Redesigning the office for hybrid working

As hybrid working becomes increasingly embedded in most workplace cultures, it’s becoming clear that the office is now just one tool in the workplace ecosystem.

For it to remain relevant in a world where people have multiple workspace options, the office of the future will need to feel like a desirable destination. But what does that mean in practice?

We explored this topic in our latest HSM Advisory white paper on Redesigning the Office, which looked at what it takes to transform an office from a space where work is done, to a place where people can plug in to a sense of community, energy and culture.

The starting point for this kind of office environment is purpose: what is the office for? This will vary slightly for each organisation, but for most it will be a combination of four themes: driving sustainable high performance, helping people build social capital, making culture visible, and fostering wellbeing. Before looking at a single design proposal, it’s important to understand which combination and priority of these purposes is best aligned with your organisation – and indeed whether the same purpose will fit all offices and locations.

In another departure from past design strategies, it’s important to set design features to one side and think about the behaviours, feelings and senses you want the office to trigger, and explore the different behavioural, emotional and cognitive approaches that need to be prepared.

Once these foundations are in place, you can start imagining what your office will look and feel like. As you do so, the following questions will help ensure you’re addressing the most important issues.

How will people interact with this space? Where will they collaborate and do focused work? Where will they network and recuperate?

How will people interact with each other in this space? How will the space foster a sense of community and help people build social connections?

How do you want people to feel in this space? What aspects of the space will people be able to control? How will the space contribute to a positive people experience?

How will people experience work in this space? What will it feel like for those whose jobs lean into systems and processes? How will knowledge sharing, mentoring and learning happen?

Employees have an important role in finding the answers to these questions – after all, only they know which of the vast array of opportunities for social connection, culture and knowledge-sharing will meet the real needs of your organisation. And, as a bonus, the University of Exeter found that people are 32% more productive when they have input into designing their workspace.

While this process may seem far more intensive than investing in some brightly coloured bean bags and a lick of paint, they represent a vital step in a world where the emotional and cognitive effect of the office is now more important than the structure, layout or furniture.

Want to learn more as you plan the future of your office? Then download our white paper here.