In September, AVI Systems featured Brad Sousa, AVI CTO; Ira Weinstein, Founder and Managing Partner Recon Research Inc.; Jeff Day, Founder, North of 10; and Ben Tranel, Principal Architect & Commercial Real Estate Practice Leader, Gensler, who addressed the topic of hybrid workplace culture at our first AVI Impact event.
We’ve summarized some of the highlights of this important discussion below.
After months of the pandemic, we are all wondering when will our kids return to school safely and when will the adults be able to return to the workplace?
When will this end?
Make no mistake, we’ve continued working throughout these strange events – adapting to work-from-home routines. But as signs of recovery emerge, we’re reminded that going back to the office is going to look dramatically different than it did in early 2020.
As we prepare to support the new hybrid workplace – one in which some people continue to work from home and others return to the office – we have to find the model that best supports the business – one that allows us to connect and work together and make the workplace worth returning to.
The New Phase of Business – Migrating Back to the Office
Today we find ourselves in a middle phase where we're rebuilding our businesses again. In a CoreNet survey conducted in June 2020, corporate real estate professionals were asked, “When will companies see workers at the office at levels prior to the shutdowns in your country?” Around 30 percent of respondents said this could happen by the end of 2020. Another 35 percent said it would be June 2021 before all employees were back in the office.
Now obviously, there’s some work that simply can’t happen at home. What’s more, research tells us that while employees remained productive at home, they’re not as happy there. Their personal sense of worth and value toward work has declined while working from home full time.
In order to create a workplace that people want to return to, we must carefully examine the following:
Make the Workplace More Intentional
In a Gensler study, researchers found that 88 percent of workers who’ve been working at home want to return to the office four days a week. The GenZ and GenX workers miss working in the office the most. They want opportunities to socialize, collaborate, be mentored and learn together. This means the future of work in the office must be more intentional. When employees do go to the office, it will be with a purpose, (i.e. to collaborate).
It’s important to note that “in-between moments” – the side discussions that happen prior to or after a meeting – are difficult to create in one-dimensional video conferencing platforms. In-person moments can also help people move beyond cultural barriers that may exist when meetings involve colleagues from around the world.
Independent work can continue to be done remotely. Big decisions and strategy creation, however, happen best when people come together. Organizations must recognize there’s a place for both and they must be blended.
Pay Attention to Spatial Planning
Space defines culture.
As companies look at the space they occupy, they must consider how people come together to work and strive to understand why they want to be at work. Interacting in an office environment is difficult to recreate virtually.
Years ago, attending a video conference meeting was far less common. Simply starting the conference required technical skills and time to ensure the meeting went off without a hitch. In a hybrid workplace, as long as we can easily connect with our peers – in person or virtually – we’re good. We’re no longer leashed to a desk to accomplish our daily work. This decoupling of work and place is the new normal.
Delivering this new normal means providing frictionless technology and processes to create an environment that supports employee needs. From the time employees arrive to the time they leave, technologies must feel integrated and work seamlessly.
Adopt Technologies that Support Hybrid Work Collaboration
The new workforce co-authors work product together. Whether you're on a plane and your co-worker is in the office, or you’re at home and your colleague is working from a lakeside cabin, sharing tools and technology to get work done collaboratively is an absolute must among hybrid workforce employees.
Technology helps increase the level of connectedness we share. The tech used in board rooms, interview rooms, and ideation rooms must rise to meet the demand and purpose of our meetings. Companies are now challenged to create a nurturing, collaborative environment that is also flexible, safe and agile. It’s the type of environment required in order to accommodate the needs of employees. People are at the center of the experience and businesses must respond by advancing technology to ensure employees have the tools needed to stay connected.
For more insight into how to create a workplace worth returning to, click here and watch AVI Impact’s on-demand video featuring an insightful discussion on the topic.