The role of the office is changing. The rise of hybrid working has transformed the office from a hub of nine-to-five productivity into something closer to a community space: a place where employees want to be, not a place they have to be.
80% of organizations now offer flexible working, and these days it’s not about whether or not people come to the office; it’s about how they spend their time once they’re there. This new type of workday doesn’t revolve solely around where or when work gets done but focuses on the quality of work and employee satisfaction. For organizations, the benefits of this are clear: autonomous, community-centric offices increase autonomy, happiness, and productivity, all while expanding output.
The office must transform into a space that accommodates employee needs and working habits while encouraging freedom and well-being. So, what kind of workplace are people looking for amid the era of hybrid work?
A place that boosts well-being
With the rise of flexible and hybrid working, the office doesn't have the same role in an employee's life as it once did. Today, hybrid working lets individuals choose whether to come into the office or not. When people come to the office, they intentionally seek out spaces that can inspire and facilitate productivity.
To attract people back to work in person, it's no longer enough to just have an office; organizations need to ensure that their spaces, activities, and policies actively attract people to come into work. Such initiatives may include social events, in-office gyms, or nutritious and tasty lunches.
The modern office must meet all employee needs and make adjustments when needed. Some basic needs must be met, such as good lighting, air quality, and comfortable places to work. But just meeting these needs is not enough to justify the worth of the office; changes need to be continually made based on employee preferences. Creating responsive feedback loops allows for continuous input from employees on what is working for them and how existing facilities might be missing the mark.
Organizations must also ensure they are sufficing their employees' more abstract needs. Do workers feel connected to their colleagues in the office? Do the spaces facilitate real connection and collaboration? To foster a sense of community and autonomy, start by understanding how teams work together and what the office can do to support that collaboration.
An authentic community
Modern workers expect the office to be a place where communities are developed and fostered, not just a space where they come to clock in and clock out. Businesses need to connect and support all employees, even those with different working preferences. Start by transforming the office into a space that isn’t solely dedicated to working but is based around socialization and team building.
Moments of authentic connection can be easily encouraged by physical spaces: from talks by the coffee machine to chats over lunch. It’s critical to create a range of spaces—such as breakout rooms and relaxing areas—that foster these kinds of social connections. The “meeting after the meeting” is one clear example of a spontaneous but crucial in-person interaction; some even suggest that this can be more productive than the meeting itself.
Of course, on a busy work day, these social interactions might be difficult to arrange authentically. In these cases, digital tools are vital in building communities where workers can always know when their colleagues are free and available in the office.
Remember that a work community doesn’t have to exist solely in a physical location. Inherently, some people may prefer working from home more than others. Organizations can use online events, networking tools, and out-of-office events to create a broad network of locations that support their employees no matter where they are.
A flexible workplace
Flexible working has become the norm for many workplaces, and as a result, employees have greater autonomy over when and where they work. This kind of work increases work output, but it can be difficult for managers to take a step back and relinquish the level of oversight they might be used to. Granting such autonomy is vital in creating a productive office space since too much hands-on management can increase employee anxiety, disengagement, and even burnout.
Adjusting your office space and layout is a simple way to encourage autonomy without putting too much pressure on workers. Provide spaces where individuals can work alone, such as individual work pods and classic desks, to allow for focus time and workplace privacy. Similarly, casual areas, like sofa areas, can boost a sense of freedom and encourage teams to socialize as they work. But all this depends on the needs of your team. Be sure to ask employees what kind of spaces they prefer and modify the office around that input.
Technology can be extremely useful as you encourage employees to use the office in a way that promotes autonomy. These might be accessibility-focused tools, such as digital whiteboards or workday managers, that can help people save time, collaborate easier, and reduce admin tasks. Technology allows teams to interact more easily with their spaces while having the ease and access to focus on their most important tasks.
A future-proof office
The role of the office has changed, but that doesn't mean it still isn't essential: physical workplaces still play a critical role even amid hybrid and flexible working. Offices provide a space dedicated to meeting employee needs in ways they just can't get when working remotely. In-person working facilitates genuine connection and empowers teams by bringing them together. Understanding and adapting to the changing role of the office will benefit employers and employees alike in 2022 and beyond.
With a variety of digital tools to facilitate a new kind of workday, Mapiq helps your employees get the most value out of their office space. By arranging their schedules and accessing detailed maps of their spaces, workers can reduce time and enjoy everything the office has to offer. Mapiq makes connection convenient and productive by giving teams the power to collaborate and arrange meetings at the click of a button. With our range of tools, you can reinvigorate your office space by giving your colleagues the control they need for a more meaningful day at work.
Learn how Mapiq can help your organization create more flexible, fulfilling workspaces.