How to make Hybrid ‘work’

Written by Stephen Minnett

02/05/2022

“I came to work to connect with my team and they weren’t there!”

Many of the businesses we are engaging with are committed to the new Hybrid way of working that is evolving in response to the pandemic restrictions. They are now realising that the successful adoption of Hybrid requires a new approach to coordinating and organising work.

Some of the questions that people are grappling with include:

  • Why have I come in if half my team are working at home?
  • Where will I sit when I come in – and will I be able to sit with my team?
  • What days next week will all our team be in the office?
  • How are our people using space? ………….and how much do we need?

The advent of Hybrid working saw trends that were already present in the workplace accelerate, and an evolution that could have taken a decade, compressed into a short period of time. While there had been growing awareness pre-COVID that technology could support work from a variety of places beyond the traditional office, it was only under lockdown that this evolution became a necessity.

While the effectiveness and productivity of home working initially surprised many people, it has become apparent that while the home can support individual focussed work well for most people, there are still activities that are better done in the office.

In the crisis of remote work during the pandemic people adapted and did their best to be effective and keep connected with their workmates.

However, many organizations are now realizing they need to address the longer-term requirements of mentoring and developing new staff, as well as driving increased innovation and collaboration. To do this, most businesses need employees to return to the office for at least some portion of their time. 

Having experienced some of the advantages of Hybrid working including saving the time and cost of commuting, many employees are now reluctant to go back to the office. One reason Hybrid work strategies are evolving is that employees have quickly grown comfortable with not having to be in the office all the time. Many individuals have come to rely on the flexibility that comes with remote work and don’t want to go back to how they worked pre-COVID.  In an economic environment where there are shortages of staff, the war for talent is very real. In that context what sort of Hybrid working is on offer becomes a key part of people’s decision as to who they work for.

The extent of Hybrid working is becoming employee driven, and to encourage people to come to the office, employers must move beyond simply defining a policy. They must make the whole experience of coming into the office attractive and compelling, with spaces that support better collaboration and a richer experience of “a day in the office”.

With this greater choice comes a big challenge – how to make that experience of coming in and connecting with their team work for people, without their behaviour being mandated by rules and guidelines?

The missing link

So, if mandating behaviours doesn’t work what might be the answer?

At Futurespace we have been helping our clients to explore new ways to organise work in pilot projects and have been experimenting with some of the new technology-based solutions that are appearing to support Hybrid work.

Calven

One of the best solutions we have seen to date is Calven.

Calven is an Australian start-up company with support from some leading companies, including the very successful Australian tech company Canva.

Calven is a workplace tech platform that brings together employee experiences and workplace behaviours through supporting individuals by:

  • Allowing them to plan when they come into the office
  • Providing visibility of when other members of their team will be in the office so they can self-organise
  • Planning events, experiences and team onsites and “nudging” them to suggest when they might come in
  • Allowing them to choose where they sit and see who else will be around them
  • Recording people’s seating preferences (similar to the way airlines do) and supporting those preferences
  • Doing everything through a simple phone-based App with an intuitive interface as well as integrations into Teams & Slack
  • Interacting with all office technology on one platform (e.g. access passes, visitor registration, desks sensors, meeting room booking)

Most importantly the interface is simple and user friendly – this is a critical factor because we know people will abandon or “work around” anything that causes friction or frustration.

For team leaders, Calven gives instant visibility of their team’s preferences, schedules and locations to enable effective on-site and remote interactions,

For employers, the data gathered can also help the organisation to create, manage and measure workplace policies and guidelines. With the gathering of accurate data on preferences and behaviours, over time that information can help the workplace to evolve and respond to how people want to work, without the need for further surveying of a workforce that is likely suffering from survey fatigue. The physical workplace can be “right-sized” to support the way people want to use it – not oversized with resultant costs or undersized which can discourage people from choosing to come in. These insights into how the space is utilised also provides valuable data to inform long term real estate decision making.

Futurespace has started working with clients and Calven to drive new workplace strategies and design solutions – if you would like to learn more please get in touch.

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