Hybrid working models: why an office at all?

Hybrid working models: why an office at all?

The transition to the hybrid world of work raises questions. […]

Office space, its design and the concepts that underlie it contribute significantly to corporate culture, employee satisfaction and general productivity. What exactly the ideal hybrid office will look like, however, has yet to be seen. What is certain is that it must be a place where you get something that is not possible at home.

An often little-noticed fact when working from the home office, or remote and hybrid work is that each workplace is individual:

  • Family members, children, roommates, visitors or neighbors can be a constant distraction for some employees. For you, an office can provide an oasis where you can work in peace and without interruption.
  • Some remote workers – especially in rural areas – may have insufficient Internet speeds. An office usually offers high-speed fiber-optic access to the Internet.
  • Working from home can make employees feel cut off, isolated, insecure and depressed. Occasional visits to the office can work wonders.
  • The home office is rarely a suitable place for confidential meetings. Restaurants and cafés are also not necessarily ideal – especially when sensitive topics such as mergers, intellectual property, trade secrets and competition analyses are discussed. A physical office can provide a professional, well-equipped and acoustically secured room for important meetings.

A central office can potentially do all this – even if there is not a separate room available for each employee. The office of the future is primarily a social, communicative and collaborative space that satisfies the psychological need of employees to feel connected. It is also a place where managers, supervisors, department heads and team leaders can have sensitive conversations with their employees. And it is a central hub that houses shared devices and other resources.

If companies resume their office work and reduce their office space in the process, this is the best opportunity to redesign the physical office as a whole – as well as the IT infrastructure.

One way to approach the hybrid workplace of the future is through proven models of meeting places.

The coffee house model

The original coworking space was created in the middle of the 17th century in London in the form of public coffee houses. In these institutions, businessmen, journalists and politicians met to read, debate and gossip.

In terms of hybrid working, this model means offering a simple, optional coworking space only for employees. This is equipped with the most necessary basics: tables, chairs, Internet connection – and coffee.

The Gentlemans Club Model

When the enthusiasm for coffee houses waned in the middle of the 18th century, hundreds of private social clubs were founded in London. These functioned essentially like coffee houses and were only accessible to members – but offered significantly more “services”: bars, libraries, games rooms, reading rooms, fitness centers, social rooms and even guest rooms for overnight stays.

The hybrid office version of this model is a coworking space with social rooms, a games room, food and drinks, fitness centers, daycare centers and – most importantly – high-speed network, video conference rooms, high-quality printers and other high-tech office equipment that is too large and too expensive for the home office.

Even in the gentlemen’s club model, the office primarily functions as a space for social interaction, meetings and collaboration.

The hotel model

In the hotel model, employees reserve workplaces or conference rooms in advance. The employees with reservations check in and out – a process that blocks or releases the reserved room. This process is usually controlled by digital tools that have been specially developed for the reservation of resources.

With this model, companies can limit the office space provided and at the same time provide equal – but only occasional – access to all employees. As a rule, the office space in this model is designed in such a way that not all employees can be accommodated at the same time.

Regardless of which model companies choose: if it is implemented correctly, the hybrid office of the future will not only reduce costs, but also increase the work flexibility of employees and give them all the tools they need for their success.

This article is based on an article from our US sister publication Computerworld.

*Mike Elgan writes as a columnist for our US sister publication Computerworld and other tech portals.

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