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Unlock Success with a Behaviours-First Workplace Strategy

27 October 2023

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A well-designed workplace strategy involves balancing three main elements: the physical space (bricks), the technology that supports team communication and work (bytes), and the culture (behaviours) that tie them all together.

With a widespread shift to remote and hybrid workplaces, the previous tendency to focus on physical design is shifting. A shared built environment (the office) loses overwhelming dominance in the process of building workplace strategy because teams rely on each other's behaviours more significantly and profoundly.

This article explores these three elements, the reasons to shift from the old way (bricks-first) to the better way (behaviours-first), and common questions we get to help you get started with a behaviours-first approach to your hybrid work strategy.



  • Workplace transformations tend to focus primarily on on-time delivery of the built environment, with change management measurement being underestimated.
  • For Hybrid workplace transformations, the built environment will no longer be employees' primary source of meaning and belonging. A ‘behaviours first’ approach will be needed to deliver success.
  • Even in a hybrid setting, the office is no longer the nucleus of work; work is no longer solely a physical destination.


Workplace strategies are a mix of these three fundamental elements. However, hybrid working requires that we shift our focus away from the office as the centralised shared space. This shift gives way to a well-balanced approach to workplace strategy with these three key elements:

  1. Built Environment ('Bricks'):  The physical space where work takes place
  2. Digital Platform ('Bytes'):  The technological infrastructure that supports communication and collaboration
  3. Behavioural Way of Working ('Behaviours'): The cultural and behavioural aspects that guide how employees interact and engage
A successful workplace transformation will explore and define the role of each element and continue to review throughout the shift to a new workplace strategy. Too often, the uneven attention that a company gives the balance of these elements means that transitions don't get far past the “flashy new space” excitement phase. The goal is to develop a workplace strategy that balances these components.



Let’s look at the guiding principles of a workplace strategy. This is the blueprint that aligns your organisation's goals with its operational structure to enhance productivity and employee engagement.

Here's how to develop an effective workplace strategy:

  1. Define the Goals: Begin by clarifying overarching objectives. What do you want to achieve through your workplace strategy? Whether it's boosting collaboration, accommodating remote work, or fostering innovation, clear goals provide the foundation.
  2. Gather Data: Conduct a thorough analysis of your current workplace dynamics. For example, A utilisation study on employee work patterns, preferences and communication methods is a powerful aid.
  3. Engage Stakeholders:
    Involve key stakeholders, including leadership, department heads, and employees, in the strategy development process. This input is invaluable in shaping a strategy that resonates across teams and individuals.
  4. Create a 'Behaviours First' Approach: 
    If hybrid work is part of the equation, prioritise a 'behaviours-first' approach. Define the desired behaviours around how employees collaborate, communicate, and manage their time.
  5. Design the Built Environment:
    Work with experts fluent in crafting a physical workspace that supports the identified behaviours and work patterns. This will include multiple environments - open spaces for collaboration, quiet zones for focused work, and adaptable layouts for flexibility. The design should reflect and reinforce your organisation's culture and values.
  6. Leverage Digital Tools:
    Select and implement digital platforms that facilitate seamless communication, information sharing, and remote collaboration. Ensure these tools align with your strategy's goals and enable the desired behaviours.
  7. Build Change Management Plans: 
    Address the behavioural aspect of your strategy with a robust change management plan. Educate employees about the new approach, train them on digital tools, and create a supportive environment for adapting. Identify change champions who can also help support the process.
  8. Measure and Adjust: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the success of your strategy. Monitor metrics such as employee engagement, productivity, and collaboration. Regularly review the plan and adjust based on feedback and data analysis.

In the era of hybrid workplaces, the physical environment ('bricks') will no longer serve as employees' primary source of belonging and meaning. This shift necessitates a 'behaviours first' approach to achieve successful transformation.

A holistic workplace strategy seamlessly integrates the 'bricks,' 'bytes,' and 'behaviours.'

Our Country Lead in Sweden Jonas Thelandersson explains this using the example of a three legged stool:


"In New Ways of Working with a shared physical environment and  high choice, there are three main factors that make the journey successful; leadership modelling the change, the physical space that's tailored to the goals, and behavioural support to match the ambition of the desired change.

You cannot sit on a stool with just one leg, two is wobbly and dangerous even! It's three legs that create stability. Still, behavioural support needs the most focus."

Jonas Thelandersson
Veldhoen + Company | Senior Consultant


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When compromise is needed in a workplace transformation, the behavioural element is often given short shrift in favour of the bricks and bytes.  It's about visibility. The built environment and digital platforms represent a clear line of sight between investment and outcome.

It's easier to invest in the outcomes that are seen first, like a physical office space and laptops to work from. The timelines for tenders, design specs, equipment purchase, office fit-outs, and technology platforms are straightforward to map out.

On the other hand, gauging the impact of behavioural investments poses challenges. It's harder to illustrate how each dollar invested in behavioural change translates into measurable organisational outcomes.

When there's limited budget or time within a workplace transformation, it's sometimes assumed that if the built environment is achieved and the technology is in place then the behaviours will follow. Bricks and bytes are not enough to foment workplace transformation and consequently, a lack of cultural consideration has the potential to undermine the total investment.



The concept of supporting hybrid work is on many leaders' minds. In our discussions with many organisations regarding the challenges and opportunities presented by the New Way of Working, the most common questions that arise are: 

  • How can we sustain a sense of belonging?
  • How can we maintain flexibility while promoting social interaction and cross-department collaboration?
  • How can we ensure the well-being of our workforce?

Noticeably, these discussions rarely begin with the physical office space. Initial inquiries more often revolve around organisational purpose, goals, and aspirations. It's once these organisational goals and desired behaviours are established that the focus shifts to imagining and designing a physical environment that aligns with the vision.

Veldhoen + Company's Eoin Higgins shares his behaviours-first approach with clients:


It provides an opportunity to really take a step back and ask:

How do we want to be together? Who do we want to be together? What do we want to achieve together?  

By answering that we find an intersection between the existing challenges within the organisation and guiding behaviours towards what they’re trying to achieve. 

Eoin Higgins
Veldhoen + Company | Senior Consultant



While exploring new ways of working, we might wonder if the office still has a purpose.

Offices are still a key factor in the hybrid model but its role has evolved. As organisations aim to create balance with flexibility, the benefits of in-person interactions, and catering to the diverse needs of their employees, these are now spaces that are less about the individual work we complete and increasingly about connection. 

Common roles the hybrid office serves include:

  • A work space for those who don’t perform well at home
  • A community touchpoint and safe space can help with feelings of uncertainty
  • To help provide a clear boundary between “work” and “life”
  • A natural meeting place for socialising,  collaborating, and community events
  • The right environment for client meetings or workshops
  • A physical embodiment of the company culture
  • The best option for training or onboarding new teammates

How a hybrid workplace uses the office shift around many factors. While it remains a home base, it's not the same cornerstone it once was.

Organisational purpose, behaviours, culture, and leadership are the binding agents. As the physical environment's influence wanes, organisations must adopt a new anchor that centres on culture, leadership, and purpose or, a 'behaviours-first' workplace strategy.



The changing landscape of hybrid work demands a shift in mindset, and embracing a 'behaviours first' approach ensures a successful transition and a thriving hybrid working experience – but how do we start?

Rather than diving headfirst into specifics like office design and collaboration tools, it's beneficial to take a step back and consider these foundational questions:

  • What are the strategic goals?
  • Does the current work practices support or hinder the attainment of these goals?
  • How can a new way of working, coupled with innovative leadership, better support the objectives?
  • What office design would optimally complement this evolved work approach?

As straightforward as these questions seem, they can be overwhelmingly complex to answer. Working with a workplace consultant to light the path forward makes for a seamless and enduring workplace transformation.



We develop successful workplace strategies with a meticulous approach that integrates physical space (bricks), digital tools (bytes), and cultural elements (behaviours). We align strategy with your goals to foster a 'behaviours-first' mindset. This is the key to an empowering environment that drives success in the hybrid work landscape.

Get the proper guidance from V+C to ensure that your workplace strategy addresses the evolving needs of your organisation and its workforce, ultimately leading to improved productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall success.

Ultimately, we will work with you to create a unique culture and environment where people will have the space to thrive, the freedom to genuinely connect with one another and will proudly work as a part of your organisation.