simple clicks. Kadence’s Smart Suggestions can tell you when your colleagues are coming into the office, so you can book a desk nearby. Managers can set team days where neighborhoods reserve space for team members coming into the office.

With insight and overview of when your teammates are coming into the office, the risk of potential inequalities is mitigated. Employees don’t have to fear missing out if they choose to work from home.

And with Kadence’s simple onboarding process, teams will know how to use Kadence quickly and efficiently. The transition to a seamless hybrid work model can be easy and painless for your company.

Comparing Hybrid and Remote Work

Productivity and Performance

Remote Work: Productivity can increase due to fewer distractions and personalized work environments. However, this heavily depends on individual discipline and effective self-management.

Hybrid Work: The blend of environments can lead to a well-rounded approach to productivity, with structured office days boosting team performance and remote days supporting individual focus.

Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Remote Work: While remote work can offer higher satisfaction due to flexibility, it might reduce engagement without regular social interactions.

Hybrid Work: Hybrid work can strike a balance, fostering engagement through periodic in-person interactions while maintaining the flexibility that employees value.

Organizational Culture

Remote Work: Building and maintaining a cohesive company culture remotely can be challenging. Virtual team-building activities and regular communication are essential.

Hybrid Work: In-office days can help reinforce the company culture, allowing for organic interactions and stronger relationships.

Cost Implications

Remote Work: Significant savings on office-related expenses, but may require investment in remote working tools and employee stipends for home office setups.

Hybrid Work: Potential for optimized office space usage, with reduced costs for maintaining a physical office and supporting remote work infrastructure.

Insights allows Office Managers see how space is being used.
See how office is being utilized through data driven insights
Why Hybrid Work is Superior

Hybrid work stands out as the superior model for several reasons:

Optimal Balance: Hybrid work offers the best of both worlds, combining the flexibility of remote work with the benefits of in-person collaboration. This balance can lead to higher productivity, better employee engagement, and a stronger organizational culture.

Enhanced Collaboration: Regular in-office days facilitate face-to-face interactions, which are crucial for effective communication, brainstorming, and problem-solving. These interactions can lead to more innovative solutions and stronger team cohesion.

Improved Well-being: The combination of remote and office work can help mitigate the isolation and loneliness often associated with remote work. Employees can enjoy the flexibility of working from home while still benefiting from social interactions with colleagues.

Resource Efficiency: Hybrid work allows for more efficient use of office space and resources. Companies can reduce their physical office footprint, leading to cost savings, while still providing a collaborative environment for employees.

Adaptability: Hybrid work is inherently adaptable. It allows companies to respond more flexibly to changes in the business environment, whether due to a global pandemic, economic shifts, or other unforeseen events. This adaptability can be a significant competitive advantage.

Practical Solutions for Implementing Hybrid Work

To maximize the benefits of hybrid work and address its challenges, consider the following strategies:

Develop Clear Policies: Define expectations and guidelines for in-office and remote work days. Ensure transparency and fairness in scheduling by using Kadence.

Promote Equity: Ensure equal access to opportunities and resources for all employees, regardless of their work location. Address any disparities that may arise. Offer access to co-working spaces that can be used by employees located outside of the local office area. Kadence Flex gives companies access to hundreds of co-working spaces globally.

A Kadence Flex illustration of a map with various office and co-working hub locations that enables you to see where your teammates are working,
Join your team wherever they’re working with Kadence Flex

Encourage Flexibility: Allow employees to adjust their schedules as needed, recognizing the diverse needs and preferences within the workforce. Trust your employees to manage their time effectively.

Foster a Strong Culture: Use in-office days to reinforce company culture. Organize team-building activities and encourage social interactions. Ensure remote employees feel included and valued through regular communication and virtual events.

Hybrid work stands out as the superior choice. It provides the flexibility and autonomy of remote work while enhancing collaboration, engagement, and well-being through regular in-person interactions. By adopting a hybrid work model, organizations can create a balanced, productive, and supportive work environment that empowers employees to thrive in the evolving landscape of work.

Book a demo to find out how Kadence can help you and your company find your rhythm for hybrid work.


How to Cultivate a Company Culture with Tonille Miller

In today’s competitive landscape, attracting, retaining, and unlocking top talent has become a top priority for organizations. With the emergence of hybrid work reshaping the very fabric of organizational dynamics, it’s more important than ever to create a generative company culture that enables people to do their best work in this new environment. But how do you get started?

What Do We Mean By Culture?

Culture will absolutely make or break an organization in the form of profitability, productivity, engagement, agility, collaboration, innovation, customer satisfaction, burnout, turnover, and healthcare costs. With data showing organizations that focus on their culture see significant increases in revenue growth (4.1x), stock price growth (827%), net income (756%), sales per employee (13%), and ROI (15x), the business case is compelling to say the least.

While some mistakenly believe company culture is “Taco Tuesdays” or foosball tables, on the contrary, culture doesn’t require being co-located. Culture is the lifestyle of the organization; it governs how people mingle, hustle, and behave – whether they’re in the office, at home, or sending emails from the subway. I would argue that you can actually build a stronger, more inclusive, and effective company culture for distributed teams because it forces you to be intentional, embedding it into everything you do, rather than just letting it develop organically based on the lowest common denominator that shows up in the office that day.

Key Strategies to Create Culture

Here are a few strategies for creating a company culture that enables your people and the business to thrive in a flexible environment:

1. Purposeful Gatherings

As organizations embrace hybrid work and flexible arrangements, the purpose of the office has shifted from the central hub for work activities to a place where teams come together to solve problems, collaborate, and build relationships that transcend virtual boundaries.

  • Make the office a high-profile destination: Facilitate meaningful interactions, experiential events, and access to leaders and high-performers.

  • Make it count: Bring people together for a specific, focused goal, such as a project kick-off, brainstorming session, or team-building activity.

  • Intentionally bring people together for connection: Annie Dean and the team at Atlassian have conducted a ton of research and experiments on this topic and developed a playbook called 1000 Days of Remote Work. In it, the data show zero correlation between people physically being in the office and team connection. They did find, however, that intentionally bringing teams together around 3 times a year to intentionally build connection leads to an average 27% increase in feelings of connection, and this boost lasts 4 to 5 months.
2. Create Belonging

Alright, let’s spill the tea on connection and belonging. Forget about just plopping people in the same office and expecting magic to happen because the data doesn’t support it. Even pre-pandemic, Harvard Business Review found, a whopping 65% of folks grinding away in offices full-time felt like they were stranded on a deserted island when it came to connection. But fear not, here are some fab ways to whip up a sense of connection and belonging as part of your company culture:

  • Digital Platforms: Leverage digital platforms that offer peer mentoring and manager coaching to aid in building team connections and trust.

  • Communities: Create communities such as employee resource groups (ERGs) and topical Slack channels to create a sense of belonging, ownership, and purpose.

  • Shared experiences, challenges, and purpose:
    • Create shared experiences by hosting virtual guest speakers and musical artists, or have the team listen to a podcast, read a book, or try a recipe, and then discuss it together.
    • Build interdependence, meaning, and empathy across teams by connecting the dots for them so they can see how their role/tasks impact others across the organization and broader ecosystem. One of my clients did this by rotating people from customer success and sales teams every three or six months to shed light on how the upfront promises the sales made to customers impacted customer success downstream.
3. Upskill Leaders

Stepping into the realm of flexible work environments demands a fresh perspective and some revamped habits. But fear not, because the very skills needed to steer distributed teams are the ones that make managers rock stars at handling Millennials and Gen Zers more broadly. Here are a few boss-level strategies to nail leadership in flexible work settings:

  • Embrace Digital Fluency and Asynchronous Tools: Mastering collaboration, communication, and project management tools is crucial; consider a Millennial or Gen Z reverse mentor for rapid skill development and better organizational awareness. They may even help you with your TikTok skills. 😉

  • Clarity and Transparency: Communicate clear goals, deadlines, and performance expectations to team members. Team-level agreements are a great way to start.

  • Trust, Autonomy, and Accountability: Give teams the flexibility to manage their time effectively. Leaders who empower their employees with autonomy and accountability see a virtuous cycle of trust, performance, and ownership.
4. Ensure Development Remains a Priority

While some leaders believe it’s more difficult to develop employees remotely, in reality, flexible work can democratize and expand developmental opportunities. Here are some effective strategies to develop employees when working distributed:

  • Virtual Apprenticeship: Encourage senior employees to copy junior staff on emails and add them to Slack channels, calls, and Zoom meetings, which provide them with opportunities to observe and learn.

  • Learning in the Flow of Work: Real-time coaching and feedback from managers and peers is a highly productive and cost-effective approach that promotes immediate knowledge application.

  • Internal marketplaces: Mastercard has taken a distributed-first, people-centric approach to talent development with the launch of its internal talent marketplace powered by Gloat. By redeploying people where their skills were needed internally, Mastercard avoided laying off any employees during the pandemic and saved them from outsourcing projects to contractors. With the platform’s ability to connect employees across geographies and business units, it also fosters collaboration while democratizing access and opportunities for developing their careers within the organization.
5. Ensure Equity

Equitable experiences for all employees, regardless of location is crucial. A gap between the experience of on-site and remote workers can lead to feelings of inequality and resentment.

To avoid this, companies can analyze promotion trends to identify any favoritism toward employees who spend more time in person with managers and supervisors.  Additionally, every policy, technology platform, and meeting practice should be assessed through the lens of on-site, hybrid, and remote employees to ensure a seamless and equitable experience for everyone.

6. Design the Work Around Outcomes and Impact

Organizations should intentionally design their work environments around the desired outcomes and value they seek to create. To optimize team results, leaders need to ask themselves, “What does the work actually require?” They can start by establishing clear objectives, setting expectations for the work, and communicating the reasoning behind them.

To implement this in your organization, set organization-wide objectives and key results (OKRs). Let each team decide how they want to meet those goals and enable team members to do the work when and where they choose. Rather than track hours logged, track performance outcomes and impact.

7. Balance Flexibility and Structure

Top talent seeks a balance between flexibility and structure that allows them to do their best work while accommodating their individual needs and preferences. One of the top complaints from employees returning to offices is that they made the commute just to spend their day on Zoom calls with people in other locations. There are plenty of new software platforms and apps that eliminate the uncertainty of who will be in the office and how to access them, making it easier to coordinate with colleagues and maximize time together.

The folks at Kadence have recognized this shift and are pioneering solutions that help organizations strike the delicate balance between flexibility and structure. Colleagues can align their plans and connect with internal communities and events, creating new opportunities for hybrid teams to schedule real-life interactions. Seamless scheduling software enables employees to see who will be in the office, thus making it easy to make plans and coordinate effectively.

Final Thoughts

As your organization navigates our new normal, embracing flexibility and unprecedented change, there’s one crucial element you can’t afford to overlook: the heartbeat of your organization must be strong. Cultivating a company culture that enables your people to thrive will unleash potential, innovation, and resilience in the face of uncertainty.


With over 15 years of experience as a management consultant, I/O psychologist, and executive coach, Tonille is the founder of EXT – Experience and Transformation, a boutique consulting firm that helps leaders and organizations thrive in the new world of work. She specializes in change management, digital transformation, employee engagement & retention, culture, behavior change, strategic communications, business transformation, hybrid work, AI adoption, employee experience, leadership development, and organizational effectiveness.

Her new book, The Flourishing Effect: Unlocking Employee Thriving as Your Competitive Edge, provides a playbook for leaders and change-makers to create the conditions that engage their people and unlock high performance in this new world.

Exploring the Future of Work: Understanding Hybrid Remote Work

Welcome to a new era of work. Traditional notions of where and how work gets done have been redefined. But what is hybrid remote work? This new terminology has become commonplace. It’s now an integral part of both how companies choose to operate and the attraction of jobs to employees.

In this article, we delve into what hybrid remote work entails, its benefits, challenges, and how individuals and businesses can navigate this new paradigm.

What is Hybrid Remote Work?

Organized Hybrid work represents a flexible approach to work. It combines elements of remote work with in-person office attendance. It allows employees to enjoy the best of both worlds.

There is the freedom and autonomy of remote work and the collaboration and connection that come with being in the office. It’s about striking a balance between the convenience of working from home and the advantages of face-to-face interaction.

The Rise of Hybrid Remote Work

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for the widespread adoption of remote work. As organizations scrambled to adapt to lockdowns and social distancing measures, remote work became the norm virtually overnight.

However, as restrictions eased and businesses began to reopen, many companies found themselves grappling with the question of how to move forward. Enter hybrid remote work.

For some, the transition to remote work was seamless, highlighting the potential for increased productivity, cost savings, and improved work-life balance. However, others found themselves missing the social aspect of the office and struggling to maintain a sense of connection with their colleagues. Hybrid work emerged as a compromise, allowing employees to enjoy the flexibility of remote work, while still facilitating in-person collaboration when needed.

Use Kadence to book nearby Adam who is sitting at Desk 2 on Wednesday
Benefits of Hybrid Remote Work

One of the key benefits of hybrid working is its flexibility. By allowing employees to choose where they work, businesses can attract top talent from around the globe and accommodate diverse lifestyles and preferences. This flexibility also extends to work hours, enabling individuals to structure their day in a way that maximizes productivity and well-being.

Hybrid remote work can lead to cost savings for both employees and employers. With reduced commuting expenses and overhead costs associated with maintaining office space, individuals can enjoy greater financial freedom. Businesses can reallocate resources towards more strategic initiatives, such as employee development and innovation. And even more, all of this has a positive contribution to reducing a company’s carbon footprint.

This approach also has the potential to foster a more inclusive and diverse workforce. By removing geographical barriers to employment, organizations can tap into talent pools that were previously inaccessible. Remote work arrangements can accommodate individuals with disabilities or caregiving responsibilities, opening up opportunities for greater participation in the workforce.

Challenges of Hybrid Remote Work

Despite its numerous benefits, hybrid work also presents its fair share of challenges. One of the most significant concerns is maintaining a sense of company culture and cohesion. With employees working from various locations, fostering a strong sense of belonging and connection can be more challenging. Organizations must invest in strategies to facilitate communication, collaboration, and team bonding in a virtual environment.

Much of this can be solved by having in place an operations system that can organize calendars and desk booking. Employees can book time in the office when they need and share when they’re working remotely.

Managing performance and productivity in a hybrid remote work setting requires a shift in mindset and approach. Traditional metrics of success, such as time spent in the office, may no longer be relevant. Instead, organizations need to focus on outcomes and results, measuring performance based on deliverables rather than hours worked.

See which day Willa, Michael, and Jane are in the office and book nearby on the Kadence mobile app
Navigating the Future of Work

As we navigate the complexities, it’s essential to approach this new opportunity with intentionality and adaptability. For individuals, this may involve honing skills such as time management, communication, and self-discipline to thrive in a remote environment. It’s also crucial to prioritize work-life balance and establish boundaries between work and personal life.

For businesses, embracing hybrid work requires a strategic approach to leadership, culture, and technology. Leaders must cultivate a culture of trust, accountability, and flexibility, empowering employees to take ownership of their work and outcomes. Investing in technology and infrastructure that supports remote collaboration and communication is also critical for success.

Consider Kadence

Kadence is the software that can help you and your team find your rhythm of work. The key to successful hybrid work is a software that helps you manage and adopt an organized hybrid model.

Our Smart Suggestions feature recommends when to head into the office. Teammates can easily find time to collaborate together, and even choose a desk next to each other.

With Kadence Flex, you can book desks at a number of available co-working spaces across the globe. This is helpful if you have a distributed workforce who may not be located near offices.

Using our Insights feature, Kadence gives you a detailed guide of how your team use the offices available to them. Reports will tell you what spaces are being wasted so you can save on real estate costs.

Kadence seamlessly integrates with your existing technology tools. You can use Kadence in Slack, Teams and more without disrupting your workflow. Communication is made easy.

Together, we can build a future of work that is both fulfilling and sustainable for all. By embracing flexibility, autonomy, and inclusivity, organizations can harness the full potential of hybrid remote work. Drive innovation, productivity, and employee satisfaction by remaining agile, empathetic, and open to experimentation. This is the future of work.

Book a demo today.


Who Should Own Working Hybrid at Your Company? The Pros and Cons of Each

Earlier this week, we ran a LinkedIn poll. The question was simple: who is running Working Hybrid in your company?

Results started pouring in CEO, Facility Manager, Head of People, and IT department — they were all in the mix. Yet not one of them was poking their head out as a clear winner.

This alone is a compelling insight. As strong as the momentum currently is towards hybrid ways of working, it seems there’s still a collective uncertainty around who exactly is meant to own the process of implementing and overseeing the ins and outs of hybrid work.

Let’s look at who the candidates are — and why they are in a prime position to take on the challenge of helping their company transition to Working Hybrid.

The CEO

The CEO is our first candidate – and perhaps the most obvious.

Hybrid work presents a fundamental alteration of how a company sees itself, its people, and its space — and such a profound change needs to be met at the top executive level.

Furthermore, the transition to hybrid has implications for so much of a company’s operational framework — from its use and management of real estate to its work culture and operating software — that it requires someone with an extensive knowledge base and skill set to properly oversee it.

The CEO is the person ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a business, and you could argue that it is therefore their job to oversee the implementation of hybrid work.

Pros:

  • Great to have top-level ownership of a core business strategy
  • Wide skill set and knowledge to manage all facets of implementation

Cons:

  • Risks of getting bogged down in the day-to-day
  • Less “people-focused” and more “business-focused”

The COO

Next up is the COO. The person whose job it is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization — and someone who could be instrumental in the successful implementation of hybrid work.

The transition to hybrid work represents a complete shift in an organization’s management of its resources — the chief of which is its people and spaces.

The office has become a tool for work, rather than a platform, and the main platform has now become time.

Negotiating this conceptual shift is something that the COO would be more than capable of handling. With their strong communication skills, connection to all department heads, and intimate knowledge of large and smaller-scale work processes, the COO would be a top candidate for helping implement the right tool for hybrid work and overseeing its effective use.

Pros:

  • Deeply aligned with the day-to-day operations of the company
  • Can ensure that processes and systems are in place to support remote work and in-person collaboration

Cons:

  • May not have a comprehensive understanding of the needs of individuals, or technical challenges
  • May not have the skill set to manage all facets of implementation

The CTO/Tech Lead

I know what you’re thinking. What does technology have to do with such an operational question?

Hear us out. Hybrid work doesn’t just represent a change in a workplace’s physical routines and rituals. The proper implementation of hybrid work involves installing software that assists you on every step of your hybrid journey — from desk booking and room booking to smart scheduling and team coordination.

Such an installation could be daunting — especially if handled by the wrong person.

That’s where the CTO comes in. With their technical expertise, the tech lead of a company could ensure that their chosen hybrid software works seamlessly alongside the rest of a company’s technical catalog — whether it be integrating with Microsoft Teams, Slack, or any number of digital tools.

Pros:

  • Best placed to manage hybrid software and integrations

Cons:

  • Detached from the operational / people-focused reality of hybrid work
  • Distracts from product-related technical issues

The Facility Manager

Another figure who could be crucial to a company’s hybrid transition is the Facility / Office Manager.

The Facility Manager is the person responsible for ensuring an organization’s physical spaces are configured to support the workforce.

In the era of hybrid work, this responsibility is particularly important. With a workforce fluctuating between remote and in-person work, the office has developed a whole new identity: a flexible, malleable hub that caters to the complex schedules of its residents.

Such an office needs to be carefully designed, and even more carefully managed. It should feel like a destination workplace, with a biophilic design and carefully placed office neighborhoods. It should also be set up to prioritize energy conservation — with thoughtful consideration for low-use zones and a plan to raise the office’s overall energy efficiency.

The Facility Manager is perfectly placed to mark out the office as a place for productivity and fulfillment in a company’s new hybrid work model.

Pros:

  • Familiar with the physical workspace and can ensure it is configured to support fluctuating workforce

Cons:

  • Not so in tune with higher level functions of hybrid work — from a financial/operational perspective
  • Wouldn’t be best placed to manage hybrid work software and its introduction

The Head of People

Call this person what you will — Head of HR, Chief People Officer, Chief of Staff — they are another clear candidate for managing and owning the transition to hybrid.

Hybrid work is fundamentally about people (just read the manifesto!). It’s about ensuring that each individual in the company feels supported in their own unique way — so that they can flourish in whatever working environment suits them best.

Enter HR. With such a strong connection to people — and their satisfaction in work and beyond — it feels like a no-brainer that they should somehow be involved when it comes to overseeing a change that affects every single person in the company.

HR representatives could ensure employees are set up to be just as effective from their homes, oversee the complexities of their working requirements, and provide adequate onboarding and training to employees who are less familiar with the processes of hybrid work.

Pros:

  • Deeply aligned with the needs of employees
  • Can provide much-needed training and support

Cons:

  • Less focused on the management of the physical workspace
  • Not a stakeholder in the financial implications of working hybrid, or technical requirements for software

The Chief Hybrid Officer

The Chief Hybrid Officer is a new role that companies are turning to in their attempt to give justice to the complex challenge presented by the transition to working hybrid.

As you’ve hopefully now seen — the person tasked with implementing hybrid work needs to have an exceptional skill set, ranging from solid business acumen and operational nous to the ability to manage a physical workspace and digital software.

Such a wide-ranging assignment could well be handled by an existing employee — but it would seriously risk distracting them from their core work. Furthermore, it could mean under-delivering on the potential of a well-implemented hybrid system.

The Chief Hybrid Officer would own this process from start to finish. Their goal would be to maximize the impact of the hybrid work model, from championing employee well-being and satisfaction to cutting down real estate costs and helping a company’s ESG mission.

Pros:

  • Holistic approach to the hybrid transition
  • Full ownership of all relevant areas, including implications

Cons:

  • Difficult to hire for the position
  • Smaller companies may struggle to justify the role

The responsibility for implementing and managing hybrid work in an organization can fall to a variety of roles — from the CTO to the Chief of Staff.

Yet there’s no right answer. Every organization is different, and every team has its specific circumstances and requirements for transitioning to a new way of working.

When deciding upon whom the responsibility falls to implement hybrid work, we recommend assessing your company on several different fronts:

  • Your company’s size and capacity for a new executive role
  • The relative financial impact hybrid work could have on you
  • The importance of environmental impact and optimization to your company
  • The day-to-day capacity of C-level executives for a sizeable new project

Our mission at Kadence is to help companies navigate this complex world. Whether it’s giving advice on the proper way to educate your employees about hybrid work, or helping implement software that will act as your guiding light in the transition — we’d love to be part of your journey.

How Hybrid Work Can Solve the Loneliness Crisis

Our society has a loneliness crisis.

Since 2019, the amount of time Americans spend alone has more than doubled.

Working from home every day of the week – with all its great benefits for flexibility and work-life balance – seems to have come at a serious cost.

In this article, we’ll explore why hybrid work plays a vital role in the loneliness crisis — and how transitioning to Hybrid could massively impact the mental health of your employees, and the success of your business as a whole.

The inconvenient truth of fully remote work

Remote work has sky rocketed.

It’s the allure of excellent work-life balance, flexibility, and a tailor made office set up that mean as many as 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025.

But this way of working comes with its own set of challenges – inconvenient truths that seem to fly under the radar in modern “remote empowerment” narratives.

Most notable of these challenges is loneliness.

Source: American Time Use Survey

A recent survey discovered that the number of hours spent alone in a week had doubled since before the pandemic. Another study revealed that full-time remote work was found to increase loneliness by 67% when compared to in-person work.

The knock on effects of loneliness on mental health are well documented. Insomnia, stress, anxiety and a whole host of other physical and mental conditions are commonly linked to spending too much time alone.

In their search for the perfect work-life balance, employees are unknowingly putting themselves at risk of deteriorating mental health. This, in turn, impacts businesses’ bottom line – their employees are less happy, less engaged and less productive.

So what do we do? How do we find our way out of this loneliness crisis?

Hybrid work and community building

Hybrid work — the system of combining both remote and in-person work — is becoming an increasingly popular system for companies looking to create a sustainable future for themselves and their employees.

The reason Hybrid is so popular is that it plays to the strengths of both remote and in-person work.

The way a company does Hybrid lays the foundations for a company’s entire sense of self — its implicit support of every employee’s unique working needs, but also a strong focus on community building.

Remote working

As humans, we have certain needs that are rooted deep within us. Developing real connections with other humans is one of them — and research has shown just how fundamental to our mental health it is.

Communities are powerful things. They forge relationships, act as strong sources of support and validation, and strengthen bonds between coworkers.

But community building is significantly more difficult when everything is done online. Left to their own digital work silos, remote workers will speak to fewer colleagues, less often, for less time. Their autonomy comes at the expense of real relationships.

The thing is — community and autonomy are interdependent. Knowing who we are in a community is at the core of knowing who we are as an individual. Communities give us purpose, and a sense of personhood.

This is important information for companies managing the transition to hybrid. Any decision to enforce more in-person work will likely encounter resistance — on the face of it, your employees may see it as an attempt to strip them of their much-valued autonomy.

That’s where you need to be crystal clear with your message: a small sacrifice of independence is essential to building a healthy community of individuals in the long term.

Meaningful collaboration above individual burnout

Recently, in our Hybrid Manifesto, we laid out the three core benefits of Hybrid work. One of these is meaningful collaboration.

That means that — when Hybrid workers come into the office — it’s not just to forge relationships and be part of a community. It’s to collaborate with colleagues and produce results together.

In-person collaboration has some key advantages over online collaboration:

  • Trust is built quicker in person
  • Productively challenging your coworkers is easier
  • People are much more focused (we all get Zoom fatigue)

Ultimately, the collaboration that ensues from in-person work can be much more effective than online work — both in terms of the output produced and the insights that are reached.

Just as importantly, this kind of collaboration is also a major contributor to employee satisfaction and flourishing.

Connecting with your colleagues is one thing — but when connections yield real results, the power of human connection comes through stronger than ever.

The more we see companies transition to Hybrid work, the less we’ll see the negative effects of loneliness on our workers and society.

A Hybrid future is a healthy future!

Parting thoughts

In many ways, the struggles we face as modern professionals can be viewed as a series of contradictions:

  • We want independence, but we also need social validation and praise.
  • We want flexibility, but we also need some kind of structure or framework.
  • We want to feel fulfilled professionally, but also personally.

Hybrid work exists to give sense to these contradictions. The truth is — we don’t need to pick one over the other!

Implementing Hybrid work properly will enable your employees to find the right balance in each of those three areas — and subsequently bring huge benefits to the productivity and success of your business.

How flexibility makes for better productivity

At Kadence we believe that flexibility is key to helping teams be the most productive in their work, yet the word ‘productivity’ means something different to everyone, as everyone has different needs. What helps one person be productive might not be helpful to others. In a nutshell ‘managers are more likely to define productivity as outcomes, and individual contributors are more likely to define productivity as output’ (storey et al. 2021) highlighted in Microsoft’s ‘New Future of Work Report’. Understanding what makes individuals productive is one thing, but adding a curve ball to the mix brings flexibility and how this is increasingly becoming an all-round conduit for productivity. Read on to discover how flexibility is a big deal for getting things done.

 

Choosing how we best work together

Individual choice is fairly straightforward, however, once put into the context of a team, it creates a cocktail of scheduling and preference confusion. At Kadence, we believe people need tools that makes scheduling to connect with one another, either face-to-face or digitally the easiest thing in the world. Tools that empower them to become masters of flexible working, putting people in the driving seat to make the best decisions for themselves and each other.

Yes, trust and autonomy are important factors here, and ones not to ignore, but more vital to this concoction is understanding the needs of your employees, and what to provide for them. 

Choosing how we best work is always going to be uniquely different from one another, and being stubborn with what you as the individual feel is the best solution isn’t helpful. The trick here is to search for what works collectively, which also applies to the tools your teams use every day. 

For example, we discovered Kadence customers prefer to reserve meeting rooms through the calendar integrations with Google, and Outlook. For them, it makes sense to make bookings within the tools they already use. Surveys have shown that up to 56% of workers find switching between different apps keeps them from being productive,  and over 67% of people would like to have all of their tools within a single window. You see, it’s not just in the choosing of when, where, and with whom we prefer to work, but also in the choosing of how, and the best tools that serve those needs. With that in mind, it just made sense for us to provide the functionality to make that possible.

Room booking

Finding a rhythm that matches your intent

The pandemic reinforced the need for change, and with it came the swift dismantling of scheduling as the global workforce entertained a new, and better way of working. Although the vast majority welcomed the new change,  it became chaotic fairly fast. A tool was needed to help align fragmented schedules in order that important employee collaboration and in-person social interactions could happen. A tool that could both give your people the flexibility they needed yet meet the needs of the team all at once. Extreme individual scheduling will only cause peoples’ preferences and timetables to collide, whereas understanding your goals when you are together helping produce scheduling alignment that everyone buys into. It starts with a common goal.

Once a common goal has been decided, the next thing is to decide when as well as where you’ll meet as a team, and even how often. At Kadence, we call this ‘finding your rhythm for work’. We’ve discovered that regular touch points between team members digitally or in person are vital for productivity, belonging, and mental well-being. Discover more here about how Kadence’s personal and team schedule visibility tools help teams to remain in sync.

 

Harness spontaneity

Light bulb moments are crucial and are the moments we need to harness, gather the troops and get set to work on the practical out-workings that strum ideas into realities. With over 90% of bookings being created at the last moment, it’s clear that there is a need for accessible spaces in the moments when people need them. Unfortunately, this isn’t helpful for many facilities managers who’d prefer people to book ahead of time, but hey, why not embrace the spontaneity and those light bulb moments too? Enabling your people to connect in these moments using easy tools to know when everyone is available and help find the right spaces fast is a very practical solution. Microsoft writes in their New Future of Work Report that ‘Successful teams align work routines to communicate in bursts, interspersed with individual work’. 

Hybrid working

Making a plan in advance is just as advantageous to getting into the spaces you need and connecting with your colleagues, but the tool that shares team schedule and space availability in those all-important lightbulb moments are the tools that truly serve people.

“ 70% of employees stated that Kadene had helped them save time searching for a desk!” – PHSO

Conclusion

A one-size-fits-all tool to help companies be successful at hybrid simply does not work if you’re wanting to future-proof your company’s working culture. Hybrid looks different for everyone and a tool that molds around the needs of individuals just as well as the needs of the company, enabling them to make hybrid work in the way it works for them is the tool that will win. Planning ahead is powerful, and so is being flexible when plans change, and the right tool is the one that does both well. 

What makes your teams more productive?

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.

Younger workers fear loneliness from long-term home working

Research suggests younger workers are concerned about the lack of social connection in their jobs, as businesses consider how to enable people to do their best work.

 

San Francisco and London, 8 September 2021: New research from Kadence reveals that since working from home, Gen Z and Millenials feel disproportionately isolated, and say it is negatively impacting their ability to build and develop relationships at work – and potentially harming their career progress.

The survey of 2,000 US and UK office workers found that over two-thirds of workers aged 18 – 34 (67%) say since working from home, they’ve found it harder to make friends and maintain relationships with colleagues. Almost three quarters (71%) feel their work colleagues are more distant, and 54% even say that prolonged remote working has caused them to drift apart from workmates.

When asked how they would feel about continuing to work remotely on a full-time basis, this age group also expressed concerns about being lonely: 81% of younger workers say they would feel more isolated without time in the office, compared to 64% of those aged over 35. 

The older generations have noticed less of an impact on their work relationships over the past year. Almost a third of respondents aged over 35 say their ability to make friends or maintain relationships with colleagues has not changed since working remotely (31%).

The research from hybrid work specialist Kadence also found that continuing to work from home is likely to exacerbate the social disconnect for younger workers and negatively impact their productivity levels. One in seven (70%) fear they will miss out on opportunities to socialize if it becomes permanent, a situation which would result in them enjoying their job less (59%) and finding it harder to focus (63%).

Jonathan Taylor, Managing Psychologist at workplace psychology consultancy, Pearn Kandola, says:

“While it’s important not to stereotype based on age, older workers usually have more years of affirmation from colleagues they can draw upon in remote and hybrid settings, while younger, potentially less experienced workers are in many cases still building up a repository of ‘am I good enough?’.”

“It takes time to build up a sense of self-efficacy, and much of this comes from communication and feedback from others – this is not only what is said, but micro-behaviours too. Submitting a piece of work over email while working remotely and not hearing back is likely to have its impact.”

“Having control over your work is important for development, and so giving employers a degree of choice over remote or hybrid working is vital. As a manager, checking in with employees and being able to notice when team members are struggling should be a priority, regardless of your working setup.”

 

 

When asked about the benefits they’d look for in a new role, hybrid working was listed as a top priority for all workers, with more than a third (38%) seeking this type of set-up. Flexible working hours were also seen as crucial by 42% of all workers.

However, it’s clear that the social element is an important driver in productivity and happiness for Gen Z and Millennial workers. Over a quarter (29%) listed regular social and team building events as one of the most attractive employee benefits, alongside a good salary (44%), modern office environment (40%), wellbeing support (40%), and career growth and ongoing training opportunities (38%).

Meanwhile, for workers aged over 35 the social element is less of a contending factor when it comes to job appeal. This generation of workers look for a good salary (58%), generous holiday (51%), flexible working arrangements (50%) and an enhanced pension (43%).

Dan Bladen, CEO of Kadence adds:

“There’s no doubt that the pandemic has shaped the future of work; but more than this, it’s had a fundamental impact on the happiness and wellbeing of workers. While organizations have done their best to adapt, we’ve yet to experience the full consequences, particularly when it comes to the next generation of workers. 

“100% remote working might be convenient for some, but for others it’s a recipe for loneliness – and younger workers have been disproportionately affected. They’re missing out on the benefits of being surrounded by more experienced colleagues and the informal learning and mentoring that comes with this. What’s more, these younger workers are now quitting if they’re not happy.”

“Every employer’s top priority should be to create the best workplace experience they can for their teams. Ensuring that true hybrid working between home and office is enabled will empower workers of all ages, while ensuring that businesses recruit and retain the very best talent.” 

From FORTO to FOMO: How to combat fears of returning to the office

You’ve probably heard of FOMO. You’ll almost definitely have heard of LOL. But are you familiar with FORTO? FORTO stands for fear of returning to the office, and is a very 2021 acronym. As light-hearted as it sounds, it addresses a very real problem. back-to-office anxiety is something many workers are experiencing as they contemplate an end to mandatory remote working.

The Fear of Returning to the Office (FORTO)

They say it takes, on average, 66 days to form a habit – which means work-from-home habits are well and truly entrenched by now. Getting up late. Zoom calls. Sweatpants not chinos.

And habits are hard to break, hence why back-to-office anxiety is a thing. Researchers from MIT found that neuron activity in your brain changes as you form a habit, firing in clusters at the beginning and the end of the behavior. These new patterns help hardwire the behaviour and make it hard to change. Your brain has settled into a routine. If you’re forced to change that routine, it’s unsettling.

For people experiencing FORTO, it’s important to remember that it can be the process of change, rather than the end result, that feels overwhelming.

Struggles of remote working

Some of us took to working from home easily. No more commute. Home comforts. Lunch breaks in the garden. Time with the family. But for many – particularly younger workers – it’s been a struggle.

Being away from the office has been isolating. It has impacted career progression. It has made it harder to establish personal and professional relationships at work. And many workers (44% according to a recent survey of business professionals we carried out) report feeling like they’re “always on” and having a poor work/life balance. Frequent distractions, screen fatigue, and financial pressure are also common complaints.

The benefits of a return to in-person work are very real for many, from rekindling friendships to the buzz of face-to-face collaboration and teamwork.

A hybrid office culture will help with FORTO

As economies open up, another upheaval in workplace culture is on the cards. But this time, it’s different.

The office is changing. Most businesses have made it clear that they don’t intend to return to an office-only model. Commuting five days a week and rows upon rows of messy desks are – we hope – over for the majority.

There’ll be a return to the office of sorts – but it’s unlikely to be the same. Flexibility for employees will be king.

“Employees are in charge, not companies… The employees and the talent market is (sic) going to drive working flexibility, not the companies. Because if a company says these are our rules, they’re not going to have the talent.” says Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder Brian Cesky.

Remote-first means the default is working remotely – whether that’s at home, in a local co-working space or in a coffee shop. Organizations still have offices, but they’re used very differently – usually for collaboration, brainstorming and facilitating the social side of work.

The face-to-face human interaction so crucial for developing relationships and producing great work is not lost, and employees get to enjoy the flexibility of working away from the office if they want to. Often, office space is provided for people who want to come in to do quiet work too, if they don’t have a suitable remote work location available.

Help employees overcome hot desk anxiety

A high-functioning remote-first culture relies on some form of desk-sharing system.

Gone are the days of one desk per person. With a hybrid workplace model, there’s no need. You can use office space more productively and include more social and collaboration spaces.

In the past, shared desks meant hot desking. It had a bad rep, and rightly so. You didn’t know where you’d be sitting, or even if you’d find a workstation at all. Desks weren’t always clean. Get up to go to the bathroom and you’d risk losing your spot.

These problems can be overcome with hoteling office space. Booking software that powers office hoteling, such as Kadence, lets employees reserve a desk in advance using an intuitive app, either as a one-off booking or on a regular cadence. They can choose when they come in, where they sit, and who they sit with. Actual desk usage can inform cleaning rotas, so a clean desk awaits every employee.

For organizations, a desk hoteling software system unleashes the potential of the office in a remote-first culture. You can set up office neighborhoods that cater for different teams’ needs. Your space planning decisions are informed by actual and forecast desk usage data, so you can create a workplace employees can thrive in. You can experiment with different layouts virtually.

Wellbeing tips to overcome anxiety about returning to the office

Paying attention to employee wellbeing when you implement any change in workplace routine will help make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Avoid uncertainty

Uncertainty is a source of anxiety, so consult employees about changes. Our employee survey toolkit is a great starting point. Once agreed, communicate changes clearly. Fear can be contagious, but so can positivity. Be realistic about concerns but remain upbeat in your communications and focus on the benefits the new setup will bring.

2. Create those water cooler moments

Our recent study of over 1,500 employees revealed that ‘watercooler moments’ were some of the most noted benefits of in-office experience. Reconfigure office design to encourage those serendipitous encounters.

3. Create a seamless experience

Intuitive tools that let employees and teams reserve workspaces easily – from individual desks to meeting rooms – will make the in-office experience as seamless and stress-free as possible.

4. Rebuild community

Rebuild that community feel with social events, workplace apps, digital communication platforms such as Slack and an office setup that encourages connection – such as hub and spoke models and a welcoming “first floor”.

5. Design workplaces focused on wellbeing

From introducing green spaces to natural light and air flow, draw on the principles of biophilic design to promote wellbeing.

A final thought on relieving office anxiety

It’s no surprise that FORTO is preying on the minds of many workers. Neuroscience shows us that change is hard. But a modern, remote-first model that puts flexibility first will help your employees.

Whether they’re fans of remote working or not, they’ll have options and be able to get the best of both worlds. And paying attention to employee wellbeing will make sure the transition is a smooth one.