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Hybrid Workplace: How to Equip Your Workplace for a Safe Transition

Posted By:

Office Screens UK

Date:

13/07/2021

Reading Time:

11 Mins

Hybrid Workplace: How to Equip Your Workplace for a Safe Transition

Hybrid working, where employees split their time between remote and in-office working, has been around for a while, with some employers here in the UK and elsewhere in the world offering flexible working options for their staff. However, since the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic, the number of companies offering permanent hybrid working as an option for their workforce has increased dramatically.

The hybrid working revolution has been a long time coming. The idea of the 8-hour workday, (credited to Welsh textile mill owner and social reformer Robert Owen in the early 19th century) has typically been the template for our typical working hours; but realistically, many of us have been spending far longer at our desks than this as we struggle to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of a fast-paced working world. However, with high-speed internet and high-tech gadgets now widely available in homes across the country, does putting in long hours stuck behind a desk at the office really make sense for a modern workforce?

The arrival of the pandemic forced both employers and employees to take a different approach to their working days. At first, there was a lot of insecurity around whether productivity levels would drop with staff working remotely full time; but, in fact, many companies have actually seen productivity levels rise while overhead costs are falling. This is due to a variety of factors, including reduced time wasted through commuting, raised morale as employees feel they have a better ‘work-life’ balance and heavy savings in rented office space, often in expensive city centres. As a result, some are choosing to relinquish their large, centrally-located office floors in favour of smaller, ‘hot-desking’ spaces where they can set up flexible working, staggering their staff ‘in’ days and allowing more remote options. This is the modern hybrid workplace.


1. Is hybrid working likely to become more common?

According to the Work Trend Index survey, conducted by Edelman Data x Intelligence in January 2021, 66% of leaders say their business is considering redesigning their office spaces for hybrid working, in response to a massive 73% of employees saying they want to retain flexible working options after the pandemic is over. Remote job postings on LinkedIn increased more than five times during the pandemic as companies realised they could widen their search net, finding skilled candidates that were a good fit for their business even if they didn’t live close enough to commute. It’s clear that the changes made during the height of the pandemic have forced businesses the world over to rethink how they define what they expect of their employees.

“This shift is likely to stick, and it’s good for democratising access to opportunity. Companies in major cities can hire talent from underrepresented groups that may not have the means or desire to move to a big city. And in smaller cities, companies will now have access to talent that may have a different set of skills than they had before.” - Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist at LinkedIn

2. How do you create a hybrid workplace?

When planning your hybrid workplace, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • Strategy - Firstly, you need to think about what your business needs to function properly, and speak to your employees about their needs and wishes. Then you can collate all that information into a strategy that not only meets the needs of your business, but also of your workforce.
  • Organisation - How will your company actually function as a hybrid environment? Will you let employees make their own schedules, or will you mandate different departments or teams work the same ‘in-house’ days? If all your staff came in on the same day, would there be enough space for them? You need to plan ahead to ensure that everybody knows what they can/cannot do.
  • Infrastructure - If your business is moving from full-time ‘in-house’ to hybrid working, do you have the digital infrastructure in place to support online meetings and digital communication? Do you require all employees to work from an office-provided laptop? Do you have the right antivirus software in place to protect your networks even remotely?
  • Set Up - It’s not only digital set up you need to think about. How will you tailor your physical office space to make it a safe environment for your staff, as well as a space that’s welcoming and conducive to productive solo or collaborative working?
3. How to design a safe office environment? 

For the time being, employee safety is still a priority consideration when setting up a hybrid (or regular) office environment. While some social distancing measures are expected to be no longer enforceable by law, health authorities strongly suggest that such measures remain in place to protect staff and customers for the foreseeable future.

There are two main things to consider when setting up a safe hybrid office.

Layout

Some office spaces are already set up with cubicles, but many modern offices are open plan and in these locations, it can be difficult to offer safe spaces where people from different households can work in close proximity while remaining socially distant. Sneeze screens and guards can be effective tools for keeping employees separated while maintaining the light, bright and sociable feel of a flexible workspace. 

It’s also important to think about how you will direct the flow of traffic around your office to prevent crowds in high-traffic areas. Floor stickers and queue barriers can help you inform people of how to move safely around your workplace while preserving a safe 2m distance.

For an example of how Perspex® social distancing desk dividers can be used to set up a hybrid office, check out our blog Perspex Desk Screens For Hot Desking, or to learn more about the kinds of screens available for setting up hybrid working spaces, our Office Screens Buyers Guide offers a comprehensive look at all the different kinds of office screens and partitions available.

Clear Sneeze Screen Retractable Counter Guard

Clear Sneeze Screen Retractable Counter Guard

ACHOO® Crystal Clear Modular Desk Screens 4 Bay Workstation Dividers

ACHOO® Crystal Clear Modular Desk Screens 4 Bay Workstation Dividers



4. Personnel

It’s just as important to think about how your employees work as it is to furnish a space correctly. Businesses where staff work as individuals on solo projects will find hybrid working a much simpler matter than those which rely on collaborative working.

If your company is divided into teams or departments, designing a workflow schedule for hybrid working where team members are present in the office on the same days can drastically improve collaboration efforts and make it easier for them to communicate about projects.

Creating a comprehensive work calendar with details about different rotas and schedules can be a good way to keep track of your staff working hours and monitor work ‘bubbles’ (teams of people who work closely together) if any member of staff tests positive for Coronavirus.

Of course, you also need to remember to provide your staff with adequate safety measures such as hand sanitiser stations, reminders to wear face masks and to keep their distance from others wherever possible, while such measures are deemed to be effective at preventing outbreaks of COVID in offices.

5. Conclusion

Ultimately, it appears that hybrid working is here to stay, whether the pandemic forces us back into full-time remote working or not. With companies around the world choosing to update their antiquated policies about flexible working, ensuring your business is ready to adapt to this changing environment is essential. 

To discuss how to set up your office for hybrid working and what products you might need, including our range of social distancing screens, please reach out to our expert team who will be happy to help. You can get in touch via our Contact Us page, or call us on 01234 676767.

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