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Modern Workspaces: Getting Started With a Hybrid Workspace

What is a hybrid workspace?
Let’s start with what it’s not.

Ian Morely

By Ian Morley

Workplace transformation is not something that can be accomplished in a matter of months or even a year. Rather, it’s a continuous journey of evolution and learning that aligns your workplace with your company’s larger objectives. If your company is just starting out on this journey, you’ve certainly realized that it’s impossible to modernize your entire portfolio at once. That’s why, among all the buzz about the modern workplace, the term “hybrid workspace” is beginning to emerge.

What is a hybrid workspace? Let’s start with what it’s not: an end in and of itself. Hybrid represents an iterative process of moving from traditional to agile, modern environments that support the changing nature of work.

 

What are the goals behind workplace transformation?

Why is your company looking to begin modernizing your office portfolio with hybrid workspace? Chances are, the stats about wasted space in corporate offices and the staggering amount of money you can save by optimizing space got your attention initially.

However, most companies quickly realize that moving toward hybrid workspace has even bigger benefits. While cost savings in the tens of millions (or more) are often realized by moving to this new environment, smart organizations are re-investing a portion of that savings back into the workplace. They are adding features that support employees, which leads to productivity improvements that drive better top line results.

Learn more: Agile Working Benefits: Moving Beyond the Dollars

Enabling collaboration

First and foremost, workplace must help to transform the way companies operate. Today’s knowledge economy demands unprecedented levels of productivity and innovation for companies to stay competitive. Markets are being disrupted by new players with better ideas, and even the most well-established firms must up their game to maintain their position.

The fact is, innovation rarely comes from a solitary worker in an enclosed cubicle. Collaboration is the fuel that drives more and better ideas, which requires a significant cultural shift from your workforce. Teamwork needs to become the new standard operating procedure.

The biggest benefit of the modern workplace is creating environments that encourage people to work together. The hybrid workplace begins to break down barriers between teams by removing the physical barriers. Designs include open spaces like atriums, shared workspaces in common areas, staircases with seating, and even outdoor workspace. The design of the modern office encourages movement by locating desirable amenities in diverse locations, as well as making access easier with features like staircases. These modern spaces facilitate “casual collisions” throughout the workday to promote teamwork and increase collaboration. The physical environment mirrors and supports the cultural changes happening in the organization.

What does that look like? Watch these videos to see examples of workplaces that encourage collaboration:

Minter Ellison Workplace, Sydney
World’s Greenest Office Building Is Dutch: The Edge

Attracting and retaining talent

“The war for talent” is one just about every company is battling. Those that are winning are doing so with a powerful weapon: modern workplaces. According to CBRE, talent now trumps cost as the top consideration in workplace strategy.

Learn more: 3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

Even companies without a fully agile portfolio can attract and retain talent with hybrid workspaces. Workers from all generations are looking for physical spaces that offer attractive design, natural light, greenery, comfortable furnishings for different work styles, and the latest technology, as well as amenities like cafes, gyms and wellness features. An inviting, modern workplace becomes one more tick in the competition for talent. You’re no longer competing with other firms for top candidates based on salary alone, since you can offer a welcoming, efficient and effective workplace where people want to collaborate with others and accomplish their work. Your modern workplace can provide value that others can’t match.

Here are some of the types of environments that are attracting top talent for progressive companies:

The LEGO Group shares plans for new office building in Billund, Denmark
Salesforce Video Wall

Hybrid workspace: planning your journey from traditional to modern workspace

With a global portfolio and a workforce in the tens of thousands at least, change takes time. And it’s not only the physical transformation of space, but the strategic planning and change management that are required to ensure you achieve the desired outcomes.

That’s where the hybrid workspace comes into play: smart companies are transforming space in stages and using each project as a learning experience that feeds the next transformation.

With so many other companies on this journey, it might be tempting to plan your transformation around what other successful companies have done. The problem with this strategy is that every company is different. Even looking at what another company in your own industry is doing will not guarantee that the same strategy will work for you. This is an essential lesson we’ve learned firsthand supporting clients who are leading the way in implementing modern workplaces.

Instead, you need to discover the workplace strategy that will best benefit your business and your people. How do you do that? With thorough research and reliable data about what your people need and how they work best.

Read more about how to do that: Activity-Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All

How can companies get started implementing the hybrid workspace?

While it is possible to transform your workplace a few floors at a time, the best results will come from starting with one building. That’s because it’s very difficult to achieve the cultural changes that are needed on a smaller scale. Your workforce needs to be immersed in the experience to truly embrace the new way of working.

That being said, while you’re in the process of planning and building your hybrid workspace, you can build excitement and help teams adjust to the new work style by setting up smaller pilots or “experience centers.” These could be a floor or two redesigned for non-assigned seating and activity-based working, where impacted teams can take turns working for a month or so prior to the big move to the new building.

Here are a couple of tips to help you get started planning your first workplace transformation.

Choose your location carefully

A new, modern workplace is exciting for your workforce, and many who are not slated to work there will be curious about the new space. There’s sometimes a risk of unassigned workers flocking to the new building, which can affect the working conditions and the outcome if you have 20% more people using the space than you planned for. So, for your first hybrid workspace it’s smart to avoid choosing a building that’s one of several in the same complex or even in the same neighborhood. Instead, choose a location that’s not too close to your other facilities.

Make it a learning experience

Remember that your hybrid workspace is just the first step to a fully agile, modern workplace portfolio. Your first efforts need to be chosen carefully so you can learn from the experience and apply that intelligence to future projects. So, make sure that the teams you choose to locate in the new space are a good representation of your organization. It won’t help you plan future spaces if you choose a homogenous group that is very different from the rest of your organization.

Also, remember that not every worker and every job function is well suited to working in an agile, collaborative space. For example, customer service or call center workers who spend most of their time on the phone may not have much to gain from the new setting. When choosing teams to work in the new hybrid workspace, be mindful of their daily tasks and work style and choose those will benefit most from working collaboratively.

In an upcoming blog, we’ll address the issue of understanding the needs of your workforce in order to design the right environments for each team. Don’t miss it!

In the meantime, read this guide for more tips for developing your hybrid workspace: Best Practices for the Modern Workplace.

Best Practices For The Modern Workplace

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