Hybrid workplace best practices are top of mind for many companies as more and more offices adopt the hybrid model. The office has changed dramatically in the past year since the pandemic began. And with it, our understanding of how it can best be used to support team members and boost productivity.
By definition, the hybrid office is a flexible one, and as such, it presents seemingly endless configurations. Understanding what works best for your employees will therefore be rooted in using hybrid workplace analytics. These analytics reflect how they’re interacting with the office on a daily basis.
In this article we’ll share four best practices that can help you leverage office analytics to ensure all the benefits of the hybrid workplace.
Now that we are definitively in the space of the proverbial ‘new normal,’ there is a premium for understanding what works best for your employees and your company culture. And data will be key to this understanding. While there’s no shortage of hybrid workplace best practices available, there’s one that every company must follow: use data.
It’s now clear that the hybrid work model of the future will be heavily dependent on understanding employee preferences as well as their behaviors day-to-day. That’s why companies will need good reporting analytics and software. This is not only to be able to collect data, but also to put it to good use to implement work policies that support remote teams, home office workers, in-office workers, and everyone in between.
OfficeSpace’s reports give you real-time data and a high degree of flexibility to categorize and understand different dimensions of your hybrid work environment and hybrid teams. Leveraging these dimensions will give you the power to answer the most fundamental questions about your hybrid office. This will also arm you with the necessary information to make strategic decisions for both the near and long term.
The following hybrid workplace best practices will help you take advantage of your data so you can understand and manage emerging employee behaviors. This will help you continue to refine and define your hybrid work arrangements.
Employees have shifted their plans for how often they come into the office. They are increasingly demanding and expecting remote environments and flexible work. As a result, you need visibility into how often they actually plan to interact with the physical office. Whether it’s using it for work, face-to-face meetings, booking a conference room, or team-building activities, it’s essential information.
The Seating Needs feature from OfficeSpace allows you to categorize your employees into 4 distinct groups—ranging from Full Time in the office to Fully Remote—based on how they intend to use your workplace. You can configure these categories to fit your unique needs. You can also easily see and track how many of your employees are in each.
Coupled with our desk booking reports, you can also compare this seating need to how often your employees actually come into the office, helping you make better decisions on space planning and resource allocations.
Different teams will have different needs and ways of using the office. For example, your marketing team might only check in occasionally to brainstorm together, while your finance team uses the office more regularly.
Workplace leaders and facility managers (FMs) need simple tools to manage and organize these varying needs. Departments are one of the most common ways to organize your employees to leverage out-of-the-box reporting. They represent the primary structure and organizational unit that your company uses to organize people and resources. This takes the guesswork out of knowing what teams need the most square footage, heads-down workstations, or collaboration spaces. Departments may also help offices better manage sharing ratios and understand when teams are likely to run out of space.
Whether you’re trying to determine where Finance is sitting or which days Marketing came into the office last month, Departments are a fast and flexible way to understand team behavior across buildings and floors.
Lessons learned from office reopenings
In order for hybrid to truly work, FMs must manage capacity needs while also providing seating flexibility. There are many ways to use office neighborhoods to support your new office. This hybrid workplace best practice can help ensure you’re maximizing their value.
Since some teams share specific areas in the office, how can you better manage employees within groups of desks to ensure there’s enough space for everyone in their designated areas? Neighborhoods offer a connection between employees and the desks associated with their Neighborhood membership. In other words, employees can choose to work at any desk within their assigned neighborhood where they are a member. You can configure these Neighborhoods to reflect certain teams, specific types of work, or even social groups in the office.
This hybrid tool is a powerful way to establish target sharing ratios, track remaining capacity, and monitor usage. For example, you may find that some neighborhoods are immensely popular, while others are used less frequently. This is all important data to have at your fingertips.
Understanding activity-based working and employee needs when in the office is now critical. Going forward, we’ll continue to see diversity in how employees use the office, ranging from companies that support primarily remote employees to those where employees are primarily onsite. We can also expect great numbers of employees to toggle their time between the office and remote working, in various flexible arrangements.
As OfficeSpace CEO David Cocchiara explained in a recent interview on the future of work, for many workers, we can expect the office to become more of a destination, used for activities like onboarding and team meetings.
“Employees don’t go to the office just because they have to be there anymore,” Cocchiara explains. “They go because there’s something they’re trying to accomplish– whether that’s collaboration with another team or within their team, planning, reviews, brainstorming and similar activities.”
Given this new complexity in how employees will be using the office, you need to understand what types of workspaces they’re actually booking.
Space Types is an OfficeSpace feature that provides another way to understand how employees are using your space. You can use it to give rooms, cubicles, and spaces a specific space type categorization. Then, you can understand how often each type is being booked. You’ll be able to see the popularity of specific seat types or working areas and make decisions to modify your office to align best with what employees need to do their best work.
Access to this kind of data on collaboration and about how your employees are using your working environment is foundational to making strategic decisions about your office space and approach to hybrid work.
The hybrid workplace is here to stay. As offices are reopening, office workers will find a different work environment than what they left. Companies are evolving their corporate culture and molding this new model to meet their work culture and individual needs. The ‘ideal’ hybrid office will look different for different companies and sometimes for different roles. Hybrid demands sophisticated communication channels, the latest hybrid working tools, and capable facilities managers (FMs).
As you shift to hybrid working, your company should rely on data driven decisions. By effectively using analytics, businesses can inform short and long term strategies for managing an office space.
The new post-pandemic office is always evolving. It’s dynamic, and we need to keep learning, iterating, and designing what works best for a distributed team through a dispersed hybrid workforce. Progressive companies will therefore use a smart feedback loop to see how the evolving workplace can meet the demands of their employees and provide a better employee experience.
By following these hybrid workplace best practices, you can establish effective strategies and clear expectations for all your teams.
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