The World has changed
Is it time we stopped trying to get back to normal? We aren’t even post-pandemic yet – and things have changed so dramatically in the last two years that, even if we were, it seems impossible that we could pick up where we left off.
Many companies are seeing the benefits of hybrid working in terms of lower overheads and highly motivated staff. But there’s no doubt that some workplace activities, such as collaboration on projects, brainstorming, personal coaching, and mutual support, are more effective when everyone gets together. So how do you tempt your staff to set the alarm a little earlier and join the commute to mix with others in the office once again?
Embrace change & the rewards will come
The short answer is to use your imagination. We’ve all read about ‘cool’ offices with in-house yoga and wall-to-wall ping-pong tables, but hipster trappings aren’t the key to this exciting new world. In fact, while office design and services can be hugely helpful, they don’t have to be expensive – or make your premises look like a Brooklyn design studio.
A large table where people can eat lunch together instead of ‘al desko’ is a fine start, because it reminds them how enjoyable it is to sit down for a chat. Change the dynamic by getting interesting food from a local caterer every now and again. A nice meal and good company make an invigorating change from fridge leftovers and another scroll through social media at your kitchen table.
Lighting for atmosphere
Better lighting helps create an atmosphere that feels softer and more welcoming. And removing individual desks and cubicles is another important step towards realising the hybrid model, so people get used to a more fluid, team-based approach. Flexible meeting rooms and spaces for socialising also provide experiences you can’t get at home.
New ways to meet
You can truly embrace the hybrid workplace with new video conferencing technology. For example, Google has introduced ‘campfire’ meeting rooms, where in-person attendees sit in a circle, intermingled with video displays of people who are dialling in. Even if you don’t go this far, it’s worth investing in high quality microphones and speakers to eliminate that familiar dislocation effect when virtual participants never quite feel like they’re in the meeting.
Make use of available space
If you have outdoor space, think about whether you can you use it better. Not necessarily for office herb gardens and beehives (although these do look wonderful on your website!) but for everyday activities such as meetings and solo working. Maybe all you need to provide is suitable shade and outdoor furniture.
Keep track of the pulse of your people
And it’s not all about the physical environment. Your working culture probably has to change too. For example, many companies are conducting ‘stay’ as well as exit interviews, to find out what makes employees want to stick with the company – or what improvements would convince them.
Being committed pays off
Your peers are agreeing collective time management practices, for example insisting on a time cushion between Zoom meetings, or banning formal meetings on specific days. However, there’s no doubt that policies like these are easy to formulate but hard to implement, so employers need to be truly committed to change.
Get in touch
If you want to explore how your organisation can make the office a more productive place for all your employees, get in touch. We’ve got lots of ideas based on years of experience.