After more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic and a widespread shift toward remote work, it’s clear that the post-pandemic future of work will be a hybrid model, offering employees the flexibility to work from home or the workplace when they need to.
We asked more than 800 global workplace leaders their thoughts on hybrid work. 81% of those at companies where most can work from home said their teams will move to a hybrid model in the next six months. 69% of those leaders said the shift has been driven by employees.
While a work model that offers employees different environments for different types of work and circumstances feels intuitive and natural, it represents a challenge for leadership and workplace technology teams in particular. There are a multitude of considerations when designing a workplace tech stack for a hybrid model. IT and facilities leaders need to balance ongoing health and safety concerns with the need for collaborative spaces that foster connection.
Here are three priorities that workplace leaders should keep in mind as they put systems into place to make hybrid work a reality.
Redesign the physical workplace—and the tech that supports it
With fewer people on-site each day, companies need to be thoughtful about how to use their space. For many, that will mean moving away from traditional seating with a permanent desk assigned to each employee, and instead, embracing a hot desking model. 45% of businesses who opt for the hybrid model plan a mixed approach: using both permanent desks and open desks available for hot desking.
Before the pandemic, claiming a desk for the day was as simple as arriving early enough to snag a seat in your favorite part of the office. But as the workplace becomes a center of collaboration and in-person interaction, it’s now critical that colleagues coordinate with each other to ensure they’re working from the office at the same time and are seated together. This daily coordination requires time and patience, but companies can make it easier to compare schedules, invite others, and reserve desks by implementing solutions that are designed to solve these challenges.
Envoy Desks was built to make the process of desk scheduling as simple as possible for both employees and workplace admins. It provides access to key information about who’s working from the office and when, all in one flow, to help teams manage schedules and coordinate time spent in-person.
Prioritize the health and safety of teams while welcoming them back into the office
A hurdle many companies face today is enticing employees back to the workplace. Concerns about health and safety at work remain high: 66% of people worry about returning on-site. To encourage employees to return, leaders need to consider their psychological safety as well as physical.
This starts with investing in tech that keeps people safe. Space management tools can track workplace density and help ensure social distancing. These tools also provide analytics that monitor how employees use the workplace. Companies can use this information to optimize their space for health and safety.
Tools that enable hands-free experiences are more commonplace. Touchless sign-in, access control, and infrared temperature screenings are a few examples. Environmental, health, and safety (EHS) management software can help companies record workplace-related accidents, improve prevention strategies, and follow OSHA regulations.
These technologies play a big role in ensuring employees feel safe in the workplace. To go one step further, companies should couple these technologies with practices like clearly marked collaboration areas and safety-focused workplace policies.
Create a data-driven workplace
It’s imperative that companies collect and study as much data as they can to guide their planning — rather than relying on gut instinct. From conducting employee pulse checks to analyzing aggregated, anonymized data on how often employees are coming into the office, each of these inputs provides valuable insight into space planning and policy setting.
For example, data on how many people plan to work on-site each day can help workplace admins right-size the office layout, minimize wasted space, and provide the right amount of resources for on-site employees, like snacks and beverages. Real-time employee sign-in data can help teams manage how many people are in the space and enforce capacity limits.
This kind of data-driven decision-making will be critical to rebuilding an office model that works for everyone and offers employees the right resources to do their jobs effectively.
Work, and the technology that enables it, is always changing. But no one could have predicted how fast workplace processes would have to change when the pandemic hit. The rapid shift to a hybrid model has meant that many workplace teams are still navigating what it will look like, even as people start to come back to the office.
The most successful companies will be the ones that invest in an employee experience that exceeds expectations. The workplace will need to earn its place in employees’ work lives and implementing the right tech will be one way to do it.