We don’t need to rehash the impact the pandemic has had on work life.
Offices across the country and around the world shut down suddenly, and everyone was forced to adjust on the fly. Many businesses are still adjusting more than 18 months later.
At Service Direct, we were in a similar position. We made the switch to fully remote work. But as vaccines became available and cases started dropping, we were confronted with the difficult decision of whether we would stay remote or return to the office.
In the end, we decided to do both. The hybrid workplace, as it is quickly becoming known, is a blend of remote and in-person work that has the potential to offer many great benefits. If you are thinking about implementing this structure in your business, we’d like to share some tips that may help you get started.
A total rethink
Once you decide that a hybrid workplace is the right future for your organization, you’ll need to throw out pretty much everything you know about how your office operates. With a significant portion of the workforce staying at home most days, you won’t need the same type of setup, and you probably won’t need as much space, either.
The key here is to think about how the office will be used and then design the space to suit those needs. For example, you may only need a few traditional desks if most workers opt to stay home when they have no-meeting work day or other events to work around. Rather than assigning a dedicated desk to each member of your team, it’s likely that you’ll want to create a few generic workstations that can be reserved by individuals as needed.
If you’re cutting back on the number of desks you have available, you may want to ramp up available spaces for meetings and conferences. This will become the most common use for your office space, as people will decide to come in when they want to work face-to-face with others.
Have plenty of conversations
While we think the generalization of more shared workspaces and fewer traditional desks will hold true for most organizations, the best way to identify your needs is to ask.
Talk with as many members of your team as possible to determine how they plan to use the office in this new vision of the future. Are they going to work from home most days? What is it that will draw them into the office? If your team is large enough, you may want to create a formal survey that can be sent out to collect data. For smaller groups, simply having some meetings to talk it over might be enough.
Set clear expectations
Perhaps the most important thing you can do during the transition process is to clearly outline what’s expected from your employees and what is allowed under the hybrid model. Clarity and formal expectations will help prevent disputes from popping up later.
Of course, your hybrid office policy will have to be tailored to your organization, but here are some examples of rules you can put in place to get everyone on the same page.
- There is no requirement for in-office time. Employees are free to work remotely or in-person at their discretion.
- Desks in the office need to be reserved in advance so that everyone has a place to work when they arrive.
- Any in-office work that will be done outside of traditional office hours needs to be coordinated with the office manager.
The goal of your office policy should be to avoid any frustrating conflicts or misunderstandings. Think through the way your office will be used and do your best to foresee as many potential complications as possible.
A continued focus on safety
While the ability to return to the office has become a reality for many people in many locations, the pandemic has not yet been put to rest. With that in mind, it’s important to continue to focus on the health and well-being of everyone involved with your organization, from employees to clients and beyond. Using office space wisely while paying attention to recommendations from local and national health organizations is critical at this juncture.
Good luck with your transition to a hybrid workplace and stay safe!
Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He has 15+ years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.