I started my first job and professional career at Veldhoen + Company just as Sydney began entering a lockdown in June this year. This means that I have only ever known the working from home (WFH) way of life.
Over the past few months, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with WFH.
I love the flexibility that WFH has given me. I can roll out of bed at 8:45am and still make it to a 9am meeting on time, I can squeeze some chores in between meetings, and if I want to take a long walk after lunch, I can do so.
But after a couple of months, the perks of WFH started to fade into the background, as some concerns started to take centre stage.
Video meetings with the rest of my teammates are the go-to since I started work at Veldhoen + Company.
I started to feel like I was missing out on something. Whilst I knew my colleagues, it felt odd to have most of our interactions formally scheduled into the day, and with a defined purpose. I also started to wonder whether my professional development would shape up differently to those who had worked in the office before, and whether I would have to learn to form connections purely through digital means. How can I gain a better sense of the company and my place within it, without losing the wonderful flexibility of WFH?
In the recently released whitepaper On the Leading Edge of Hybrid: Lessons from the Australian Experience, we gathered survey responses from over 1,500 Australian respondents to paint a picture of what the future of work could look like. In articulating the requirements for a successful future way of working, we outlined five elements crucial to creating an office space that responds to the demands of hybrid ways of working. Of these five elements, four of them are grounded in the behavioural and cultural aspects of an organisation: team-time, well-being, serendipity, and purpose.
The most obvious desired change is for the future office space to provide opportunities for teams to gather. This will allow all employees to shift from an individualistic mindset to a collective mindset and will help new employees gain a holistic understanding of their team’s dynamics.
An office space fit for hybrid times should also support the social well-being of employees, allowing space for long-term employees to come together and be the social creatures humans crave to be, and for new hires to meet their colleagues more informally.
Additionally, opportunities for serendipitous social interactions should also be created. The water cooler chats and corridor conversations are where quick updates on projects can happen, and where insights into everyone’s different habits and behaviours can be picked up. These help to personify the company culture for newcomers and are hard to replicate when working remotely.
Finally, the office space for hybrid ways of working should be a space where employees can co-create, redefine, and remind themselves of their common purpose. A shared meaning for the work that is completed will help strengthen a sense of community for new hires.
So as Sydney emerges from its four-month-long lockdown and joins the rest of the world in opening its doors to its employees again, many are asking how the office will be used from here on out. Addressing this from a cultural and behavioural perspective will reach the heart of how employees work and how it can be supported through the physical space. For newcomers especially, a space that enables human and social behaviours will help them form a more complete picture of the company they are working for, the culture they want to be a part of, and the direction in which they want to grow.
If the office space should have an emphasis on the culture, what should a home working space look like? To learn more, please download a copy of On the Leading Edge of Hybrid: Lessons from the Australian Experience.
Keen to find out how your hybrid way of working could look like or got any questions on hybrid working? Feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com.