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.
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.