The future of work lies in a hybrid workspace. However, the concept and particularities of such a model are still unclear and open to interpretation. When you hear the term hybrid what is the instant picture that forms in your mind? A combination of remote and in-office work? Or a combination of the digital and the physical platforms for working? Or a more architectural notion of an integrated workspace with fewer boundaries and a transparent working system?
In today’s world, the hybrid model as a futuristic idea incorporates all the positive changes to our workplaces that we have been working towards along with the long-term changes brought about by the pandemic. However, the shift to a hybrid workspace needs vision and initiative, especially by those who claim to understand their customers, their employees and most importantly their products. Most companies calling their employees back to office from remote work are feeling the need to revamp their office spaces. Within a year of remote work and hybridisation of work culture, most office spaces have already turned archaic and dysfunctional.
Deciding the hybrid will be hard and a shift involving great risk factors. It is also a process involving crucial decision-making at every step- who comes to office and how often and who doesn’t? Who can shift how much of their work to digital platform? What is ethical and unethical in the new context? If worked out properly, the model has the potential to revolutionise the concept of work but if it doesn’t hit the bull’s eye, it can very well cause extensive damage to the existing culture, collaboration and innovation.
How to master a hybrid workspace?
If the thought of this impending change in working culture is intimidating you, we suggest taking small steps. It is not easy for you; it is not easy for the most experienced and efficient of the companies out there. Architects, designers, behavioural scientists and of course executives have all come together to brainstorm the principles of a hybrid workspace and here they are:
Go for “phygital”- Why get stuck in the dilemma of digital or physical when you can combine the two and create a phygital working space? In a hybrid working system, all processes need to be modified to ensure equal participation and contribution by both- those physically present and those working remotely. This calls for architectural, technological as well as structural change to the functioning of the office.
Switch the private to public and vice-versa- Hybrid work culture requires us to switch our private and public spaces. For the longest time we have seen the opening up of individual working spaces while those built for collaborative and team work were closed and private. Contrary to that, the hybrid work culture would need the opening up of spaces like conference halls and meeting places for collaborative work to enable free association. At the same time individual office spaces would need to close in to provide the privacy and intimacy that people need to focus on work and be creative.
Add fluidity to your design- Office spaces no longer need to be one inspiring discipline and hard-work and designed accordingly to serve a single purpose. As office activities diversity, office spaces need to be fluid to meet all upcoming needs at different occasions, or, be designed in ways that they serve multiple purposes at the same time!
The see-saw of “me” and “we”-While working from office took away privacy from work, work from home was too much of a “me” time. Both extremes are harmful to productivity. A right balance between “we” time and “me” time is necessary to ensure collaboration but also individual contribution. Design a workplace that is a comfortable mix of solitary working pods and collaborative and interactive coffee house inspired working halls.