Return to Office: Our Hybrid Approach
By Mindi Faris, POI VP Client Engagement.
If you asked me if there was something our entire company could agree on, I would probably have said the possibility was slim. A positive of having a diverse team is the varied outlooks on almost every question or topic that is presented. That is, until we asked our team what they have liked most about the working from home this past year. And the answer to getting everyone to agree is: Flexibility!
In our latest employee survey, we were curious to learn more about how our team really felt about the shift to working from home. Our survey started with the following question:
What would you cite as the biggest advantage to our distributed (hybrid) workforce.
A resounding 100% of our team agreed the biggest advantage to a hybrid workforce is work / life flexibility.
In the previous Return to Office blog (read it here if you haven’t had the chance to) we discovered while our team is looking forward to a return to the office, they also want to continue with the same flexibility working from home this past year has afforded them. So, while we all crave flexibility, most of our team also wants a hybrid work environment that offers the opportunity to come in the office.
This is the point on our return to office planning where the fun begins! We have been given an opportunity to completely reimagine our office. The purpose our office will provide to our team, partners, and clients in the future is full of exciting possibilities.
Never in my 16+ years at Pacific Office Interiors has the industry of Office Interiors been at such the forefront of mainstream media. The Today Show recently featured Google’s Workplace of the Future and highlighted innovative ideas they are considering as their own staff plan to return to the office. It seems anyone and everyone is talking about the future of office and has their own ideas of what that will look like for them as they begin their own return to the office planning.
Now that we understood our team desires a hybrid approach with some time each week spent in the office, we asked a very important question; Why?
Our first step in considering the redesign of our office, was to ask our team what they want to do while they are there. Assuming most concentrated and independent work would be done outside of the office, we were curious to learn what types of spaces our team would want included in our new office design.
The next question in our employee survey, we seek to understand just that:
As we think about redesigning our office, what should be our top focal point be for the layout design?
We asked our team to select their top 3 from the list. The top two answers were Adaptable Spaces and Collaborative Areas. Focused Workspaces, Private Meeting Rooms, and Café / Lounge followed with Renew / Restore Areas only being considered by one as important in the office.
Adaptable and Collaborative areas are two of the most dynamic and creative spaces we design for our clients. The most innovative furniture that has been developed in recent years is the perfect solution to spaces that change, adapt, and encourage connection.
For instance, our newly formed Studio department will need a weekly connection space and our team is currently working on a fluid design that will support our team’s current and future needs. We plan to incorporate a selection of our existing furniture complimented with exciting new products and solutions from a variety of manufacturer partners. In addition to furniture, the new space will include technology, biophilia, and more.
While most of the time may be spent in the office collaborating and connecting with others, it is important to also include focused workspace areas. More than likely, our team who plan to adopt a hybrid work schedule will no longer have a dedicated workspace. What our team will need is focused spaces at the office where they can take calls, concentrate on specific tasks, and focus while others may be collaborating around them.
Some of our favorite solutions for focused workspaces include the sound-absorbing BuzziSpace BuzziBooth and Haworth’s Openest retreat. These enclosed workspaces carve out sensory relief from the noise of surrounding workspaces. They provide privacy and functionality for the mobile worker who needs heads-down time while in the office.
While we are eager to setup our next normal workspace, we recognize that like everything, it is a fluid state. As our Return to work(place) strategy continues, we are eager to soon welcome our team back to a redesigned space that offers full collaboration with the touchdown and workpoints we need. There is still a lot to do, and our talented team continues working hard to ensure our journey is best thought out and implemented . . . stay tuned!