How Legal Firms are Adapting Hybrid Workplaces Post-Pandemic
Posted on July 8, 2021 by wis_wp
Let’s admit it – space efficacy was never a legal firm office’s strength. Ask any law firm partner and you will know 800 to 1000 square per attorney isn’t entirely uncommon. To put the numbers in context – corporates provide less than half of that to most of their employees. However, thanks to recent research, we know it’s all rapidly changing. Many law firms are now busy adapting hybrid workplaces for better efficiency than before.
Research by McKinsey says the time people spend in law firm offices will decrease by 12%. It could lead to a 15 to 25% decline in space required. That said, the large sprawling offices were underutilized even before the pandemic. We know how busy most attorneys are; they hardly visit their office every day.
The Purpose of a Legal Office
Even as they remained empty for 40% of the day, let’s try and understand why it made perfect sense to invest in these large spaces.
Office size attributed status to its occupant – more in the law/legal industry than others. Apart from the status declaration, the office space is a reward and marker of success. In turn, it also served as a means to attract bright talent. The office space was, hence, a crucial component of the brand identity of a law firm.
The humungous square feet also served a couple of functional purposes. First is the need for space for quiet contemplation, and second is confidentiality – both stemming from the nature of the law firm business. The space requirement based on practice got standardized in an unwritten code.
Knoll Inc., in a 2009 research, found that in-office space allocation and distribution differed by practice:
Corporate attorneys need about 650 sq. ft per attorney
Litigation lawyers require 750 sq. ft per attorney
Heavy litigation attorneys could do with around 1,000 sq. ft per attorney
The pandemic changed all of it. It’s now clear that most attorneys do not require that kind of space. Working from home, they did just fine. Moreover, switching to a hybrid workplace model has left large office spaces to remain emptier than ever.
What’s Expected of a Legal Office Today
Apart from confidentiality, quiet space for thinking and several amenities, a law firm office needs to facilitate casual interaction, networking, and upselling between the firm and its clients. At the same time, it needs to enable knowledge-sharing and build trust among its employees. It should also improve mentorship opportunities for the fresh crop. Thence, a modern law firm office needs to deliver on the needs of a multigenerational workforce.
While redesigning a physical space to meet the above requirements would have been relatively easy, the hybrid workforce adds a dimension of complexity. The good news is that remote work isn’t entirely new to the legal profession. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, telecommute in the legal profession was on the rise since 2012.
A recent survey by CBRE reflects the change in the mindset. About 72% of respondents say that all attorneys and staff will have a degree of remote working flexibility. So, we find it very likely that law firms will invest in technology beyond video conferencing to make a hybrid workplace a more sustainable option.
What Needs to Change in a Law Firm’s Hybrid Office?
Building flexibility into office design and workflow is a must. It helps account for the fact that an office means different things to different people. For example, partners in the law firm may need the office for occasional meetings with high-value clients, whereas associates require it for learning on the job. Consequently, their abilities and response to remote work also vary. Experienced partners can handle a higher degree of remote work as compared to a fresh associate. By providing flexibility, the law firms can allow each legal worker to calibrate her office utility based on the individual need.
Such flexibility at scale is possible only using technology and a host of hybrid workplace tools. Say, if an attorney chooses not to visit the office for a day, her space needs to be opened for others to use. We have seen several law firms have already introduced policies to use underutilized offices. Freshfields has introduced an office release system to that effect. “If you’re not there, you give your office up,” said London managing partner Claire Wills of the office-wide rule.
Using a desk booking application, the employees can book one in advance when visiting the office. However, the implementation of such systems needs supporting policies and protocols. For instance, allowing people to leave papers or memorabilia on the desk could make housekeeping impossible. Hence, a clean desk policy becomes a must as several people use it in a day or a week.
Increased focus on health and wellness
We all know, even with fewer people on the floor, the risk of infection doesn’t go away completely. Thus, putting physical infrastructure in place is necessary. Investing in touch-free equipment – say for punching-in or coffee machines – is a good starting point.
Also, air conditioning systems that allow a greater volume of fresh air and easy access to the outdoors can help a great deal. Additionally, simple interventions such as plexiglasses, indoor plants, and other biophilic elements may help employee wellbeing.
Building a Post-COVID Law Firm Office
COVID 19 forced a slew of changes, and quite a few of them are likely to stay. It has led us to a world where workspaces need to tread a path that doesn’t inconvenience workers on either side of the change. Therefore, we need to relegate rigid workspace rules, theories, and assumptions to history. Workspace policies, like for all other streams of work, need to incorporate flexibility into them.
For instance, now that remote working is a proven possibility, many attorneys and other legal workers are open to it. However, a significant number of people might not entirely be in favor of it for very valid reasons. A hybrid workplace allows for such different approaches to coexist.
Switching to hybrid workplaces involves uncertainty and experimentation. So, the partners need to embrace this uncertainty to find a sustainable solution. An ideal solution would enable seamless collaboration, promote employee wellbeing, and be cost-effective. Above everything else, it would help propagate the culture and brand of the firm without obstructing it in any way.
The ongoing debate, whether you should work on-site or remote, has drawn eyeballs, no doubt. And people have found the middle ground, a very feasible option called the hybrid. People think they could marry both WFH and WFO and create something that could have the best of both worlds. When you cross-breed two species or processes or cultures – you are never sure whether you’d get the best traits or the worst. Creating a Hybrid workplace is a puzzle, or what Satya Nadella calls -‘ the hybrid paradox.’
Remote employees envy the exposure that on-site employees get. On the contrary, on-site employees envy the flexibility that remote employees get. Everyone says it’s inevitable. This blog is not a cliched comparison of WFO and WFH and how hybrid comes to the rescue. It’s also not about whether or not you should adopt the hybrid work model. Instead, this blog is about challenging the way we deal with the change happening around us.
Let us quickly summarise a few arguments that you’ve most likely come across about the Hybrid workplace model.
Greater work-life integration for employees: Employees now have a more acceptable alternative to choose from. They have more flexibility and better opportunities to take care of both work and personal schedules. You know, fit work in our lives and not the other way around.
Reduced cost of Real estate and Commute: Organizations can now scale the workplace infrastructure. Twice the employees for about the same number of desks – looks fantastic. Also, it can save costs for those who provide commute to their employees (majorly in Asia and Africa).
Attract and retain talent: What if the best talent for a particular domain is not available locally, or an existing employee wishes to settle elsewhere? Besides being another perk like flexi-hours for the local talent, a hybrid workplace can also open gates for hiring remote talent.
Hybrid is a heterogeneous mix of two different experiences. Offices offer collaboration, encourage organic learning, and reinforces culture, whereas remote work offers comfort, low distraction, and more productivity.
Hybrid offers both but leaves the balancing act for the people to figure. It is likely a lot more complicated than what meets our collective imagination as of now.
First, we have to realize that we aren’t evolving into it; we are drifting towards it, fully aware but mostly without solid intent. Unlike companies like GitHub that went remote and got employees to sign up for this environment, most organizations currently deal with a vast employee base that hasn’t volunteered for this paradox. They’ve seen enforced work from the office and executed work from home (during the pandemic). They’re probably excited by the flexibility that a hybrid workplace might bring, but have they signed up for the confusion and chaos? Clearly not. It will mostly catch them unaware.
What happens in case of confusion? People try to go back to what previously worked. In this case – we know both remote and office have worked well. One has performed better than the other for most of them – and here comes the friction.
Who decides which employee has to be remote and which one has to be in office? Even if employees have complete flexibility, how’d they determine what’s most convenient and productive for them and their team? People follow groupthink. They are likely to follow the most influential person in the group. Very quickly, they’d all experience polarization and chaos.
The initial chaos is likely to settle down in some time. However, what follows is even more unnerving. A new set of issues will emerge.
Context switching: Hybrid may introduce a constant feeling of impermanence. As humans, we love permanence. When we used to go to the office, we introduced home-like attributes to the place. When we were forced to work remotely, we quickly tried to adapt a corner of our home to be more office-like. When we have to constantly switch between the two with 2/3 days in office kind of policy, will it be the most conducive for our productivity? There are inherent differences in the way you operate in the office versus you operate at home. It would take the majority a long time to adjust to the “new way,” – and they might experience productivity loss till then.
Communication issues: Remote team members may not feel included and will face constant communication barriers. It is hard for people in the office to go out of their way to have those other people in the call – they’d find it easier to discuss and decide with who’s in office and inform others later. It’s hard for someone to know who’s expected in a meeting in person and who’s attending virtually. And even if it is enabled, it would be hard to avoid cross-talks and information loss for remote parties.
Bias/Inequality/Discrimination might be reinforced: Exposure is directly proportional to employees’ growth prospects in most organizations. Being “seen” has always been important. The time spent in office might become an accidental measure of your sincerity towards work and dedication towards the organization’s goals. That’s already a red flag. In addition, some organizations also fear that inequality and bias towards minorities (based on color, race, or gender) might increase.
Overwhelming for Managers: It is easy to guess that it will be psychologically draining. Managers might find it hard to include “inclusion” as an additional layer of responsibility forced by the hybrid workplace. They will have to constantly pursue arrangements to ensure that the promise of flexibility is achieved and they’re able to take care of the “convenience” of the employees. At the same time, it needs to be perceived as fair by employees choosing to work from the office. Managers also need to ensure that the communication barriers are minimized.
It Needs Patience
As you can see, the hybrid workplace can bring a lot of chaos, friction, and second-order effects. So then, is it still feasible? Yes, with proper implementation and adoption, the benefits will outweigh the effort in due course. However, it’s not going to be simple; a “workplace committee can’t handle it,” and it can’t be outsourced to technology. It would need a shift in mindset, a strong push from the top, and patient change management. Here are a few thoughts:
Workplace allocation: The top brass of one of our clients was actually in the news for letting go of their dedicated desks. Like the HSBC CEO, the top management at all organizations will need to adopt new ways and create a strong push for desk-hoteling/hot-desking. It would require a mix of technology, policy changes, and the clear intent of the management.
Hiring Policy: If you continue to keep hiring local – your model will eventually become “mostly-office.” The organizations would need to let go of their regional hiring bias and expand their scope to remote employees. The more you accept the diversity (remote versus in-office), the better are your chances of adopting Hybrid properly.
HR Policy: Would it still make sense to allow the biometric/RFID-based entry systems to measure your employees’ “in-office” hours? Is attendance even relevant – what’s the new marker of attendance when many folks are attending remotely? How’d you capture it? Also, who takes care of the infrastructure and cyber-security at remote locations? Finally, would remote employees need a different set of privileges, remuneration policy, and leave structure? How’d you keep it fair?
Workplace policy: How would you ensure employees can switch their context as quickly as possible? How open or restrictive the office premises will be for remote employees? In case of desk hoteling, how far in advance would employees need to plan? As for hoteling, how’d you handle the high variability of usage?
Organization structure: The organization’s hierarchy and structure must be re-imagined to support the hybrid workplace model. You can’t reduce the offices and encourage key decision-makers to gravitate towards a “headquarter.” How will you reorganize your team to ensure no political power centers are emerging?
Technology like WorkInSync can help answer a lot of the questions that I’ve highlighted above. But, technology alone won’t cut. You can avoid hybrid becoming “mostly-office” if you also appropriately evolve your agile workplace. The workplace, process, and systems all need to develop steadily and with the people involved.
Finally, is a Hybrid workplace suitable for you?
The answer depends a lot on how you intend to go hybrid. Are you ready to reimagine your org structures? Redesign the offices to give your employees a cohesive, “designed” experience? Are you ready to upgrade your policies and let go of your biased preferences? Are you prepared for intentional systemic changes that might need you to consider all employees as “remote employees” at all times?
To summarize, is going Hybrid an intentional plan or an inevitable compromise for you? The answer to that question will determine the “future of work” for your organization.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed us to relook at the way we work. As more companies start adopting a hybrid workplace, recruiters have been given the opportunity to dip into a larger pool of candidates with less limitations of geography and personal schedules. Nonetheless, this shift in the way we work has raised questions and potentially a few hitches.
Organisations now have to review the way they assess their prospective employees. The way they on-board, integrate and set expectations for the new hires also has to change. Hiring candidates who do not align more closely with your company culture and ethos can affect your company’s long-term success.
Seeking a work culture fit
The uncertainty of the pandemic and the relatively quick adoption of home working has left both companies and job seekers seeking greater clarity and rigor from the recruitment process.
Candidates want to pick the right opportunity that aligns with their aspirations, ambitions and personal circumstances. Companies have to find employers that are the ‘right fit’ for their emergent workplace culture and must look ‘beyond the bullet points’ on the candidate’s resume.
A hybrid workplace allows substantially less direct physical supervision over the employee’s activities. So, for companies implementing a hybrid work model, they must ensure the candidate is a good fit for their organisation from the outset. If the candidate does not quickly integrate into the culture, management and team environments, there is less opportunity to communicate these norms and expectations later, reducing productivity and employee engagement.
Looking past the resume
Companies have to look past the candidate’s previous work and look at ‘the way the candidate works’. They will have to assess whether the candidate’s key motivators and personality traits align with the environment and role for which they applied. Understanding how the candidate will work under specific environments or situations is essential.
Companies that can assess candidate’s compatibility will reduce future lapses in delivery and misalignment of expectations. Recruiters will have to place greater emphasis on assessing the candidate based on their core competencies, personality type, consistency and cultural match in addition to the usual assessment of working knowledge and skill.
In addition to increased remote working, the hybrid workplace will also lead to more remote hiring. This will obviously limit the face-to-face interaction that many recruiters and hiring managers have relied on when assessing candidates both for competence and ‘fit’. They will have less information with which to make hiring decisions, particularly in the suitability of a candidate to succeed in a hybrid or remote work environment.
Companies will need to employ additional assessment tools and processes to objectively review the candidate’s personality type and potential as a new employee in the organisation. Psychometric testing and behavioral profiling will become even more important components of the recruitment process.
Recruiting in 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many things about how we work, and recruitment will be no exception. In an environment where employees want more flexibility and the employer has access to a much wider pool of candidates, the recruitment process has to become focused on the individual rather than the work alone. Understanding and assessing your prospective candidate’s personality, social skills and adaptability along with their work is paramount in making a good hiring decision in a hybrid work environment.
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Our long-held assumptions dictating that people need to be in the same place, at the same time, to get work done is obsolete. Thus, the hybrid workplace is on the rise. Whatever trends are being introduced, these are no longer bound by the traditional notions of work.
From the future of real-estate to changes in the facility service business model, this chapter by a team of 19 industry experts led by editors Michael Schley and Alexi Marmot from IFMA puts together a bunch of topics to help you understand the hybrid workplace and its rise in the current landscape.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a massive impact on global business. In March 2020, Australians moved successfully from the office to remote working in a matter of days, many for the first time.As a result of tough lockdowns and highly effective track and trace programs, community transmission in Australia of COVID-19 has slowed. Most offices have reopened, and workers welcomed back to their desks.
However,the Melbourne Institute found that 70% of Australians working from home during COVID-19 wanted to do so after the pandemic finishes. In another survey conducted byRoy Morgan, only 5% of the people surveyed wanted to return to the office full-time, with 50% wishing to split their time between home and the office.
These preferences are evident in our quieter CBDs, with commercial real estate operators revealing that occupancy rates remain at around 40-50%, with peaks on Wednesday and Thursday and offices largely empty on Mondays and Fridays.
It seems that the hybrid work model is undoubtedly a permanent fixture in the Australian business landscape. But what does it mean?
A hybrid work model exists when an organization allows its employees to choose their preferred work location- work on-site, work from home or split their time between them. It has similar objectives to offeringflexible office spaces, giving workers the freedom to choose where and when they do their best work.
In October 2020, Reddit was one of the first major organizations to adopt the hybrid work model permanently. Twitter adapted its workplace policies, stating that employees can work remotely and only visit the office when they want to. Paypal, Viacom, and Microsoft also adopted similar arrangements.
Also, in 2020, Atlassian, the A$68bn Sydney-based software business, created its “Team Anywhere” policy. It stated that employees could attend their local office only if need be. The only attendance requirements will be quarterly visits for important meetings and conferences.
While hybrid working is popular with many, what are the most significant advantages for both employees and employers?
4 Advantages of the Hybrid Work Model
Reduced Commute Time
With employees travelling to the office only 2-3 days a week, time and money spent commuting are drastically reduced.
Surveys indicate working from home cuts out an average commute time of 41 minutes and delivers an extra 37 minutes for leisure activities. Employee well-being is improved, environmental damage is reduced, and employers benefit with an additional 36 minutes spent working.
Increased Employee Satisfaction
ASurveyMonkey study from 2020 revealed that employees who worked remotely were more satisfied with their work compared to their colleagues who were going to the office every day.
Many hybrid employees note significant psychological benefits, such as having more control of their schedules or getting more leisure time. Being able to dress as you wish, eating more home-cooked meals, and spending more time with loved ones contributed to boosting their personal wellbeing.
Real-Estate Cost Optimization
Real-estate costs typically account for 5-20% of an organization’s total costs. Suncorp recently estimated that they save $10k for each home-based employee.
Ina study conducted by PWC, 31% of executives anticipate the need for less space as the number of remote workers increases.
Hybrid working also allows employers to repurpose their workspaces to enhance innovation and improve company culture. There is space for ‘collaboration hubs’ with reduced desk numbers and more opportunities to maintain social and team-based interaction.
Adopting the hybrid work model can help companies optimize their real-estate function and costs.
The purpose and function of an office can mean different things to different people.
Employers often focus on productivity goals, such as providing space for client sales meetings, conducting staff training, and improving cross-functional communication. Employees may think more about team socialisation, personal career development, and access to better equipment.
However, during the creation of hybrid workspaces and as part of the shift to a more flexible management model, a greater balance can be achieved. Employee productivity can be optimised by allowing them to work where they can be most productive. Employees can use the office to collaborate with team members. This can improve employee satisfaction without sacrificing company culture.
Hybrid working is our future, one which can help businesses attract the best employees, boost opportunities for collaboration and team-building while ultimately reducing real estate costs on the bottom line.
WorkInSyncis dedicated to helping organizations adopt a hybrid work model. To understand the full capacity of the features, schedule a demo with us. Subscribe to our blog and stay on top of the latest developments in the hybrid work space.
Understanding New Work Models & Employee Work Preference
Posted on May 17, 2021 by wis_wp
The pandemic has forever changed the way we work. The structure of our workplaces and our work preferences are undergoing shifts. While some are up for a remote setting, few want a mix of on-site and remote work. The evolving work models are also influencing employee work preferences. This blog aims to define the new and refined work models and determine employee work preference.
Types of Work Models
While the on-site model seems to have ruled the work preferences landscape for years, the pandemic has introduced a new type: the hybrid work model. To understand employee work preferences, we need to comprehend the different work scenarios.
On-site Work Model
Pre-pandemic, this used to be the most common work model. Every morning, hordes of employees would get ready in their best formal attire, grab a cup of coffee and commute to their workplace. ON-SITE, meaning a particular place. And then 2020 happened!
In the post-pandemic world, the on-site model is where an employee works from the office more than 20 days a month.
While our offices remain the same, the overall approach to on-site work will be more complicated than before, given that the office population will be highly scattered.
By July 2021, 75% of executives anticipate that at least 30-40% of the employees will be working in the office.Vaccination efforts have instilled confidence in returning employees, although the recent surge in cases will delay the return-to-office process. Thus it can be safely assumed that the on-site work model is here to stay, but its role will change.
Under the remote work model, employees will primarily work from home with less than 4 days of work from the office in a month.
Gallup Poll in 2017 indicated that 43% of American workers prefer working remotely. This number was rising every year. The pandemic only reversed its minority into a majority.
The followers of this work model believe that it promotes a better work-life balance. Since you end up saving your commute time, you can focus on doing something you love.
From a company perspective, an INC report suggested that it can save up to $2000 per employee by allowing them to work remotely. So, yes, it goes without saying- remote work has its benefits, and it has been gaining followers. Over 20-30% of employees will end up working remotely by the end of 2021.
Under the hybrid work model, employees will work from the office for 5-19 days a month, and the remaining period will be remote work. 60-70% of the workforce will be adopting this model in the post-pandemic world.
Since this work setting lies somewhere between on-site and remote models, it combines the best of both worlds. While it encourages better collaboration, it also allows employees to balance their work and life. The hybrid work model provides more freedom and flexibility to employees. It grants more autonomy to employees to fit the job in their lives rather than to fit their lives in their work.
Furthermore, a study conducted bySIEPRrevealed that 55% of US employees want a mixture of onsite and remote working. Therefore, the hybrid work model is here to stay.
It is imperative to understand that no organization can have anyone model work for them. It will be at large a combination of the three work models mentioned above. According to our analysis of the data collected, this is what the future of our workplace will look like:
How WorkInSync Can Help You Adopt a Hybrid Work Model
WorkInSync was designed to help organizations adopt the hybrid work model. Listed are ways WorkInSync can help you:
Decentralizes the work from office process to employees and team managers using the employee work preference feature. Employees can choose the days they want to work from the office and plan the same alongside their managers
Makes office facilities flexible for easy adoption of the hybrid work model. For the same, WorkInSync offers features like desk reservation, booking meeting rooms, cafeteria, parking spot, and office commute
Simplifies and provides transparency to the employee scheduling process at Pan Organizational Level with features such as centralized dashboards and easy access for HRs and workspace managers
So, now you are familiar with the three most popular and common work models that your employees might prefer. But how to decide which work model they prefer? We have listed a few questions that will help you understand your employees’ pulse and determine their work preferences.
Experts believe that these three work models will form the foundation for all future work models. Improvements are being made to each of these models to ensure better employee convenience.
They also believe that employee work preferences will keep changing based on their present situation. While some will continue to work remotely, a fraction is expected to return to office once they are vaccinated. Oh, and a few will continue to advocate the benefits of the hybrid work model.
Let us know which work model do your employees prefer the most. Subscribe to our blog to stay updated with the latest workplace developments.
Understanding Burnout & 5 Tips to Marking Work Boundary
Posted on April 22, 2021 by wis_wp
So much is changing around us. Be it our schedules, work preferences, or even the way we choose to work; everything is changing rapidly. Even though new work models have come under the spotlight, post-pandemic burnout is real. We are still struggling to set up a work boundary.
With this blog, we attempt to bring to light what burnout truly is and provide tips to deal with it.
Sounds interesting? Keep scrolling to read.
Burnout: A Lack of Work Boundaries
According to Small Business Trends, 80% of employees feel overworked. Most of them pointed out that high competition and the need to stand out forces them to work extra hours. This ultimately leads to massive burnout.
In 2019, a survey revealed that 74% of marketers feel burnout. In the US, 49% of employees leave their present companies because they feel overworked. Many experts have cited that work pressure and other factors such as longer commute time and lack of work-life boundary can also cause burnout. Many chimed that the on-site work model was highly responsible for exhaustion.
The pandemic introduced remote working for most employees in almost all industries, but that didn’t reduce burnout. A recent survey conducted by FlexJobs and Mental Health America found that 75% of people experienced burnout at work; specifically, 40% experienced it during the pandemic. With pay cuts rampant and work pressure increasing, the situation around us is stressful. The fine line that separated work from home is increasingly diminishing, and of course, there are worries over job security.
All of this has only made burnout worse. Some even say that burnout has become a constant complaint in the new world era. However, by marking work boundaries, a solution to burnout, especially during this pandemic, can be achieved. The process is not simple; nevertheless, we have listed five ways you can mark work boundaries to reduce burnout.
5 Tips to Perfectly Mark Work Boundary
According to the author and motivational speaker Tony Gaskins, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what you reinforce.” Here we have listed five ways to set healthy boundaries at the office to work smarter and increase your productivity.
Start with you and your boss each creating a separate list of all the tasks you believe you are being held responsible for. This exercise can be eye-opening as, most of the time, there are discrepancies between the two lists.
The second step would be to prioritize the tasks you think you should be focusing on
The last step should be to negotiate on agreed-upon priorities and fix the same
Clarifying your tasks with your manager can ensure that you don’t end up doing extra work.
2. Set Your Limits
Even if you have clarified your tasks, you need to set your time limits. For instance, if your work hours are from 9 am to 6 pm, make sure you do not engage in any office work after that. Inform your colleagues that you won’t be answering calls or emails. If you are unavailable for a particular day, inform your manager. By setting your limits, you ensure that nobody can violate your work boundaries.
You can use apps like WorkInSync, which allows you to set up your time boundaries.
3. Communicate Clearly
Once you set your limits, you need to communicate them clearly and confidently to your manager and colleagues. For instance, if you don’t want your team members to contact you after 7 pm, tell them exactly when you will be available for work conversations. If you don’t like to be contacted unless it is an emergency, make sure to outline what constitutes an urgent matter. You should address any violation of your work boundary immediately to avoid confusion.
4. Delegate When Necessary
Being a good leader means delegating your tasks. If you are expected to do the work of 50 people, which makes you feel overwhelmed and burnt out, chances are not only that you are not delegating your tasks, your productivity is also taking a massive hit. Delegating is a skill that can help you go a long way as a leader. Learn to let go, trust your team and play to their strengths. On the plus side, this is the healthiest way to set a work boundary.
5. Create a Structure
One of the best ways to create structure – and thereby establish a boundary – is to have an agenda. An agenda is a more efficient process and positions you as a professional and capable leader. When setting an agenda, ensure to include a start and end time along with topics to discuss. Also, conduct weekly catch-up sessions to avoid wasting your and your colleagues’ time.
Burnout is an obstacle that most employees face. This pandemic has made only more apparent. Most organizations lose employees to burnout. Thus, it is essential to mark your work boundaries. Say “No” when it is required. Always remember, a happy employee influences a growing organization.
WorkInSyncallows you to mark your office time and highlight your out-of-office hours to ensure that you can mark your work-life boundary.
5 Hybrid Workplace Model Trends of 2021 You Need to Know
Posted on April 5, 2021 by wis_wp
Since COVID-19 upended our lives, employees worldwide started settling into the rhythms of remote work. As the dust settles, companies have started thinking about the best way for their employees- namely, the hybrid workplace model.
A study conducted by SIEPR ( Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research) revealed that 55% of US workers want a mixture of onsite and remote working. Employers expect the proportion of remote workers to increase from 18% pre-pandemic to 37% post-pandemic in the UK. In China, employment expert Alicia Tung has predicted that there will be a 60/40 split of onsite/remote work in the next ten years’ time.
Thus, it is safe to say that hybrid workplace models are the future. Marco Minervini, an organizational design researcher at the business school INSEAD in Singapore, noted that different hybrid working models would rise amid the ongoing uncertainty. A combination of remote work with onsite work.
The hybrid work model provides more freedom around when and where to work. It grants more autonomy to employees to fit work around their lives, rather than structuring their lives on a weekday around hours spent in an office. Ideally, it is the best of both worlds- structure and amicability on one hand and independence and flexibility on the other.
While hybrid is key to understanding the more flexible future of work, it encompasses different trends. This blog puts together many of these trends for you to plan better. Keep scrolling to learn more.
Workplace safety isn’t just a topic for manufacturing and warehouse. With the oscillating COVID cases, employees opting to return-to-office want safety. Employers need to devise policies and procedures that ensure all employees feel safe. Undertaking health surveys, recording temperature, developing sick leave policies, and warranting a sanitization process is a must.
Studies have shown that coronavirus doesn’t spread in open spaces or places with good ventilation. Before returning to the office, consider installing high-efficiency air filters and better ventilation systems to reduce workplace interiors’ viral load.
Identify thepotential hotspots at your workplace. Consider all the high-traffic areas and touchpoints of your facility. This could include door handles, elevator buttons, lobbies, cafeteria, bathrooms, and light switches. After recognizing such places, plan to mitigate risk in those areas with additional cleaning and disinfection efforts.
Install contactless access system throughout the office. This will ensure that your employees will have touch-free access to and inside the office. Ensure that employees maintain social distancing protocols.
Safety is not an option. It is a necessity. Therefore, protocols to ensure maximum safety will be the top trend as employees return-to-office.
Before the pandemic, flexibility was a perk. However, post-pandemic workplaces will see a rise in flexible schedules. To attract and retain talent, flexible schedules have become a necessity. Offering this flexibility can benefit your company as well. Providing flexible schedules can increase morale and productivity while also reducing stress.
As an employer, you will have to recognize your workforce’s needs and desires. You need to understand your employees’ concerns and work with them to develop flexible work schedules. Employees value flexibility. You need to acknowledge where remote work is more effective and prepare a schedule accordingly. The return to work process will be effective only when employees are on board.
A PWC survey also revealed that 58% of employees, when asked in a survey how they feel about remote work at their company, want to work remotely at least 3 days a week. 43% of executives prefer flexible schedules or want to be back in the office as soon as possible. With people having varied opinions, flexible schedules will rule the workplaces in 2021.
Trend #3: Dispersed & Decentralized Global Workforce
Before COVID-19, there was a subset of full-time remote workers. However, the pandemic forced organizations to be more flexible. This has resulted in companies seeking out talent rather than talent seeking companies. An HBR analysis shows that companies listed 33% more skills on job ads in 2020 than they did in 2017. Organizations cannot reskill their existing workforce fast enough to meet the requirements. Thus, they will hire more remote freelance workers.
83% of employees are relocating due to remote working, and 20% have already done so either permanently or temporarily. Essentially, the workforce has become dispersed and global.
Companies like Nationwide and REI have also decentralized their offices to reduce real estate costs and keep employees safe. Nationwide has been working-from-office in four main corporate campuses and has allowed remote working in all other locations. REI has sold its headquarters and moved its employees to multiple locations allowing complete work-from-home.
This dispersion and decentralization have opened numerous avenues for job seekers in second-tier cities like Austin and Denver. And if experts believe that this is not going to change anytime soon. Thus, becoming a major trend this year.
Trend #4: Scaling Technology for Better Mental Health
Digital technology has become more critical than ever. While companies found Zoom and Slack apps to ensure the smooth running of operations, they need to find a permanent solution to maintain company culture in a hybrid workplace model. Engaging with employees scattered across various locations can be a challenge. However, leveraging technology can help ensure better mental health for your employees.
Even with employees on-site, you can host meeting online. You can conduct networking or team-building exercises online. If you want to retain your employees, you need to take care of your employees during this difficult time.
There are many wellness apps like Calm, Headspace, Classpass, BetterHelp, and Virgin Pulse, which help you deal with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Adobeoffers employees virtual well-being seminars, 24/7 counseling services, and complete access to Calm and Headspace.
The stigma surrounding mental health is finally shattering. Using technology to support them can result in a lot of positive. And there is no doubt that this will become a massive trend in the hybrid workplace model.
Trend #5: Change in Real-estate Portfolio
The introduction of hybrid workplaces has lead to a reduction in office real estate. In a study conducted by PWC, 31% of executives anticipate the need for less space due to the number of remote workers increasing. The need to align real estate strategy with the hybrid workplace strategy is gaining momentum.
Most companies are evaluating their real estate strategy to enhance the experience of all those employees returning to the office. In fact, many executives are considering taking up the opportunity to get creative with the workplace. The goal is to create a workplace that enhances collaborations and company culture at large.
An increase in collaborative hubs, the introduction of private offices, and the implementation of social distancing are some of the changes we can expect in the office real-estate scenario. Space needs will now be dictated by the number of workers in the office each day, space required to be productive and meet health safety concerns.
Whether companies will reduce their existing real estate footprints as they move to more remote work models or use flexible office space to meet fluctuating space needs is a trend that will dictate most of the hybrid workplaces in 2021.
The introduction of the hybrid workplace model is a testimony to changing landscapes. These trends are only a few of many. You can also read here the top features a hybrid workplace management software should have. To stay on top of these trends, subscribe to our blog now.
A year of working from home has taught us valuable lessons. Employers have started acknowledging that work-from-home is, after all, not that bad. Work can be completed, and productivity can be high. Employees who longed for it earlier don’t find it as enticing.
While WFH effectively helped limit the virus’s spread, it isn’t a long-term solution. As the pandemic continues, returning to our pre-pandemic phase is not really an option. Therefore, the need to find a middle-ground. And this middle-ground is what we call a Hybrid workplace.
What is the hybrid workplace model?
A hybrid workplace is a model where some employees work from the office while others work remotely, all enabled by technology.
Modern tools like video calls, online meetings, document sharing, and a suite of collaboration apps enable geographically-distributed teams to function and succeed.
The first step to designing a hybrid work model is identifying the objectives, list the critical success factors, and evaluating the major challenges. When designing a new workplace model that can potentially change our offices’ faces, it is necessary to establish a clear roadmap. And you should also have definitive metrics to measure success.
What should be your key objectives while designing a hybrid workplace?
It is easy to lose sight of the goal when you plan a big transformation. Keeping in mind the following considerations would help you stay on track:
1. Ensuring employee well-being and safety: Remember what drove you to this transformation. It may be tempting to overlook a few safety concerns to squeeze in a few more people. But a hasty decision could jeopardize the health and safety of others. So, cap the number of people you can have in the office at any point in time. And stick to it!
2. Balancing flexibility and security: Hybrid workplaces are all about striking the right balance. While you set out to build a flexible workplace by enabling employees to work remotely, the security risks increase manifold. So, make sure you budget for enhanced security and privacy infrastructure at the planning stage itself.
3. Driving technology adoption: A large majority of workspace and HR managers would agree that it’s easier to shortlist and shop for productivity tools than drive its adoption. Ensuring you have adequate IT implementation and training staff at hand is one of the prerequisites to transform into a hybrid workplace. What good is it to invest in tech that would lie in the garage unused?
What are the common challenges in designing a hybrid workplace?
Going hybrid may not be an option but necessary for quite a few businesses. However compelling may be the need to go hybrid overnight, it comes with challenges.
After weathering the storm that was COVID-19, an ambitious transformation goal without meticulous planning would be a recipe for disaster. Here are the most common lapses that could lead to a hard landing:
1. Designing policies to suit the physical infrastructure: Changes to physical infrastructure are relatively easy to carry out – your floor plan and desks will not protest. If you change policies every second day, employee frustration is a given. Treat physical infra changes as fluid and policies as more static.
2. Using old metrics in new ways of work: Counting work hours, judging employees on the speed of their response, or evaluating engagement based on the frequency of their replies on Slack or Teams, are simply a recast of your old biases in a now redundant work environment. Align your objectives and communicate your expectations in terms of productivity.
3. Viewing onsite and remote employees through the same glass: One of the most common pitfalls is the inability to be cognizant that you have two sets of employees working in different realities. It is easy to get frustrated over delays caused due to remote work when your benchmark lies in a distraction-free environment equipped with adequate infrastructure. Hybrid models can bring in a new dimension of situational diversity in an already diverse workplace. Managing it requires learning and patience.
What are the tools you need?
A hybrid workplace aims to create a central platform between the two ends of on-premise and remote work. This platform is a combination of three sets of tools:
1. Collaboration tools: Collaboration tools like Slack and Teams focus on enhancing productivity through features like file sharing and management, email and calendaring, integration with task tracking apps, and a chat-based interface.
2. Communication tools: Although collaboration tools offer communication features, solutions like Zoom and Google Meets have been finding new users. One of the possible reasons for their popularity could be their product quality; the other could be their large user base that attracts more users. These serve multiple purposes like recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, apart from regular team meetings.
3. Automation tools: Automation tools are more about establishing a hybrid workplace, unlike the other two that have been enablers of a remote model. Hybrid workplaces would thrive on extensive planning. Right from the floorplan to scheduling employees, booking meeting rooms, maintaining social distancing protocols – all of it would be more efficient with automated planning and execution.
What are the must-haves while developing a roadmap?
In a hybrid workplace, workforce management revolves around the axis of productivity and not just attendance. You must ensure the following are in place to be successful.
1. Well-defined policies and guidelines: Most organizations, which have traditionally allowed remote work, would have policies for it. But hybrid workplace policies are different. It isn’t the case of few employees working from home for a day or two. A significant part of your workforce would be contributing remotely for an extended duration, while another set would be on-site. Given the different work environments, using the same measures of performance, or indicators of the engagement level, may lead to gross inequities.
Say, measuring output in a given number of hours might unfavorably tilt the balance towards people working from the office. It could happen as people working from home need to shoulder household or parental responsibilities. However, to compensate, they may put in more hours at work.
2. Empathetic approach to management and leadership: One of the most discomforting experiences for leaders during the lockdown has been the inability to monitor work. Many managers relied on sight to see if their teams were working. It’s also easier to set up expectations and follow up in a physical workplace. In a hybrid setup, the approach changes.
Working in a virtual environment, the managers need to use a more empathetic and supportive approach, leveraging tech tools to ensure their teams remain productive.
3. Technology that suits your organizational needs: It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that WFH was possible only because businesses invested in technology infrastructure. For a hybrid model, new variables enter the equation, placing unexpected stress on the current tech stack.
As a result, business leaders need to reassess the tech needs of different functions and teams, enabling them to succeed in a model different from WFH.
4. Communication that provides a level playground for all employees: Communicating guidelines and policies and staying in touch with your team helped businesses successfully implement the remote work model. Does that bode well for a hybrid workplace?
Think of a meeting going on in a hybrid workplace. Members in the room are privy to side-talks and more tacit communication in the room. People attending it through Zoom can listen only to the speaker. A situation like this could work to the company’s disadvantage as a whole.
Therefore, a more appropriate way of conducting meetings in a hybrid workplace would be to have all team members attend virtually – people on-premise can log in through their desks.
How do you implement a hybrid workplace?
Like any initiative, you need to create an employee buy-in for implementing a hybrid workplace model. However, the current situation concerns your team’s health, safety, and well-being. Therefore, a healthy dose of empathy and keeping the process human would help you attain better success. Here’s how you go about it:
1. Create a buy-in: Listening to employee-concerns, and involving them right through the planning process will help you avoid last-minute setbacks. Run employee surveys, document the data, and maintain transparency throughout the process.
2. Make your physical workplace safe: Sanitization and social distancing norms are just two components of a safe workplace. Use technology for regular sanitization reminders, screening, and testing employees, automate desk and meeting room bookings, revisit floor plans, add more safety equipment, and limit the number of people on the floor. Communicate all the safety measures to your employees regularly and in-advance.
3. Develop hybrid workplace guidelines: Guidelines for WFH are different from a hybrid workplace. Thinking through various situations and cases, you can develop a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand set of guidelines. List the dos and don’ts clearly, with no space for ambiguity. Also, strive at establishing an even playfield for employees working remotely.
4. Communicate with your employees: Bringing about a change after months of WFH, you are dealing with inertia mixed with the fear of COVID-19. A sudden change may be upsetting. Hence, it is a must to communicate the reasons behind shifting to a hybrid workplace model. When announcing the plan, back it up with data and the benefits.
Every transformation exercise starts with an objective. Measure the success against those objectives. Following is the process to measure the success of your hybrid workplace model:
1. Identify a baseline to measure results: If the goal is to increase productivity, decrease lost-opportunity, or human error cost caused by remote work – quantify your as-is.
2. Establish KPIs: The digital transformation KPIs work for hybrid workplaces. These can be technology cost per employee, workplace & technology utilization rates. Human resource management can be another dimension for your KPIs – attrition rates, employee satisfaction, and so on.
3. Incorporate qualitative insights: As we all undergo a massive change, numbers cannot comprehend the real picture. Incorporating behavioral insights and anecdotal evidence may prove helpful in the long term.
Examples of companies that have implemented hybrid workplaces
2021 is witnessing the emergence of hybrid workplaces. The ones that made it to the headlines for successful implementation are:
Starting 2021, HubSpot provided three options to its employees – office, flex, or home. The office option entails employees working from the office for three or more days a week; flex two or less and home means complete WFH.
Figma conducted extensive surveys to understand what its employees wanted in a design-software company. It rolled out two options – Hubs and Remote – along with a few policy changes. The employees visit a workspace with fewer people for two specific days a week under hubs. The other option is to go remote completely.
Dropbox announced its Virtual First program in October 2020. Remote work will be the primary mode of engagement for all day-to-day work.
As the world slowly adjusts to the post-pandemic new normal, green shoots of economic recovery are expected globally. IMF projects that the world GDP will rise to 5.2% in 2021 after contracting to 4.4% in 2020 (1). As per a global CFO survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, 60% of the respondents expressed cautious optimism for the near future, anticipating an increase in sales and profits in 2021 (2).
Key Organizational Agenda for 2021
As a derivative of this cautious optimism, some of the key organizational priorities for 2021 are setting up flexible working models, focusing on employee engagement, increasing automation at the workspace, and cost reduction (2 & 3).
Getting employees safely back to the office is another short-term agenda for many organizations. The number of employees coming back to the office is slowly increasing, as indicated by the Kastle Back to Work Barometer. However, concerns remain about ensuring their health and safety and minimizing any business disruptions due to the same.
Creating Hybrid Workplaces to Enhance Organizational Resilience
In the pre-pandemic era, offices have served as spaces for collaboration and ideation. They also provided a platform for employees to socialize and interact with each other thereby reinforcing organizational culture. Offices provided access to different types of capital assets and services (e.g. printers, courier services) to achieve the same (6). These features helped amplify employee productivity. Office spaces were designed to accommodate almost all the employees of the organization and were set-up in all major geographies of operations. Organizations typically planned to add more office space to accommodate growth in employee strength (7).
However, in many organizations, the various assets/amenities provided in the office space (e.g. access management infrastructure, desk & meeting rooms, cafeteria, etc.) have been structured and operated as discrete, disconnected units and have been viewed more as an operational requirement rather than as a strategic business need. This impacted employee productivity and led to inefficient utilization of office assets. A Workplace Survey conducted in 2017 (8) found that:
Globally, only 13% of organizations utilized their space more than 80% of the time. In 2018, 37% of workplaces were empty during any given workday, which translated to approximately $ 150 billion in unused space (9).
During COVID times, the concept of offices has undergone a paradigm shift. From being a single physical space for congregation, offices have become distributed physical spaces located in employees’ homes. All interactions have moved online, with organizations adopting different digital tools for the same.
While the concept of remote working has gained traction and acceptance, whether it will become the norm moving forward is anybody’s guess. In a survey conducted by Salesforce, only 37% of survey respondents viewed full-time remote work as the most appealing long-term scenario. 64% of the respondents wanted to spend at least some of their working hours at an office, factory, or other types of workplace (11). A BCG study suggests that employees miss the connectivity they had with colleagues in office. Respondents told that they miss “being able to spontaneously walk to a coworker’s desk and discuss an issue” and “social gatherings at work.” (10).
For now, organizations are cautiously evaluating when and how to safely bring employees to office. However, the office experience will not be the same before a vaccine is available (7). Employees working onsite will be required to wear masks and follow various health and safety protocols on the office premises. Companies will have to redesign office spaces to ensure social distancing and restrict movement in congested areas (e.g. office cafeteria, meeting rooms, elevator, etc.).
Most of the CXOs are actively considering the concept of hybrid / flexi workplaces that promote flexible work models. This includes creating a workplace experience that enables employees to move seamlessly between onsite and remote work and suitable office spaces that enable the same (10). As per McKinsey research, flexi-workplaces’ share of the US office market has been growing at 25% annually for the past 5 years. Post pandemic, the percentage of time worked in main and satellite offices is projected to decline by 12% and 9% respectively, while flex office space will hold approximately constant (7).
The type of hybrid workplace model adopted will vary across organizations, based on talent availability, business, and functional requirements. For example, professional-development journeys (being physically present in the office at the start and working remotely later) and project stages (being physically co-located for initial planning and remotely executing the project) could be key influencers on the model adopted (7). Organizations will have to take a fresh look at office space required and how it impacts collaboration, productivity, culture, and work experience.
Digitizing the Hybrid Workplace
However, creating and managing a hybrid workplace / flexi-workplace requires a lot of planning and coordination across multiple teams (Business, HR, Real-Estate & Facilities, Transport etc.) as well as coordination with employees on a real-time basis. To achieve this, organizations will have to
Technology will play a central role in enabling the hybrid workplaces and their associated operations. It is required to connect the disparate office assets into a holistic interactive system. Workplace digitization will bring all the concerned stakeholders onto a common platform and ensure seamless planning and coordination at scale. A digital workplace platform will also provide decision-makers (CXOs) visibility on their workforce operations and enable real-time business decision-making.
A digitized hybrid workplace will not only improve employee productivity but will also lead to savings in real-estate-related costs (rent, operations & maintenance cost, etc.) which form the largest cost category outside of compensation for many organizations. It is estimated that a 30% reduction in real-estate costs could be realized over time (7). It will also increase organizational flexibility and make it resilient to future disruptions.
Due to the pandemic, digital transformation is expected to become a key determinant of competitive advantage. According to a Gartner study, organizations that have already invested in digital innovation are 2.7 times more likely to be top performers than the organizations investing in the future (4).
Hence, as the year 2020 comes to an end, CHROs and COOs should start planning their organization’s return-to-office policies for the next year and include workspace digitization initiatives as part of the same. This is critical to ensure an engaged workforce and to build a resilient organization of the future.
WorkInSync is a technology solution that enables organizations to establish hybrid workplaces and enables employees’ safe return-to-office.
WorkInSync is backed by our decade-long experience creating MoveInSync – the world’s largest commute platform that is currently used by 150 global enterprises, including 38 of the Fortune 500.
World Economic Outlook, October 2020: A Long and Difficult Ascent, IMF
COVID-19 CFO Pulse Check #3, 2020, BCG
40% of CEOs worry about post-pandemic social, economic unrest: Mint-Bain survey, 2020, Livemint.com
2021 CIO Agenda: Seize This Opportunity for Digital Business Acceleration, 2020, Gartner
The Evolving State of Digital Transformation, 2020, BCG
Purpose of place: History and future of office, 2020, Cushman & Wakefield, Centre for Urban & Real Estate Analysis (The George Washington University)
Reimagining the office and work life after COVID-19, 2020, McKinsey & Company
Office Workplace Survey, 2017, Senion
We have a space problem: Benchmarks reveal $150 billion in office waste, 2019, Density
What 12,000 Employees Have to Say About the Future of Remote Work, 2020, BCG
New Survey Data Shows Possible Scenarios for the Future of Offices, Commuting, and Cities, 2020, Salesforce