Hybrid Horizons – Exploring Fluid Work Dynamics
Merging the Conventional Office Sphere with Remote Work
The presence of COVID has in one way or another changed everyone’s lives. The concept of the traditional work environment was flipped on its head, exchanged for a delicate balance between what became colloquially known as the hybrid work model. This means that there aren’t many big enterprises that apply a single model anymore. While some companies continue to thrive under complete remote work after migrating there during the pandemic, you will have difficulty finding an organization that once worked exclusively under an office setting pre-COVID that has fully returned as of 2023.
The monthly online Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes reported that less than 5% of days were worked at home before the pandemic, rising to a high watermark on May 1, 2020, with fully 61.5% of full-paid working days worked at home, then a decline to 37% by the end of the year and 29.5% by August 2022, holding steady since. There have been changes to work dynamics and culture ever since COVID hit, making both employers and employees reconsider the financial climate around keeping workers remote, moving back to the office, or finding a way to fuse both in harmony.
The only option left really, is the blending of the two. A workforce where some higher-ups come onto campus a certain amount of days a week, others fewer days a week, while some stay completely remote, means that both a virtual and in-person approach must be applied. Businesses have to adapt to the concept of the physical space as well, which will sometimes host a certain amount of workers, and will sometimes host more for weekly, even monthly meetings. These spaces have to be fluid, adaptable, and cost-effective.
If you are wondering what kind of hybrid options would best suit your operating scheme for your business, you are in the right place. According to Tango Analytics, Let’s review the various forms of the most popular and trending workspace models.
First, all hybrid workplaces will have virtual and in-person options. But there are various ways in which your business can structure that. You may want greater control over how your space gets used to optimize use and/or flexibility to maintain employee satisfaction. That again, depends upon your company, the number of people you have employed, and your work-from-home policy. Make sure you always have enough support of space whether the demand is one single number or it flutters throughout time. All of these differences are defined within the boundaries of either a fixed or flexible hybrid mode:
A fixed model of the hybrid model is where you decide who works remotely and when. Your virtual employees may have a schedule for when they work remotely, and when they may need to come into an office setting. There also may be workers who are always on-site. This is more common for companies where roles aren’t able to be delegated to a work-from-home setting, or the workforce is more evenly distributed.
A flexible hybrid work environment gives employees more control over their own setting. They may have a number of days to work remotely each week or month, or they have complete freedom to decide what days they come in. It is possible too that they don’t come in at all, due to their own choices. Workers can also set their own hours. This level of work involves quite an amount of variance, as each day will be different in relation to the number of people present in the office.
So now since you know what model you are personally working with it is time to see what options are available as a flexible office workspace. We will dive deep into the various definitions and the physical aesthetics of said workplace, to allow you to explore the options that will be best suited for a free-flowing and conducive environment for productive working.
Flexible Workspace Options and Definitions
You have encountered various words and definitions if you have researched flexible office spaces. Some may sound confusing at first, and oddly similar, but we are here to lay them out for you. First of all, there are three general definitions of the flexible off spaces that each set of aesthetically defined areas will fall under:
- Coworking Office Centre: This option offers a creative and collaborative atmosphere. It usually has an open workspace with well-distributed desks, where each desk or group of desks is rented to its own business. Flex work centers can also offer a lounge area and access to meeting rooms and private office spaces, giving employees privacy and autonomy.
- Serviced Office Centre: This space has open-plan workstations and break areas, but most of the space is usually used as individual offices, meeting rooms, and boardrooms. A serviced office also includes a reception team, support services, and IT, which makes it attractive to companies looking for seamless workplace management without having to commit to renting a permanent space.
- The Shared Office: This space offers a shared arrangement, where one company rents out its spare desks and offices to other companies, who will benefit from the optics of having a commercial office address. This is the most affordable office center because you only pay a portion of the rent. It is also ideal for businesses needing space to set up and work in a professional-looking environment.
Now, here are the specific individual workstations that fall under the umbrella of the previously explored workspaces:
—Dedicated Desk: This is a workspace that is just for you. If it is an open area, you will share the common areas with other members, but the desk and chair are exclusively for you. It will also usually come with a lockable cabinet you can use throughout the day and the amount of time dedicated to that specific workspace. This will make the desk a bit more expensive than a hot desk.
—Hot Desk: A hot desk is similar to a fixed desk, except you don’t have an assigned workstation. When you rent one of these or a group of desks in an open space, that space can change daily. You will always have a space to sit and do your work, continuing to use the on-site amenities like the meeting rooms, the kitchen, and break areas. Your area will change daily, on a first-come, first-serve basis.
—Private Office: This office is exactly the opposite of the one described above. A private office can range from a single room/office to an entire floor of multiple offices, depending on your needs. It is lockable, and only you as the renter can access it. Private office space is great for confidentiality and security. You can include additional services like mail handling, phone answering, and other administrative support should it be a requirement for your organization.
—Virtual Office: A virtual office provides business support and a reputable address without needing a physical office space. These are great for small businesses needing an address at a cost-effective price. They also work for businesses expanding into new markets, as the address can help build trust with locals.
Now that you know the difference between the definitions of various workspaces, let’s talk about the physical elements of each area and how/who it would benefit most without your company.
Flexible Workspace Designs
—Shared Resources: Shared resources have the greatest impact on satisfaction within these office spaces. The resources may include fully stocked cafes, comfortable lounges, and open areas where employees can stretch and move around. Regardless of who works where, everyone must be able to have access to them.
—Breakout Spaces: The collaborative nature of these flexible offices is intentional, but despite that, employees still need the ability to work in smaller groups or work alone. For company morale and mental health, they also need to be able to take a break, away from generally noisy, fast-paced, agile environments. Quiet zones are necessary, allowing privacy for focused thinking and rest.
—Mobility Support: Your employees should be able to work from anywhere, not just their desks. Make sure there is reliable wireless connectivity throughout the building you are using. It would be a bonus if the chairs the workers are using have a power source or a power source nearby so they can charge their devices.
—Activity-Based Workstations: The most effective office spaces are designed to meet the varying desires and physical needs of their employees. Everyone is different.Some may need a simple desk and ergonomic chair with back support, while others like to stand and improve circulation, avoiding sedentary work.
—Flexible Furniture: Furniture that is flexible and movable greatly encourages collaborations. They are more likely to collaborate and brainstorm if they can quickly move their chairs and tables. Look for modular sofas, stools, and a large table that can be used for games during lunch breaks.
—Open Plan Layouts: Flexible workspaces usually feature a basic open connect. On the other hand, long tables with people packed in close is not ideal, especially after the pandemic. Noise pollution leads to work not being done and employees getting distracted more easily. That will ultimately cost your company money. Look for open-space offices with workstations for two to four people, depending on how many employees you have.
The Future of Work Report Findings: Preferences and Challenges
Tango Analytics dug into what matters to the modern office worker in a report published in early 2023. Workplaces worldwide have embraced the remote worker due to a global emergency, which continues today when most of the pandemic restrictions have gone. Productivity increased while work-life balance was of the utmost importance. This concept filled an ongoing conversation about the relevance of the physical workspace and how much it really contributes to workflow.
Here is a summary of the most common preferences and challenges that come from applying a seamless hybrid model of working in 2023:
Preferences: The conflict between employee and employer preferences was explored in a study that Tango overlooked. They asked about how appealing remote work was to entirely in-person employees, how appealing access to company office space was to remote and hybrid employees, and how often employees would ideally like on-site working. Here are the results in summary:
—All three groups wanted their employer to provide access to an office
—Most employees claimed hybrid work is their ideal model
Challenges: An office is optimized for work, whereas a home or office isn’t. So, a common thread against the argument for office space is that working remotely would only amplify common workplace challenges. Tango asked fully remote and entirely in-person employees to rate common workplace challenges on a scale of one to seven, with one indicating that it was not at all challenging and seven indicating that it was very challenging. Here are the results in summary:
—In-person employees reported having more interruptions and less privacy than remote workers.
—Remote workers reported having a (slightly) easier time connecting with coworkers.
—Remote workers found other workplace challenges less difficult than entirely in-person workers.
It is clear that whether they are shared or private office spaces there is a benefit to the hybrid model of work structure. It is the way of the future and is not going away anytime soon. So, embrace and tailor it to your workers, mission mandate, and industry standards.
At The Professional Centre (TPC), we are committed to aligning with the evolving hybrid work dynamics. Our spaces are meticulously designed to offer both the structure of a traditional office and the freedom of remote work. From high-speed WiFi to a variety of private suite and open floor designs, we ensure a seamless transition between different work modalities.
Located in the heart of Toronto’s downtown financial district, TPC provides a conducive work environment and opens the gateway for networking with like-minded professionals. Take advantage of our location to lower your operational costs while enjoying the vibrancy of a community that thrives on innovation and collaboration.
Is your organization ready to explore the hybrid work horizon? Embark on a journey of discovery with our tailored workspace solutions that bridge the conventional and the remote, enabling a fluid work dynamic that propels you toward success.Discover our flexibly designed and fully managed workspace solutions.