What’s next? The hybrid workplace
How can we adopt new flexible ways of working so that everyone benefits? Moreover, when work is something I do, not somewhere I go, then where on earth is my office?
Our panel all agreed that the way forward is a hybrid model of work, and a hybrid workplace. The collective viewpoint is that ‘hybrid’ means providing a choice of physical space and environment. The success of hybrid working will require us to be more intentional about our activities. We used to go to the office, sit at our desk, do a few emails and then decide what we wanted to do that day. We’ll need to swap that around. To ask, ‘what do I need to do today?’ and only then decide where to do it – to take a more focused approach to the working day.
What ‘hybrid’ means in practice will be different for each organisation, its vision, and culture. Ben Almond described the process used to determine what hybrid means for Pearson.
- Activity – what do we want to do, which tasks, what roles are in play?
- Assets – what buildings, which technologies do we need to carry out those activities?
- Access – where should these assets be located to support these activities? How can we make better use of workplace technology (e.g booking and reserving) to manage the efficient utilisation of the assets?
Offices will be redesigned as spaces where people go for purposeful collaboration, or where there is an activity that is best carried out in a managed space. Spire Healthcare, Jitesh told us, has already consolidated its London office onto a single floor with space designed specifically for collaborative use, and where no-one has their own desk anymore.
Of course, not everyone works in an office. Hospitals, for example, are places where physical presence is necessary. To some extent, the pandemic has increased remote working in such locations also, translating physical encounters into the virtual space, with remote consultations. However, the virus has created the need to ensure that bricks and mortar workplaces are safe environments. This can be achieved through social distancing and testing both staff and patients.