More and more businesses are moving away from dedicated office spaces and moving to a hybrid workplace model.
COVID has taught us the traditional office model is not required for workers and businesses to operate effectively. From the nomad office, to virtual HQs, to hyper flexible models, to the traditional office first approach, the hybrid workplace has many different models which are designed to achieve different business objectives. Perhaps the organisation needs to better adhere to public health guidelines, human resource teams want to stagger work shifts and reduce office capacity, maybe the finance manager has crunched the numbers and realised the business can create significant savings on real estate costs, or maybe management has decided to take a new approach and offer employees the flexibility of choosing if, and when, they come into the office.
Whatever the reason, the important factor is that businesses understand the why behind their chosen workplace model so that their objectives are achieved.
The Nomad Office
The nomad workplace model is designed for digital nomads - those that don’t have a dedicated office but need a space to work from that is more conducive than their kitchen table, local coffee shop or public library. With the nomad workplace model, either hot desking or desk hoteling would be used.
Hot desking is a concept which optimises workspaces to accommodate more workers. With hot desking, workers simply select an available workspace when they arrive. Desk hoteling is a similar concept to hot desking but it is geared more towards the modern workplace model. Hoteling is a space-sharing practice that allows staff members to formally reserve their desk or office - the same as you do with a hotel room.
The main and most important difference between hot desking and hoteling, is that hoteling involves a pre-booking and checking in system. Whether the check-in is via a digital concierge or a person on-site, even in a room full of empty desks or offices, there is an allocation system and it is the same booking and check-in process for everyone that uses the space.
For workers to be able to work from a nomad workplace model, the business technology setup needs to be right. Cloud document storage is fundamental for the nomad office. Cloud storage offers crucial flexibility which can mitigate loss of data whilst guaranteeing everyone has the most up-to-date version of documents like client proposals, training documents, office policies and procedures, statements of work, contracts, etc.
Physical / Virtual HQ Split
This tech savvy hybrid workplace is typically utilised by consultants, start-ups and micro businesses and it minimises overheads. From a professional standpoint, they need the illusion of a physical HQ but the business isn’t quite ready for one, or they simply don’t need one.
A virtual HQ sees outsourcing and web-based office productivity software and services working at it’s best. The company address, phone number and receptionist duties are outsourced to a virtual HQ company for a monthly fee, allowing business owners to focus on what they do best. Also, depending on the virtual headquarters engaged, meeting rooms and videoconferencing can also be hired when required.
The hyper flexible model
One thing that many business owners and managers have learnt during this pandemic is that not everyone is not in the same boat when it comes to working from home. Our boats can look very different and can range from a dinghy to a luxury yacht and everything in between. Some workers love working from and relish the alone time, whilst others feel disconnected from society and feel very lonely. Then there are the Mums and Dads with kids at home that may or may not also be trying to homeschool at the same time they’re meant to be working.
The hyper flexible model gives workers the most flexibility and choice as it allows for a personalised and tailored approach for each worker. The hyper flexible model also includes flexibility not just in when and where workers come into the office, if it all, it also includes a flexible work schedule that doesn’t revolve around the traditional nine to five.
There can be downsides to the hyper flexible model though, as with greater flexibility, comes a greater need for technology, software, processes and space management. Technology that aids productivity and sets workers up to succeed, along with software that supports a remote workforce are essential with the hyper flexible model. Additionally, investment in quality laptops and compatible monitors will also be essential for workers transitioning between workspaces with ease.
One process that will most likely need to be amended if using the hyper flexible model is how managers evaluate their team’s performance, as the current method used may not be suitable when used to evaluate a remote worker's performance. It is also important to take into consideration that performance needs to be measured equally between workers where managers are seeing their team face-to-face, compared to remote workers.
For companies that are moving to or are working under a hybrid workplace model, software like OfficeMaps makes keeping track of who is where and when in their organisation easy. The software also helps individuals and companies in managing their hybrid work style by going beyond a simple directory containing only name and contact details. Instead, businesses can develop rich employee profiles, including specific skills and roles, such as languages, industry experience or fire warden/first aid office status. Profiles are completely configurable to record the details that add the most value for each business.
Robert Wilkinson is CXO of OfficeMaps.