The Veldhoen + Company team has worked with many organisations to re-imagine their future of work and co-creating workplace strategies for the post-pandemic workplace. Unsurprisingly, hybrid ways of working have been at the forefront of strategies that we have developed.
In Australia, we partnered with organisations to test different return to work approaches and hybrid ways of working strategies. We also surveyed over 1,500 respondents across diverse organisations in varying sectors to understand how people in Australia were experiencing working remotely for extended periods and working in increasingly hybrid ways.
Recently my colleague Martijn Joosten wrote about how providing employees with the eight levels of choice and autonomy regarding when and where to do their work will be crucial to the success of any long-term hybrid strategy.
But how do you approach the question of understanding the range of choice types to offer employees? One of the key findings in our research and fieldwork is that conceptualising and strategising about hybrid ways of working makes more sense if viewed through the lens of activities. Traditionally, thinking about work based on activities has generally been restricted to organisations transforming to an activity-based way of working.
With the increase in hybrid working today, taking an activity-based thinking approach has become even more relevant. The increased uptake in remote working has led to the assumption that the office will no longer be the central place of work for many organisations. These prompt the questions:
1) What is the purpose of the office, and what are the activities that it needs to support?
2) Which activities are more suited for remote work, whether at home or in a third space?
The insights from our research also highlight that the decisions on hybrid ways of working become easier to make when ways of working are viewed through the lens of activities. Whether or not your workplace strategy is based on activity-based working, it no longer makes sense to think about long-term hybrid working strategies without assessing the types of workstyles within your organisation.
Workstyles are a profile of the types of activities people do and the proportions in which they are carried out. The insights into the locations that survey respondents felt best supported their performance of different activities show that there are certain activities better supported at home, notwithstanding the variation in peoples’ individual home working experience. The results show people felt better supported to do individual based activities at home and interactive activities when in the office space. This highlights that hybrid ways of working will mean people will have different workstyles depending on whether they are working in and offices space or remotely.
By calculating current workstyles, it is possible to estimate future workstyles and to distinguish between Office Space Workstyles and Remote Working Workstyles. Even by doing this fundamental review, it quickly becomes clear that the purpose of the office space can change significantly depending on the approach taken to hybrid working.
We are awash with opinion pieces trying to predict the purpose of the office in a post-pandemic world, with many saying that the office will be a place for interactions, where people connect to share ideas, innovate and collaborate. However, I think the attempt to make predictions like these are a fool’s errand. In fact, I think asking what the purpose of the office will be is the wrong question to be asking. Why? Because there is no blueprint for a new office purpose (or an old one for that matter).
In my experience, a more helpful way to frame it is what needs to be the purpose of your office for you to be successful? This question opens a world of possibilities. I’d be surprised if collaboration and innovation are not in the mix but taking this approach does not preclude other crucial activities like high focus work and process work.
Then, depending on factors such as organisational goals, role types, organisational culture, and leadership practices, digital capabilities organisations can create a tailored solution that best meets their particular needs.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.