COVID-19 has changed many aspects of life, particularly in the workplace. The pandemic has brought upon workplace changes on a global scale and we are now seeing this shift in working arrangements here in North Queensland.
Whilst the last year has proven we have the tools, software and skills to work effectively from anywhere in the country, the reality of global shutdowns and the isolated format it promoted proved mentally tiresome for many. As the country continues to ease lock down restrictions and reopens the economy, local businesses are now embracing the new hybrid working model and as such are rethinking office design and restructuring work arrangements to create safer and more productive working environments for staff.
WHAT IS THE HYBRID OFFICE-HOME WORKING MODEL?
According to the Remote Employee Experience Index, researched by Slack, 72 percent of global knowledge workers prefer what is known as a hybrid arrangement. This work format alternates time spent in the office with the flexibility of time working from home. Having a designated working place is still crucial for building functioning relationships within teams and clients, however, the hybrid working model enables employees to strike a mutually beneficial work/life balance and provides them with the option to work in the location where they feel the most productive. Whilst this model was on the rise pre-COVID, several businesses have since made the switch during this pandemic, both to increase the productivity of workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting social exchanges.
WHAT DOES THE HYBRID OFFICE LOOK LIKE?
Whilst the hybrid model sounds great on paper, what does this look like in the workplace? Dedicating assigned days for in-office meetings means less staff will be in the workplace at one time. This effective, alternating in-office structure means the workplace needs to be adaptable to the needs of different staff members on any given day. Therefore, reconfiguring the office space to adapt and cultivate a communal working environment whilst adhering to social distancing measures is crucial, with new studies showing employees are 50% more engaged in workplaces that encourage collaboration through their layout.
DESIGNING PRODUCTIVITY-DRIVEN WORKPLACES
Long gone are the days of crammed desks, no privacy and uncomfortable furniture. Height-adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs are now the smart way to provide a flexible working environment which can be altered to suit the needs of each employee. Moving back to offices doesn’t signify the end of video conferencing either. If anything, it means quite the opposite. This is why dedicated spaces such as privacy booths with video conferencing specifications will fulfil the continuing need to meet with colleagues and clients who are working remotely. For those in the office, individual work pods with wrap-around barriers not only assist in complying to social distancing requirements but offer employees the option of privacy when taking video meetings, phone calls or provide the option to work independently in the office space.
What was once seen as ‘futuristic’ has now arrived on our doorstep. The tradition of clocking on for a 9-to-5 shift has become a thing of the past, and as our region returns to the workplace, all signs are pointing in the direction of the hybrid model to foster productivity and flexibility amongst workers. Whilst the transition may not be easy initially, when done correctly, it can have numerous long-term benefits for your business and put you ahead of the game when it comes to the future of work.
FOCUS: Concentrating 100% on the job at-hand and making sure that there are no unwanted distractions.
RECHARGE: Having a moment to relax and re-orientate for the next task ahead.
COLLABORATE: Co-creating, ad-hoc meetings and creative encounters, setting the scene for innovations that are the key to success.
PLAY: Informal collaboration and exchange of ideas, blurring the line between work and play.
By Wade Larkin, Managing Director of NPS Commercial Furniture.