Whilst for some the extra flexibility and greater work-life balance of the hybrid working model has been a big plus, there is no doubt that without have people in the office, company culture has greatly suffered. As the statistics on this article from Forbes shows us, culture is by no means just a ‘nice to have’, years of research have shown an unmistakable correlation between corporate company culture and financial performance. This is why business leaders have become increasingly concerned about the effects hybrid working is having on company culture. Whilst initially the global pandemic forced companies into adopting this mode of remote working, as restrictions have eased, it has presented a new challenge for decision makers in business as to whether a more flexible workplace model is sustainable for the greater good of the organisation.

One of the first concerns for business leaders when considering the hybrid working model is unsurprisingly how communication, visibility and accountability can be maintained when teams are not in the office. At the outset of the pandemic, the novelty of virtual meetings and the ease of not having to travel to be able to communicate, meant that to a point communication remained strong. However, it didn’t take long before ‘zoom fatigue’ and the desire to communicate face to face presented the problem to business leaders of how to engage and communicate with their people effectively.

When you take into consideration that research has shown a mere 7% of communication exists in what we say, whilst 38% comes from tone of voice, and a staggering 55% comes from body language, it should come as no surprise that phone calls, videos calls or team messaging apps just haven’t cut it for many professionals. To maintain the necessary levels of communication within your teams, having an agreed structure of video calls, check-ins and face to face meetings is critical otherwise it just won’t happen. This may be straightforward within your own team but trying to manage communication and cross collaboration between different teams within an organisation without the physical office is a real challenge. This is where we see the importance of the physical office space as the means of facilitating knowledge sharing, collaboration, communication and most of all a space that symbolises and enhances the culture of your business.

Contrary to predictions and bold claims at the outset of the pandemic that this marked the era of the office extinction, we have now come to understand the irreplaceable benefits the physical office has on culture, creativity and communication. This is why it is so important for companies operating in a hybrid working environment that the office space is optimised to give maximum benefit to their people when they do come into the space. For each organisation, the requirements from the office space may differ; however, common trends in the market lean heavily towards more collaborative spaces to accelerate and facilitate communication and creativity between people as well as enhancing your company’s culture.

At Habit Action we emphasise that this does not mean all you will ever do in the office is have meetings, collaborate and socialise with colleagues as this does not reflect the normal working day of most people. Having quiet zones within your workplace for focused individual work is every bit as important as creating meeting rooms and collaboration zones – it is about creating the right balance for your organisation and understanding what it is your people want from the office when they are in.

A recent project Habit Action completed for O’Connor Utilities in Stockport was designed not only as a beautiful brand statement for the firm but also as a means of fostering their corporate culture. On top of giving their staff their own focused working spaces, phone booths, small meeting rooms and a stunning kitchen breakout space, they have dedicated a large portion of their executive floor as a space for celebrating success and rewarding their staff .  This breath-taking hotel feel celebration space lacks nothing with an AV wall in the sumptuous lounge space and a fully functioning bar (with Guinness on tap!). It is these types of alternative spaces within the office that we predict to see more and more of as business leaders look at new ways of enhancing workplace culture, giving people a greater reason to come back to the office as opposed to working remotely all the time.

If you have adopted the hybrid model and are struggling to maintain your company culture and communication between those working in the office and those working from home, rest assured you are not alone. This is why so many of our clients have chosen to come with us on our workplace strategy journey to uncover how their workplace can enhance business performance as a whole.

Interested in how we can help you with your workplace needs? call us on +44(0)20 8991 6057 or email us at [email protected] to book a call at a time that fits in with your schedule.

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Office Design Trends 2022

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