Is hybrid working the end of the physical office?
With the rise of flexible, hybrid, and remote working, the gig economy, and portfolio careers, will high-tech offices and connected buildings be essential in attracting and retaining talent in the future?
Since the pandemic, hybrid working has become the new normal, and candidates have begun to expect a certain amount of flexibility and allowances for remote working on a permanent basis.
In today’s connected world, the workplace is in theory, anywhere you can get a good Wi-Fi connection, be it at home, on a train, or in a coffee shop.
Granted, businesses have always and will always look for ways of improving productivity; today’s workforce now expects this too. Increasingly, today’s candidates are choosing to work for an employer who can afford them a better work-life balance and a flexible working experience.
A physical office is no longer an operational necessity
The office of today is a manifestation of an organisation’s brand and culture, providing a social environment for creativity, problem-solving and, developing of new ideas and resources. Everyone got used to spending more time at home during the pandemic and enjoyed the work/life balance it provided (no commute, being able to stay on top of house chores during breaks, enjoying non-Tupperware lunches, setting the temperature to their exact preference without “air con wars”) and now don’t want to return to traditional ways of working.
The most innovative workplaces give employees access to a diverse mix of spaces with options for virtual and face-to-face interactions, blending socialising and learning. Human connectivity is important, so providing spaces to collaborate will always be invaluable.
The fluid workspace allows staff to build cross-departmental social networks, fostering spontaneous conversations which encourage constant innovation and improvement.
However, there is a balance between encouraging collaboration and giving employees the space to focus effectively without distraction or interruption. The rise of work from home means we can be more productive without the typical office distractions. However, long periods of self-isolation can be detrimental, too, so it’s important for employers to check in with their team and ask if anything more can be done to ensure they feel supported.
Effective workplaces must support both individual and group work. And more often than not, trying to place the two side by side can be counterproductive.
Technological freedom is now the norm
With many businesses having already transitioned to a hybrid or fully remote workforce, technology has proved vital in the measurement of outputs.
Everyone leaves a digital trace, so it is easy for businesses to see exactly what people have accomplished, putting an end to the idea of presenteeism equalling productivity.
But tech alone is not enough to guarantee a successful transition. Businesses need to make sure they have the right skills, create the right culture and implement the right processes for this hybrid way of working to be sustainable.
As a result, the office has evolved to become a place to present an organisation’s values, strategies, goals and protocols, a physical embodiment of the company’s culture. A place to go to for a sense of belonging, teamwork, problem-solving, inspiration, collaboration or calibration.
The high street, hospitality and leisure sectors are continuously evolving to keep up with changing consumer behaviour, striving to provide an amazing customer experience.
Businesses need to evolve their employee experience at a similar pace, providing benefits that aim to retain staff in a competitive jobs market. Not only offering a functional blend of physical and remote working practices as standard,, but opportunities for upskilling and career development. After all attracting and retaining a diverse range of talent in the future is a priority for all businesses.