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Hybrid Office Design: How to Get it Right

When it comes to hybrid office design, there are two major keys to getting it right. The first is all about how you design your new work model to fit today’s flexible work demands. The second has to do with the more literal sense of workspace design, and how you actually set up your office in a way that helps facilitate hybrid work. Stay tuned until the end for some real-world examples of companies embracing hybrid office design.

Understanding Hybrid Office Design

Two things have become non-negotiable in today’s working world when it comes to hybrid office design - flexibility and wellbeing. Companies who bake these two things into their DNA prove to be highly successful when it comes to recruiting, retaining talent, and scaling their organization. To answer the question, how do I create a hybrid office around these two non-negotiables, keep reading.

Designing Your Hybrid Work Practices

Let’s talk flexibility. This isn’t seen as a privilege anymore. Rather, it’s a vital need for employees today. Many employees feel that if a role doesn’t offer flexibility, it’s not worth taking. And, on top of that, money is no longer a main driving force for most anymore, when deciding whether to take a job or not. Flexibility, on the other hand, is.

Flexibility isn’t just important to people because it offers them freedom. What people really appreciate about flexibility is that with it, we can design a better work-life balance for ourselves, which ultimately leads to greater wellbeing.

Employees with a higher level of well-being perform better, stay longer, work smarter, and are often more invested in the company they are working with. If these aren’t enough reasons to adopt more flexible and hybrid work practices then I don’t know what are.

If you’re not sure where to start with crafting these practices, here are a few resources to get you thinking about where to start and which direction to lean into.

Redesigning Office Space for a Flexible Work Environment

Designing your workplace environment to accommodate the needs of a hybrid organization requires you to not only rethink the type of lease you have and your location but also your office configuration, which comes down to, the actual layout of your hybrid office space.

What is a hybrid office layout?

A hybrid office layout can vary depending on your company. However, today’s flex office is typically based on the absence of a designated office, desk, or workspace. Future offices mix modernity with comfort and dynamism. Employees are now more often seen as collaborators in a company and allowed the autonomy to choose which space suits them most for carrying out their daily activities, whether it be in the office, home, or elsewhere.

How you actually set up your office will either enable or disable the facilitation of hybrid work, which is why redesigning office space in the right way is so important. With tools like Where.team you can better manage desk usage, space occupancy, and bring your hybrid team together for more face time. If you’re designing your flexible work environment for hybrid work, you’ll also need the tools to help you manage your space effectively.

👋 Bring your hybrid team together

There’s a better way to schedule your days in the office...right from Slack!

Top Flex Office Trends

In the 2022 Work Trend Index by Microsoft, 5 major findings came up around hybrid office design and practices.

1️⃣ There’s a new what’s "worth it" equation

Employees are more likely to prioritize health and well-being over work than before the pandemic, 53% of employees to be exact. And, of Gen Z and Millennials, 52% of them are likely to consider switching to a new employer this year.

2️⃣  Managers feel lost in expectations

There’s a clear pain point when it comes to managing a hybrid workplace and 74% of managers are feeling lost and like they lack influence and/or resources to drive change for their employees. Along these lines, 54% of managers feel that leadership is out of touch with their employees.

3️⃣  The world is shifting fully to hybrid work

The way to get people to come into the office isn’t by forcing them to, but by giving them the autonomy to choose when they want to come in. The problem though is that 38% of these workers don’t know when/why to come to the office. This is mainly due to companies not properly laying out team agreements around hybrid work, nor identifying the best hybrid office design to go along with it. In the Work Trend Index, only 28% of companies identified with having created hybrid work agreements.

4️⃣  Flexible work doesn’t mean “always on”

We’ve all become familiar with digital exhaustion, and there’s no denying the numbers that prove it. There’s been a 252% increase in time spent in meetings (that’s just for MS Team’s users - imagine if we add up the Slack numbers too), and 32% increase in chat messages sent per person since March of 2020.

5️⃣  Trust is the most important social capital.

Building trust with outside networks is gaining importance for more than 51% of hybrid employees looking to switch to remote work in the next year. With this shift, the impact on social relationships needs to be evaluated.

The new work trends above became more pronounced with the 2020 pandemic and they’re still on the rise. For companies to thrive in today’s world, they need to take the positive trends and apply them to their organization, while pushing aside the harmful ones. Let’s take a look at three examples of organizations that are taking the good and leaving the bad to fully embrace hybrid office design. Plus, we’ll get into the question of what do hybrid offices look like, by demonstrating a few examples.

Innovative Companies Adopting Hybrid Office Design  - in their Practices & Environment

Designing the hybrid office that will work best for your organization isn’t an easy task. However, hopefully, some of the companies below will help boost your inspiration around creating the hybrid office design layout that works well for you.

1) Structural Design to Increase Face Time at Olympic House

Creating a sense of community among their workforce was one of the core focuses of Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland. In a piece from the Harvard Business Review, one manager shared that the Olympic House space was a...

“Happy place to come to every day, where we feed off each other’s energy.”

The physical design of the space facilitates this on all levels! At Olympic House, they have spaces for both formal and informal encounters. One example that beautifully displays this is in the central staircase of the building which is artistically shaped like the Olympic symbol with its five rings. This staircase is a place where individuals from various departments need to pass through on their way between their desks or other spaces and is a place where it is encouraged to stop for a chat. To make it even more inviting, they’ve added sofas and coffee corners around the staircase to make those water cooler chats all the more enjoyable. If that wasn’t enough, they’ve even added sound absorbent material into the space to create the coffee shop buzz feel and draw people in.

olympic house staircase

2) Promoting Openness & Transparency at Superology

This Zagreb-based tech company has built a neighborhood within a neighborhood with a hybrid office design focus on creating a space that promotes democracy and inclusion.

“As in the development of our product, so in the design of the workspace, we don't do anything just to do it. We know that open space is not for us because the balance between team and individual work is important to us from day one. The result of common thinking is an office that reflects our daily needs and our culture. It is based on flexibility, autonomy and empowerment of people through the so-called cross-functional teams composed of various experts' profiles, conceived as a 'small firm,' to allow complete autonomy in developing a particular part of the product. Therefore, we needed office space that will not limit their potential in any way"

- Ivan Lulić, Managing Direct @Superology

Other companies are also creating more office neighborhood-style spaces as well; take LinkedIn for example. Their Chicago office offers a space with cafe-style seating, more collaborative nook spaces, and hot desks (not sure what these are? Check out what is hot desking).

3) Adopting Modern Office Concepts at Deutsche Bahn

"Our motto is: An office must fit the needs of our employees, their tasks, and provide our staff not only with a space for creativity and collaboration but also concentration."

- Bettina Munimus, Project Manager @Deutsche Bahn (Mobile work unit)

It’s this motto and the values behind it that drove Deutsche Bahn to develop modern office concepts focused on meeting the needs of every employee. Besides revamping their own hybrid office design and workspace to make it more hybrid friendly, they also opened a co working space in Berlin's central station building and have created office social space areas to add to the collaborative atmosphere. The 1,500 sq meter space is part of the Smart City Initiatives (station-based working spaces).

modern office concepts

Today’s Hybrid Office

As you can see from the collaborative workspace design examples mentioned above, it’s not just the Google and Gitlabs of the world that are designing their hybrid office to fit more with their flexible working practices. No matter what kind of company you work with, it is in your best interest to make hybrid office design a focus for your organization. If you’re asking, where do I start and how do I redesign my office for hybrid work, it all goes back to two of the basics we mentioned at the start - flexibility and wellbeing. Define what this means in your organization and really get to know what the needs are of your employees. The only way to successfully redesign your office for hybrid work is to first look at what’s most important to your team and evaluate that alongside your company values. Next, outline your hybrid work practices, and finally, map out how you plan to redesign your office space for a flexible work environment. Good luck and enjoy your hybrid office design revamp!