Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, a permanent shift may be happening in office culture. Many companies have shifted to exclusively working remotely, and according to PWC, 72% of workers say they’d like “the option to work remotely at least 2 days a week,” even after it’s safe to return to the office.

But how can you set yourself up for success in this new work environment? Let’s discuss some of the basics of the new way of working, challenges facing different working options, and ways you can manage them to maintain your company culture in a new work environment.

Understanding the New Ways Of Working

In-office work was the predominant mode of work for decades – but that’s changing. Today, remote and hybrid work is becoming much more common. This is partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, but this shift was beginning even before this.

For example, in 2019, 42% of workers over the age of 25 with an advanced degree worked from home at least once. In the “new normal,” it seems likely that most businesses will adopt a hybrid model that involves both working remotely and coming into the office when necessary.

The Challenges of Different Working Options

In-office work, hybrid work, and remote work all pose different challenges. In-office work requires workers to commute – and to live somewhere near a physical office location. It also is more expensive, since you have to pay to rent out an office building.

Remote work has different challenges. It can be harder to manage remote workers and ensure productivity, and to create a cohesive team culture. Workers often report feeling more isolated and lonely when working from home.

The hybrid model combines some of these challenges. Workers get the benefits of both working in an office and working remotely – but managing the days that workers come in can be a struggle, and a hybrid model still requires your workers to live near a physical office location.

“Learn how to integrate remote working in a future workplace model by watching our webinar co-hosted with Deloitte titled ‘Back to Business: An essential guide for reopening the workplace

Managing Different Working Options

So, how can you manage the new work environment? Whether you are working in an office, remotely, or with a hybrid model, there are a few great steps you can take.

Daily check-ins are a great step. Having managers check in with each of their direct reports each day ensures that your employees are organized and are prepared for their daily tasks.

Defining clear working hours is also important – expecting both remote and in-office workers to respond to messages between normal office hours, for example, helps reduce frustrations related to miscommunication and unresponsiveness.

It’s also important to measure performance differently. With a hybrid model where some people work from home, you can no longer focus on just tracking how long an employee works at their desk – but you need to concentrate on assessing their overall productivity and their quality of work.

Maintaining Company Culture Within A New Work Environment

One of the hardest parts of a remote work environment is maintaining a strong corporate culture. Here are a few tips you can use to help maintain your culture in a remote or hybrid working model.

  • Communication – Encourage constant communication between employees and their managers to ensure they can always contact the people they need to speak to, and speak freely about their projects, and any issues they may be encountering.
  • Flexibility – It’s important to recognize that hybrid and remote work is inherently different than in-office work, and provide your employees with more flexibility to ensure they work to their full potential.
  • Activities – You can ask hybrid workers to come into the office for special events – like team dinners, corporate Christmas parties or birthday parties – or organize online-only events for remote workers. Take every opportunity you can to do fun activities with in-office, hybrid, and remote workers to build camaraderie. A couple of options you can adopt are virtual break rooms or fitness challenges. Virtual break rooms or coffee time can be set up to encourage casual conversation normally conducted on the office floor. At Trimble, we compete on step counts across teams, all across the world. This encourages not only fun rivalry, but it also boosts wellbeing.
  • Rewards – Make sure you reward remote and in-office workers fairly, and avoid favoring one type of worker over another. This can lead to an unhelpful “us vs. them” mentality between remote and in-office employees.
  • Acknowledgment – Always acknowledge good work publicly, and recognize employees who have gone above and beyond the line of duty. Public recognition is a powerful way to build loyalty, and leads to more engaged, effective employees.

Manage the New Work Environment more Effectively with these Tips!

The new hybrid work environment can be challenging. But with these tips on managing remote, in-office, and hybrid workers, you can take on this challenge, overcome it, and ensure your workers remain happy and productive. 

To learn more about how you can leverage our real estate and workplace technology to help your organization through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond please go here or contact us to book a demo.

There have been countless challenges that have sprung up as a result of COVID-19, and one unexpected implication of the global pandemic is the need to reassess office layouts. As businesses shift their focus toward safely accommodating employees in this new version of normalcy, some interesting office design trends are beginning to emerge.

Post-COVID Office Designs

In order to keep workers safe, the designs of many offices must necessarily be altered, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the aesthetic or functionality of your space in the process.

How to Change Your Office Design

When it comes time to redesign your workspace, these are some of the simplest measures you can take to complete the process:

  • Reconstruct how work is completed in your office — During COVID-19, many businesses have realized that even collaborative projects can be worked on from a distance; consider maintaining a fluid attitude when it comes to interaction with your new design.
  • Consider in-person and remote options — Not every employee needs to be physically present in the office at all times; changing the amount of time that workers spend in the space would allow you to cut down on the number of desks and offices needed.

Learn how to integrate remote working in a future workplace model by watching our webinar co-hosted with Deloitte titled ‘Back to Business: An essential guide for reopening the workplace

  • Redesign in a way that supports your organizational priorities — Businesses’ most pressing concerns have shifted to cleanliness and safety; this means that your new design will likely not feature large meeting places, but will hinge more on the use of technology for collaboration.
  • Get creative with resizing the floor footprint — Don’t be afraid to make major adjustments to your space; it’s okay to ask overarching questions and rethink your entire approach to the office’s layout.

Armed with these tips, you’ll be able to better tackle the task of redesigning your office in a post-COVID world. Fortunately, many others are grappling with the same concerns you are, so there are some useful patterns emerging to help you stay safe without compromising your style.

Office Design Trends

Though offices are only just beginning to reopen in earnest, these are the trends that we already see emerging as businesses navigate the redesign process:

Workstations that prioritize safe physical distance

  • Workstations that prioritize safe physical distance — Whether or not various governments continue to mandate their own social distance guidelines, employees will feel safer in offices that allow them to maintain their space; this means that more and more businesses will be looking for ways to safely configure desks.

open floor plans

  • Open floor plans — Already a popular design trend in modern offices, open floor plans are easier to clean and properly ventilate. However, the closer proximity of employees in an open floor plan can be challenging for distancing so consider options such as staggered arrival times, directing office foot traffic and staging areas for elevators.

hands free soap

  • Focus on intuitive furniture, appliances, and finishes — Employees will inevitably touch many of the same surfaces as their coworkers throughout the day, so businesses are beginning to focus more on finding solutions that are antimicrobial, touch-free and easy to sanitize frequently to put workers’ minds at ease.

covid conference room space management

  • Adjusting conference rooms — Sprawling conference rooms with tables that seat dozens of people are no longer practical. The new trend for conference rooms will focus on changing their use and adding more small meeting spaces to offices rather than prioritizing one or two large rooms. Consider using smaller conference rooms as individual workstations for single use.

unique office design

  • Embracing unconventional ideas — If ever there was a time to think outside the box, this is it. Creativity is the name of the game, and many businesses are willing to try completely new approaches with their redesigns.

COVID-19 has caused a seismic shift in many aspects of life as we know it, and office design is no exception. Fortunately, these design trends will make it easy to rethink your workspace without having to compromise on the functional elements you love.

At Trimble, we provide real estate and workplace management software solutions that helping customers support their return-to-the-office strategies. If you have a need for new technology to help with your workspace planning and booking, you can book a demo here or post your questions to us via our online form.

You can read about Antonia, a fictional character, in the third article, titled ‘A Story of Reimagining the Workplace – Part 1′‘  in the Trimble Real Estate series of articles on the phases of the role of workplaces in the new environment of the CV-19 era.

Maybe Antonia should meet Kat and Chet, the Wall Street Journal’s actors in their return to the office stories. The fictional Antonia tale is from a real estate and facility management perspective with some new views on the purpose of an urban office today and the increased necessity of implementing new technologies. The new Col-LABS described in the article are repurposed conference places where some employees can come together to hopefully do their most productive, creative, collaborative work on a scheduled basis in a healthy building. As the architect Clive Wilkinson has described the workplace as theatre:

“For many, large innovative organizations today, the workplace has become a kind of theatre. The action of work becomes a play. Where human activity is freed from excessive management and control, work can become serious play and the associated activity becomes a state of flow. This state of consciousness called flow is an optimum desirable condition to be strived for in creative communities inspiring and connecting people and processes in an efficiency of movement and productivity.”

One can never question Clive’s understanding of ‘flow’ if you ever saw his design of a conference table as a beautifully curving surfboard for an imaginative workplace which becomes a theatre located just a short walk from the Pacific Ocean in Venice, CA years ago.

Then there are two recent stories from the Wall Street Journal which involve two other fictional employees, Kat and Chet, who are being monitored by the ‘big brother’ like management of their company. Information on their health, time spent in social distancing, as well as where one goes, what he does and whom he meets is being collected on these individuals. Remote working during the time of this virus, has inspired a myriad of news articles lately. One NYT journalist, wrote in early May of this year the reasons why this type of software is gaining popularity:

“With millions of us working from home in the coronavirus pandemic, companies are hunting for ways to ensure that we are doing what we are supposed to. Demand has surged for software that can monitor employees, with programs tracking the words we type, snapping pictures with our computer cameras and giving our managers rankings of who is spending too much time on Facebook and not enough time on Excel.”

The article goes on to describe how Adam, the reporter, downloaded Hubstaff to his computer to monitor his own work and movements over a 3 week period. By the end of his trial period, he found himself trying to cheat the software so it wouldn’t know that he was getting coffee and spending time with his kids. One is led to think that this type of monitoring does not exactly inspire either trust or ‘flow’ of creativity and innovation. Perhaps we need a new play where Antonia teaches Kat and Chet’s management some fresh ideas about privacy concerns, work and the evolving theatre of the workplace. More on this in the final article of this Real Estate ‘Return-To-Office’ series.

If you have an immediate need to address the unique workplace planning and management challenges created by Covid-19, please contact the Trimble ManhattanONE team for a demo or more information.