As the world emerges from the post-pandemic struggles, organizations are embracing a hybrid office model that combines the best of remote and in-person work to create a dynamic and efficient workplace. However, this shift poses unique challenges for facility managers who must find new ways to manage space and resources. In this article, we delve into the rise of the hybrid office, explore the areas of change in facility management, and provide practical tips on how facility managers can leverage this change to create a workspace that is both attractive and productive.
- The hybrid office model has become increasingly popular due to its flexibility and adaptability.
- Facility managers must prepare for new challenges and areas of change in order to create a successful hybrid office. This includes real estate and space planning, office space design and configuration, workplace tech stack, office space booking, and facility services.
- Collaboration, workplace data, integrated tools, and sustainability should also be prioritized.
- The close collaboration between facility managers, HR and IT teams ensure that the hybrid office model is effectively aligned with the overall business strategy, with a focus on creating a sustainable and productive workplace that benefits both employees and the organization.
The Rise of the Hybrid Office
The rise of the hybrid office is a response to the changing needs of modern workplaces. A hybrid office combines aspects of remote work and in-person work, allowing employees to work from home part of the time while also maintaining a physical office space. This model has become increasingly popular due to its flexibility and adaptability, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hybrid offices are necessary because they allow companies to maintain productivity while also accommodating the needs of their employees, who may require flexibility due to family obligations, health concerns, or other factors. By offering employees the ability to work remotely part of the time, companies can improve morale and reduce stress levels, leading to a happier and more productive workforce.
Some of the benefits of hybrid offices include increased productivity, greater work-life balance, and reduced overhead costs for companies. It also allows organizations to tap into a global talent pool, as employees can work from anywhere in the world.
Hybrid Offices in Numbers
According to Gartner, 82% of organizations plan to adopt a hybrid office model in the near future. Hybrid offices have become increasingly popular in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this trend, with giants like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft already implementing it.
In a recent survey, 87% of knowledge workers declared wanting a hybrid work model, which allows them to work both remotely and in-person. In fact, 59% of workers said they would look for a new job if their employer did not offer a flexible work arrangement.
Hybrid offices can also be beneficial for companies, as they can reduce overhead costs and increase employee productivity. In fact, a recent study found that hybrid work models can increase employee productivity by up to 40%. 65% of enterprises are also investing in workplace enablement tools while the utilization of collaborative spaces has increased by 50% during 2021.
Regardless of the specifics, it's clear that hybrid offices are a growing trend that are here to stay. And, as the world adapts to the hybrid office model, facility managers must prepare for new challenges and areas of change.
Facility Management in Hybrid Offices: 5 Areas of Change
Here are five key areas of change that facility managers should consider:
Real Estate & Space Planning
Hybrid working is set to complicate real estate and facilities management as traditional office planning strategies based on headcount and location preferences are no longer sufficient. Firms are now targeting space reductions of up to 40% with complex planning that takes into account employee working styles in addition to head count and location preferences.
Real estate decisions must now consider a wider range of workplaces, including co-working sites or subleasing distributed locations. This requires a more flexible and agile approach to real estate planning and facilities management, with real estate managers needing to adapt quickly to changing needs and collaborate closely with HR departments to better understand employee behavior and preferences. While hybrid working presents challenges, it also offers opportunities for companies to create more efficient and productive workplaces that better meet the needs of their employees.
Office Space Design & Configuration
As companies transition to hybrid-enabled offices, space configuration and design must also evolve to accommodate the changing needs of the workforce. Traditional offices typically feature assigned seating with a desk-to-person ratio of 1:1, maximizing space efficiency and desk density.
In contrast, hybrid-enabled offices adopt a more agile approach to working with desk-sharing programs, allowing employees to work at any available desk. The design of these offices emphasizes collaboration with conference rooms and social areas that encourage teamwork and communication.
Additionally, hot desks are incorporated for individual work, providing a designated workspace for specific tasks while still allowing for collaboration. These changes in space configuration and design can lead to a more adaptable and productive workspace that fosters collaboration and innovation.
Workplace Tech Stack
The hybrid office model requires a robust workplace tech stack that supports both remote and in-person work. Traditional offices typically feature desks with phones, desktop towers, and screens to enable desk-based work. In contrast, hybrid-enabled offices require IT that supports agile working, such as easy-to-use internet and laptop-charging docks on desks.
Facility managers must invest in technology that supports remote work, such as video conferencing tools, collaboration platforms, and cloud-based storage solutions. The focus is on providing employees with the tools they need to collaborate and work effectively, regardless of their location. With the right workplace tech stack in place, hybrid-enabled offices can help companies increase productivity, improve communication, and better meet the needs of their employees.
Office Space Booking
Facility managers must also manage office space booking differently in the hybrid office model. With employees coming into the office on a flexible schedule, facility managers must ensure that the booking process is simple and intuitive. In traditional office settings, non-agile workers would typically book meeting rooms through simple space-booking software.
However, as more and more companies embrace agile working, staff now require mobile apps and digital kiosks to support their needs. These apps allow employees to book workstations, locate co-workers, and find available spaces across a wide range of local and central work locations. This increased flexibility has revolutionized the way we think about office space booking, enabling companies to provide their employees with the tools they need to work effectively and efficiently, regardless of their location.
Finally, facility managers must adapt their facility services to meet the needs of the hybrid office model. In traditional office settings, facilities services such as cleaning and maintenance were scheduled on a cyclical basis, reflecting standard office hours. However, as more companies adopt agile working practices, facilities services are now delivered on demand, reflecting the varied uses of workplaces and non-standard operating hours. This shift in service provision has allowed companies to be more flexible in their operations, ensuring that their facilities are always clean and well-maintained, regardless of the time of day. As a result, employees can work in a safe and comfortable environment that is tailored to their needs, no matter when they choose to work.
How Facility Managers Can Leverage the Change
The hybrid office model offers unique challenges and opportunities for facility managers to create a more efficient and productive workplace. Here are some tested ways facility managers can leverage the change to create a successful hybrid office:
Use Workplace Data to Design Hybrid Offices
Facility managers should use workplace data to design hybrid offices that meet the needs of both remote and in-person workers. This includes analyzing data on employee work patterns and preferences, as well as data on space utilization and occupancy. By using this data, they can create a workspace that supports collaboration and productivity.
Focus On Collaboration
Collaboration is critical in the hybrid office model. Facility managers should focus on creating a workspace that promotes collaboration, whether through the use of shared workspaces or technology that supports virtual collaboration. They should also encourage regular communication and facilitate opportunities for employees to interact with each other.
Implement Integrated Workplace Tools
Integrated workplace tools can help facility managers manage the hybrid office more effectively. These tools can include workplace management software, booking systems, and virtual collaboration tools.
Moreover, they are constantly seeking new ways to optimize their office space usage and reduce costs. One way they are doing this is by adopting advanced tech tools that track overall office occupancy. One such tool is the workplace analytics platform from YAROOMS, which uses sensors and data analytics to provide real-time information on space utilization. By tracking occupancy data, facilities managers can gain valuable insights into how their office space is being used and identify areas where space is being underutilized. This data can then be used to make informed decisions about space allocation, optimizing the use of available space and reducing costs.
Using tech platforms to support admin burdens also frees up facilities managers to focus more on how they support the new role of offices as social and collaborative spaces that truly help employees connect with colleagues and support their health and wellbeing. By using these tools, they can streamline communication and improve the overall efficiency of the workplace.
Align Your Strategy with HR and IT Teams
To create an effective and efficient hybrid office environment, facility managers must work closely with HR and IT teams to ensure that the overall business strategy is aligned with the hybrid office model.
This collaboration between facility management, HR, and IT teams is important for several reasons because:
- It ensures that the hybrid office model is fully integrated into the organization's overall strategy and goals, including workforce planning, talent management, and technology investments.
- It ensures that the necessary policies and procedures are in place to support remote work, including guidelines on communication, data security, and privacy.
- It ensures that the necessary technology and infrastructure are in place to support the hybrid office model, including robust remote access systems, collaboration tools, and cybersecurity measures.
Integrate Sustainability in Your Strategy for Long Term Success
Another area with high impact potential for facility managers is sustainability. As more employees work remotely, facility managers must find ways to reduce energy consumption and minimize waste in the office. This includes implementing sustainable practices, such as reducing energy consumption and minimizing waste, as well as investing in renewable energy sources. Additionally, facility managers may also consider implementing sustainability practices outside of the office, such as encouraging employees to use public transportation or offering incentives for biking or walking to work. This not only reduces the organization's carbon footprint and saves money on energy costs but can also have a positive impact on employee health and well-being.
Facility managers play a crucial role in leveraging the change brought about by the hybrid office model to create a more efficient and productive workplace. By using workplace data to design hybrid offices, focusing on collaboration, implementing integrated workplace tools, aligning their strategy with HR and IT teams, and integrating sustainability, they are brought to create a successful hybrid office that meets the needs of both remote and in-person workers.
In conclusion, the rise of the hybrid office model presents a unique opportunity for facility managers to transform the workplace and create a more efficient and collaborative environment. By leveraging workplace data and implementing integrated tools, facility managers can design a workspace that supports both remote and in-person work. They can also align their strategy with HR and IT teams to ensure that policies and procedures are in place to support the hybrid office. And, by prioritizing sustainability, facility managers can create a workplace that not only meets the needs of employees, but also benefits the environment and ensures long-term success.