As companies are grappling with what workstyle is best for their organizations and employees in the current work environment, some are opting for fully remote or “virtual first,” a select few are back in the office and, most, are going hybrid.
Due to the ‘great migration’—a wave of professionals relocating to secondary cities, particularly in the US—many companies adopted a hybrid working model as employees illustrated that many may not have to physically be in an office to be productive. Hybrid models offer flexibility, expands the available recruitable workforce and, potentially, adds significant value to a company.
However, some critical elements of being in the office are lost when working fully remote.
Positive Impacts of the In-Office Working Model
Fostering collaborative and spontaneous brainstorming sessions, which can lead to new innovations, ideas and products
Implementing policies, given the distributed workforces and the lack of fixed offices
Cultivating company-wide culture outside of the office; for some, the office is the physical embodiment of a company and its values
Improving mental health through social engagement with colleagues, which can motivate professionals to return to the office
To appease these factors professionals, some companies are adapting creative and flexible hybrid models to create optionality for employees.
Offering Flexibility in a Hybrid Model
When implementing a hybrid model—in a world where migration to secondary and tertiary cities has become the new norm—organizations can explore options, listed below.
Companies with large real estate footprints in distributed locations, including tertiary markets, can grant employees flexibility on which office location they go to. This flexibility would be based on convenience and proximity to key colleagues; though, this strategy may not optimize collaboration.
Opening new or regional offices to cater to employees located in certain markets and minimizing commutes for professionals. Anticipating the actual utilization of space, however, is nuanced.
Adapting a flexible portfolio approach to reduce fixed costs. Flexible approaches allow companies to test out different combinations and markets—a valuable insight-generation tool. For example: leasing managed offices on shorter terms in one or more locations; or moving the “core” office periodically to a different region to be closer to employees, a new twist on the idea of “management by walking around.”
Offering employees choices to go to any workspace near their homes. Based on an approved list—which employees can aggregate in some manner of self-selection—providing employees with the flexibility to go to an office and work with others nearby, or to choose an alternate location. Offering employees optionality can be empowering, demonstrating trust from the company that people can be productive regardless of where they choose to work.
While hybrid work is here to stay, the demand for office isn’t disappearing. A distributed workforce creates challenges as well as opportunities. The ability to adjust and adapt, at both portfolio- and employee-levels, is critical to succeeding with a hybrid model. Ultimately, however, whatever the strategy, one thing is certain: flexibility and optionality are key.
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