Now hybrid working has become a norm – even something employees expect – it’s worth remembering how it used to be.
Pre-pandemic, for example, 60% of workers in India told a survey that their work-life balance rated from average to terrible. It’s a tale that could have been told anywhere in the world.
Today’s more worker-centric conditions are now giving facilities managers and office managers a great opportunity to put things right.
Organisations around the world are thinking hard about their workspace and creating a better employee experience. It makes economic sense to ensure desks and meeting rooms are fully utilised, and wellbeing is thankfully high on the agenda too.
Workers are more demanding about their working conditions, and hanging onto the best talent depends on giving them a good experience that promotes wellness and productivity every time they come into the office.
Is the workplace still evolving?
Absolutely – and it will continue to change as new working patterns become business as usual. Persuading workers to come into the office is more difficult than before: a global survey by AWA of 80,000 employees found they’re in the office on average just1.4 days a week.
Workplace leaders are responding by making their offices more attractive places to be, assessing the types of space they provide to make sure they fit work today. Some firms are downsizing; others are reconfiguring space to increase flexibility and collaboration.
Employers are also being encouraged to be empathetic managers – something that was once rare.
Gartner ® states: “HR leaders must create a new, human-centric model that is fit for the hybrid environment by designing work around employee-driven flexibility, intentional collaboration and empathy-based management.”1
So what’s next in the workplace?
Every organisation looks at hybrid success differently, but most agree that our definition of the office and what we do there will keep on changing.
Deloitte says: “Increasingly, offices will be reserved for face-to-face interactions and team-based activities, and enhancing collaboration and innovation, while employees would continue to work remotely for more individualized tasks and assignments.”
That seems logical – but it could quickly become chaotic if not organised properly. The Future of Work report by AT&T shows hybrid working will be the default by 2024 – but 72% of businesses still do not have a detailed strategy.
A recipe for chaos?
Industry champion Luis De Souza, CEO of NFS Technology, said: “It’s genuinely worrying that many organisations are implementing hybrid working without having a strategy in place.
“In this hybrid world, ad hoc space utilisation can create poor use of space and fuel a disappointing employee experience that affects productivity, wellbeing and talent retention.”
Companies who are making the easiest transition are those who support their agile working practices with workplace technology. Their software also captures data on how desks and meeting rooms are really being used.
“Analysing detailed information in real time supports effective planning decisions. These create an efficient, cost-effective working environment that flexes as the requirements of the company and employees change,” said Luis
4 benefits of a hybrid working strategy with data support
- Improved space utilisation
- A better experience for employees, encouraging collaboration, productivity and wellbeing
- Rationalised costs for real estate, with opportunities for downsizing or repurposing space
- Better productivity, reduced admin.
The workplace leader’s technology toolkit for hybrid working
Workspace management technology such as Rendezvous by NFS has become an ecosystem that enriches any working environment. Elements include:
• Desk/meeting space booking – workers locate and book workspace via a mobile app, and can check in and out with touch-free QR codes.
• Meeting room scheduling – staff use the app to arrange a meeting quickly even across multiple locations. In the same transaction they can book space and equipment, invite attendees and add catering, parking etc. Changes to the schedule are notified to everyone automatically.
• Sensors – integrated with the room and desk scheduling software sensors provide data on utilisation, and can identify traffic flow, possible congestion and irregular airflow.
• Reverse hoteling – fixed desks are converted automatically into hot desks when their dedicat4ed users don’t need them.
• Colleague location – workers discover where and when their project colleagues are in the office by using the easy-to-view app.
• Visitor management – improved entry into buildings and areas, with instant reporting for health, safety and security for both visitors and staff. Digital signage helps employees and visitors find their meeting room or desk.
• Integrated technologies – these include desk panels for automated check in and out; in-room panels where meeting attendees can make changes and place orders without leaving the room.
Success stories from around the globe
Organisations around the world are reaping the rewards of workspace management technology. Here are just 4 examples:
- A leading financial services company consolidated two buildings into one, saving $500,000 annually, after utilisation data provided a clear picture of how the space was being used. Source: CBRE Global Occupancy Insights
- Global legal firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner gave 25 offices great control of meeting rooms across the whole estate, and gained detailed data on usage.
- A major global financial firm thought it had a small meeting room shortage. Data capture showed some small meeting rooms were booked for full days but used for just 2 hours. Tackling this released over 40% of previously booked blocked space.
- A US financial organisation wanted to track how different teams used desks on different days, but many people were not checking in and out. Desk panels automated the process, making the employee experience better.
Luis De Souza said: “PWC said ‘digital transformation is about people’, and our workplace industry is now highly driven by the needs and desires of workers.”
“Organisations now understand how their new hybrid workplaces must operate, and are designing them to get good collaboration, wellness, productivity and talent retention.”
“Leading firms show that the secret of success is underpinning every aspect of the workplace with supportive technology that captures actionable data.”
“Hybrid working will remain a hot topic for a long time yet. As a technology company, we are sure today’s new-look workforce can only thrive when technology is put at its fingertips – and we’ll continue to share practical advice gained from direct experience of what works for our clients.”
Discover more about using data to enhance efficiency and the employee experience: Download the Ultimate Guide to Data Utilization
Gartner ®, 2021. “Redesigning Work for the Hybrid World: Opportunities for Knowledge Workers.” GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission.