Hybrid work is poised to define the new era of work. A staggering 82 percent of company leaders plan to allow their employees to work in a hybrid way moving forward, according to research by Gartner. But there’s a problem with how many leaders are adopting a very simplistic definition of hybrid work – based on the number of days that work happens inside the office or outside. For many leaders, hybrid work means two or three days working in the office per week.
That’s a big missed opportunity. Hybrid work is more than creating a policy with a set number of remote days. The more effective leaders understand that hybrid work is about fundamentally rethinking how their teams work. It’s about recognizing that not all people are equal and not all work is created equal. Effective leaders are seizing the opportunity to rebuild work practices from the ground up by answering the questions of how people work and where they work from.
At OfficeRnD, after carefully analyzing how we work in the post-pandemic world, we realized that we need to rethink our hybrid work strategy. As a result, we built a new office and implemented activity-based working based on neighborhoods and we’re loving it. Let’s dig into why activity-based working can be the answer to many of the hybrid work challenges.
Activity-based working recognizes that people perform different tasks in their day-to-day work, and therefore need a variety of work settings to carry out these activities effectively. Activity-based working is a way of working that encourages teams to connect, individuals to flourish and organizations to thrive. Simply put, an activity-based workplace is a flexible office where people have different options to work from that support a variety of tasks throughout the day.
For example, here’re the different types of work we enumerated when we built our hybrid work policy:
Then, we grouped them into two main categories:
As a result, when building our new offices, we wanted to plan for more collaborative spaces in the office. Our plan is to balance these two activities by assuming that a lot of the focused work will happen at home, and heavy collaboration and strategic work will happen in the office. That’s in large part because people prefer to do strategic work in the office.
These location-based preferences for focused and strategic work underscore the importance of not forcing a hybrid work policy that is anchored in a specific number of days. When you understand the types of work that your employees are doing, you can be thoughtful about just what hybrid looks like for your organization.
Activity-based working is usually powered by technology! Following are some of the key elements that are making the activity-based working possible:
Although activity-based working can work both ways with desk hoteling and hot desking, we firmly believe that desk hoteling is the nicer option for your employees. With desk hoteling, people assigned to a neighborhood can choose a desk upfront and reserve it for an hour, day, or week. For example, when we built our new office, we dedicated 80% of all seats available for desk hoteling and 20% for hot desking. The hot desks are also important in cases you couldn’t or forgot to reserve a desk in advance in the neighborhoods. In these cases, you can rely on the very cool hot desk, collaborative area.
With the proper office hoteling software, they can also make the reservation recurring, see who else will be in the office beforehand, and come to the office stress-free.
When done well, ABW can be very beneficial to your teams and increase productivity, efficiency, and collaboration.
Switching to a hybrid work model can be very stressful. By evaluating your employees’ needs and building a tailored solution based on their activities, you can relieve all of that stress. It’s so much easier to come to and be productive in a space that’s built out for your personal work needs.
We commute to the office for one simple reason – community! In other words, we want to have face-to-face contact and work with other awesome people. Of course, sitting next to others is not a goal on its own. Just being around people won’t make magic overnight but in the long term, it helps us in so many ways.
For example, working closely with other professionals makes us better at what we do, helps us learn faster, grow faster, and advance our professional life faster. We learn by osmosis, by absorbing the experience of other people. Also, working physically together helps us unlock our combined creativity and spark ideas that are otherwise so much more difficult to come by.
Noise and distractions are two of the main objections against people coming back to the office. While that’s a reasonable critique, properly organized neighborhoods for focused work are an antidote to the issue.
Building out quiet neighborhoods for people who need secluded spaces is the solution to the noise and distractions problem. Tailored zones, in general, are the foundation of activity-based offices which are proven to massively increase productivity.
Activity-based working (and hybrid work as a whole), by definition, leads to 3 very important benefits:
On that note, OfficeRnD Hybrid can help you easily implement a hybrid way of working and give you advanced analytics of how your space is used. As a result, you can manage your hybrid workspace and make data-driven decisions to improve its utilization.
If anything, COVID brought the topic of employee engagement to a whole new level. The Great Resignation is here and will cause many businesses to suffer serious losses. On the flip side, organizations that put people first will always be ahead of their competitors.
You can certainly make your employees much more engaged and happier with the move to hybrid by utilizing activity-based working. Besides setting up the right spaces, you can adopt an easy-to-use employee booking software that makes their office experience much smoother. For example, OfficeRnD Hybrid allows your employees to reserve desks in several ways – from within Microsoft Teams, through Outlook, Google Chrome, or Google Calendar, or with our Mobile app or Web portal.
Your very first step in implementing activity-based work should be a research project. Start by collecting as much data as you possibly can on how your employees work – everything from their current and future projects, to their requirements for amenities, phone booths, quiet spaces, etc. Then, you should be able to segment the types of work your teams do and also categorize employees into groups or communities that can be translated into office neighborhoods.
On paper, this process sounds easier than it actually is. In reality, this is a very complex undertaking, involving a lot of research, strategic meetings, and brainstorming. However, the results are more than worth it.
When you’re ready to start implementing your ideas, technology can make the transformation at least, a little simpler for everyone. For example, you can use OfficeRnD Hybrid’s floorplanning tool to quickly try different layouts and neighborhood arrangements.
Once your new office layout is ready, you continue the setup by:
Lastly, when you’re done with the setup, your employees can easily book desks in the right areas based on the rules you’ve established. There’s no uncertainty in terms of desk or space availability.
If you want to see this process in action and implement hybrid work in your organization, signup for a free OfficeRnD Hybrid demo and consultation here!
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