It’s not news that businesses are changing their workspaces, building on changes in practice since the start of the Covid pandemic.
But while many of us are looking to update systems, processes and even premises, we also need to consider the ongoing management of these and how to ensure our people and productivity continue to benefit going forward.
Transformation takes a team
Whatever the size of your organisation, whatever services or products you create, the changes we’re experiencing in our working practices can only be achieved by pulling together and considering the big picture.
As we have dealt with the effects of the pandemic over the last year, those heading up your business operations may have felt pulled apart dealing with their own areas of concern. IT departments moving to cloud-based services and enabling remote working, Facilities Managers handling the maintenance of empty buildings and then changes required by reopening while HR departments have been managing the complexities of remote people management, health concerns and furlough schemes.
Going forward, creating and managing effective solutions will require departments to work together.
Promoting Effective Working
Hybrid workspaces, where employees are offered the opportunity of flexibility - whether that’s in their workplace location, working style or even working hours - are increasingly becoming the norm.
The acceptance that proximity to the manager's desk is not a driver to good work, has ensured businesses are more likely to offer creative options when it comes to individual working practices - which should be positive for employees.
Alongside the positive impact for employees, it is obviously essential that businesses themselves see the benefits of engaged and effective workers and what we have seen from company reports in 2020 is that productivity has been strong through the rise of remote working (as reported in this Forbes article). While it may seem that this is good news for everyone, there is obviously more to this piece of work.
Creating Effective Spaces
Hybrid working - as well as the requirements of social distancing and health concerns introduced due to Covid - has made many of our traditional workspaces redundant and potentially unusable. It’s important that businesses now look to use these spaces creatively to provide what employees don’t have when they’re working at home - places to be sociable and collaborative.
For those who have struggled with isolation through homeworking, a return to shared workspaces will be important.
For creativity and strategic thinking, a return to shared workspaces will be important.
For most employees, an anchor to their team through social interaction will mean a return to shared workspaces will be important.
What’s clear is that, for most, the return to shared workspaces will be flexible in terms of its purpose and how often it occurs.
This flexibility means that technologies, spaces and people will need to be managed differently than they have been either when working traditionally - all under one roof - or when working from home through lockdowns.
Developing Effective Solutions
When creating an effective hybrid workspace it is essential to understand what is required by all those who are invested - what does a Good solution look like for Human Resources? For the Technology Department? For those in Facilities Management?
Only by asking this question can a solution be developed which will work effectively for the organisation as a whole.
In fact, when the final solution has been agreed and built, we will also need to involve those in the business who communicate well - Marketing and Communications teams - in order to ensure all employees are able to get the most out of the changes implemented.
Managing Effective Workspaces
Moving forward, these collaborations must not be forgotten.
It’s by working with IT that facilities managers will be able to use the data needed to manage the physical spaces in which they work. Similarly, the data provided by new technology solutions and systems will inform HR processes and procedures.
Communication between these areas will be essential, enabling ongoing reviews of all new processes - whether organising cleaning rotas, understanding employee timekeeping or technology utilisation.
Moving Forward Together
There are any number of technologies available now for creating and maintaining the hybrid workspaces organisations are looking to build. But growing a business successfully needs more than just technology, it needs engaged employees. This isn’t a new insight, it’s been an ongoing message in my articles including this piece I wrote about HR and IT collaboration.
What’s clear now is that, as organisations look to the future and embrace change, it is essential to engage those experts who will consider the wider implications of these developments and work together for employee engagement and the future growth of their business needs.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. I am an innovation strategist that connects customer, employee and brand experiences. My passion lies in building ecosystems to solve business problems by combining creativity and technology.