The impact of COVID-19 not only influences the way in which organisations adapt and develop their offices or the ways in which people do the same for their home working environments, it also impacts the fundamental way they integrate between them and work and communicate too.
What initially created a ‘make do and mend’ mentality of temporary signs and gaffer tape, the longer-term picture requires redesigning in practice, which in essence requires us to adapt to the changing needs of our people and places (and whatever restrictions are in place) but development of our vision to do this in a way that’s considered and on purpose. Because there are no short fixes that will plaster over the challenge.
Why ‘redesign in practice’
As quickly as lockdown restrictions impacted the workplace, adaptation took place. Businesses were forced to pivot, to digitize, to work remotely and manage a home/life balance none of us were prepared for.
This has not come without its challenges. But there have also been signs of opportunity, permanent change and reimagining what people need.
How we redesign in practice won’t just lead us to a well-equipped environment to working under the curve, but also reimagine how work spaces can support people and their interactions in a work setting in future.
Catering for the uncertainty today and visualising how a hybrid model of in-office and remote working will look tomorrow is a significant challenge, but one that many organisations are already getting to grips with.
In a recent survey, three-quarters of employees who had transitioned to or remained remote during COVID-19 say they are at least as productive in performing their individual tasks as they were before and around half said they are at least as productive on collaborative tasks. Imagine what could be possible if organisations had time to prepare for remote work, or ways to integrate it better?
A survey in May showed that 55% of US workers want a mixture of home and office working and in the UK, employers expect the proportion of regular home workers to double from 18% pre-pandemic to 37% post-pandemic.
Purposefully managing a hybrid working environment to engage employees, support their well-being and productivity, requires a shift in thinking and the way in which we redesign the working environment in practice for the future.
Hybrid work typically includes more freedom around when to work as well as where. More autonomy to fit work around the rest of employees’ lives rather than structure around a working week and office space.
Many organisations have benefitted from some structures such as agreeing certain days which are remote versus in-office, to ensure team-building and collaborative opportunities are met.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) believes that most companies will retain physical offices, but it’s the reimagining how these spaces best serve the changing needs of businesses and its people which will be key.
There have been warnings however on the issues of inequality, both racially and gender specific – in terms of ability to work at home and whether this is socioeconomically equal and from a gender perspective the additional roles and responsibilities often required of parents and how this would influence a hybrid working model.
On a more individual basis, people may require more support to adapt to the changing technological and social skills required from a hybrid model as well as the skills needed to remain productive in a less structured working pattern.
The divisions between the in-crowd and the at-home crowd have been discussed as a two-tier workforce and many argue the importance of engaging staff, using data and experimenting with what works before implementing a permanent solution.
How can we help?
First, we improvised, now we must adapt! We’re working with clients to address many aspects of redesign in practice looking at:
- Technology & Processes
- Emotion & Experience
- Space & Culture
You can contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can work with you.