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Rebuilding Culture Through a Hybrid Office

Coming back to the office can be hard for employees.

After nearly 16 months of wearing yoga pants with suit jackets, simple things like finding pants that still fit and match your tops can be trying. Add on the commute, uncertainty around safety, and a shift on what work / life balance looks like, well, your employees are probably stressed.

The world has changed and so have your employees.

Great corporate culture is a key component to retaining great employees. 

A healthy culture requires trust and connection to thrive. It requires knowing your teammates and having a sense of belonging.

As much as we have been effective wearing the aforementioned yoga pants and meeting over video, some things have suffered … culture may have been one of them. 

So how can a hybrid work environment help build culture?

Retain great, happy employees by providing flexibility.

Many employees have moved, have a different agreement with their families on how work / life balance plays out, and may have found a sweet spot for getting work done which looks nothing like it did before. 

Don’t negotiate on results but be flexible on the means of getting the results done. Having hoteling stations in office where an employee can work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while someone else utilizes the space on Tuesday and Thursday creates efficiency and still allows an employee to share the afterschool pick up with their partner and still get their work done.

Provide activity based working for maximum efficiency.

If your company requires less desks by having a hybrid working model, you can provide specific spaces for brainstorming in small groups, focused work such as writing, designing, or coding. Working from home doesn’t always allow for an employee to be able to have time and space that is completely quiet or designed for the work they need to accomplish.

By providing activity-based workplace solutions, you empower your employees to deliver great results, on time and unencumber them from the hassles of trying to create a productive space at home while their cat not-so-subtly walks across their keyboard.

Creation of connection points.

People need people. As people return to office, ensure that your meeting spaces are open, allow for social distancing but still create social opportunities. People will most likely want to rebuild work friendships and create new friendships with the people who were hired over the pandemic. 

The in-between spaces matter. The soft seating that provides comfort, social distance, and the ability to chat about weekend plans while drinking coffee on a break matters more than we realize. The small moments of connection add up to create a fabric of unified culture. When you know someone, and understand what they care about, culture is deepened. 

Taking the time to ask your employees what they need in the post-pandemic era and creating a space that meets both their needs and your needs will be an important cornerstone piece of your culture as you come back to the office.

As Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!” 

Having an aligned, high-performance team of employees who have the flexibility to work from office, telecommute, and work from home while focused on the needs of your company will only produce great results.Want to start exploring what a hybrid model looks like in your context? Give us a call 1.888.230.2280 or pop us an email at [email protected] to talk about how we can help!


The Way We Work – Hybrid Offices

Much to the surprise of many of us, working from home didn’t kill us, work got done efficiently, and despite the pandemic, people felt a sense of accomplishment while telecommuting.
Many businesses did better than they expected in a complete work from home environment. The ability to communicate effectively, collaborate, and move the needle on results were unexpected outcomes for many business owners.
Innovation and new ideas on how to do old things in a new way surfaced.

Businesses adapted. Expectations changed.

The pandemic caused us to work in a new way and changed the shape of the office for the future.

Despite the many benefits of being able to work from home, there are several disadvantages that come from a team of telecommuting employees.

  • Informal connection points are missing. You aren’t able to get to know about your co-worker’s weekend plans, their summer garden, or their latest hobby … there is no office water cooler or morning coffee chatter. 
  • It is tiring to look at a screen for eight hours a day. Before the pandemic, “You’re on mute again, Stanley,” or “You’re frozen. Can you hear me? Are you there? Should we hop to Zoom?” were never uttered in a meeting. Now they are commonplace. Work can feel more tiresome and draining than it is after absorbing eight hours of blue light from a screen.
  • Small problems sometimes require larger focus than they should. Simple things that you could solve in passing now require a meeting. It is impossible to catch someone on their way out the door for lunch, texts, phone calls, emails, and meetings are required to accomplish things that could be done in a few moments if you were in the same space.

And yet, there are many benefits such as flexible work hours, work / life balance, less cost to the owner for operational expenses, no commute, less missing days due to appointments and sickness. 

What if you could have the best of both worlds?

You can, it is called hybrid working.

A hybrid office is a space that has been reconfigured to accommodate employees who both work from the office and telecommute. Spaces are changed to allow employees to safely come to the office and work in a space that is designed for that specific activity or have a touchdown desk that they can hotel at for a set amount of time or the whole day.

A hybrid office takes into consideration activity based work, team collaboration needs, and ensures there is flow as employees flex from working at home or in office.

Owners are able to adjust their footprint as less people are in the office at any given time and employees are able to still have those watercooler moments while also having days where yoga pants and suit coats are part of the dress code. It also builds connection points and creates opportunity for team building with employees who work in roles that don’t allow for telecommuting.

Check out some of our favorite hybrid office solutions!

Are you starting the journey towards creating a hybrid office? If so, check out our Four Steps to Creating a Hybrid Office and give us a call or reach out to [email protected] 

We would love to assist you as you transition to a hybrid working model!


Returning to Office: Four Steps to Creating Your Hybrid Office

Thinking about coming back to the office isn’t as simple as sending out and email and telling everyone to meet back at 8:00 am on Monday and then everyone comes back and pretends the last 15 months didn’t happen.

People have changed. How we work has shifted. Safety can sometimes feel out of reach. And nothing is the same.

Yet, we are still people, working together to deliver amazing results for our customers.

If you are like me, you are pulling together return to work plans and thinking about the best way to strategically make everything work, positively impact culture, and have a healthy, safe return to work.Easier said than done.

Most likely, your work from home strategy was haphazardly put together, “Everyone grab your laptops! We will email you about everything else.” And you send people home and figured it out. Perhaps it felt a bit crazy and out of control.

Returning to the office doesn’t have to be the same experience.

And what do you do with our open, collaborative, shared office? You know the one that you worked so hard to create over the last 5 years? There are no walls, open spaces and shared places are the theme of your workplace. And now, your workplace, as it is currently designed, doesn’t work.

Enter the Hybrid Office.

Use these four steps to gather information and make an informed decision about what kind of workplace your team needs and how to implement.

Step 1 – Find out what your people need.

Send out a survey to your teams and see what they are hoping for in a return to the office. Some questions around safety, space, and in/out of office need to be asked.

  • What does a safe return to the office look like for you?
  • What balance of working from home and working from the office are you hoping for in the new normal?
  • What areas of the office don’t seem like they work in a post-pandemic world?
  • What are you nervous about in the return to the office?
  • What did you miss working from home?

Step 2 – Find out what management needs.

Send out a similar survey to management, but get clear on a few additional pieces of information. 

  • What hindered productivity for your teams working from home?
  • What assisted productivity for your teams while working from home? 
  • What does the preferred future of working from home and from the office look like for you? For your teams?
  • What concerns you about coming back to the office?

Step 3 – Compile and look for themes.

With all the feedback compiled, there are most likely 4-6 themes that need to be dealt with and addressed. There is no doubt that the physical office space is one of the main ones, in fact it might be your biggest concern to tackle.

Some common themes we have discovered are:

  • Reconfiguration – what can we keep and reuse?
  • Collaboration – what does this look like in our culture post-pandemic?
  • IT – what do we need to add to allow for hybrid workers, collaboration, and communication?
  • New spaces – Phone booths, activity-based working pods, and touch down stations along with offices – what do we need where?
  • Reducing 

Creating new layouts of furniture, adding space and more ‘breathing room’ to open offices, and finding ways to keep connection and collaboration will most likely be high on your list of priorities.

Step 4 – Make a plan and execute.

Assign a champion for each of the things and have them make recommendations and implement solutions. It is always best to ask the team to participate and be part of the change. The people who made the suggestions or highlighted the needs most likely want to be part of the solution – don’t forget to ask them for assistance!

Call on experts in each of the areas to assist you as you put your plan together. 

We would love to help you as you plan your return to office and develop your workplace strategy for a model that aligns with your culture, company goals, and future needs. 

A few tweaks, some new pieces and products, and a lot of innovative ideas can breathe life back into your office as your team comes back. We would love to help you as you work towards a hybrid workplace or a full work from the office approach.

Whatever your post-pandemic office furniture needs are, we are confident we can find you a solution.