If your organization is in the process of planning your office layout for the future or considering switching to a hybrid office model, there are many decisions to make, and in a time that’s still constantly changing.
What we’ve come to realize after the events of 2020 is that the physical office can mean many different things to today’s work environment. It can be a place that represents corporate culture, a destination for gathering and collaborating, or an environment that’s perfectly set up to help maximize productivity.
The same physical office can also meet different needs for each employee. Some might enjoy the space as a place to socialize and beat feelings of isolation that come with working from home. Others might value the space for being a distraction-free environment that helps them get the job done.
Knowing that your workforce can have drastically different needs like this, how do you go about designing a physical space that can meet all these needs? And how can you be confident that what you design today will continue to meet evolving needs in the future?
The secret for futureproofing your physical office space is to take a scientific approach, one that’s based on a deep analysis of your staff’s work style personas.
The Scientific Approach to the Hybrid Office in Three Steps
To get to the most effective solution, the scientific approach can be broken down into 3 steps.
1. Get Stakeholder Alignment On Your Strategy
The very first undertaking to designing your physical office space for the long term is to get complete stakeholder alignment on the future of your office. A few ways you can achieve this is by holding one-on-one interviews with your partners and executives, rolling out surveys to leadership, or consulting with experts in the matter. This crucial first step helps you make sure that your leadership is on the same page from the very beginning of your design process before major decisions are made. Having this leadership alignment in place will then give you the confidence you need to design the right workspace for your organization with everyone on board.
2. Analyze Your Staff’s Work Personas
Next, it’s time to discover what works best for your team right now, and what they’re going to be needing in the future. Arriving at this understanding involves assessing each and every employee’s:
After assessing your staff, you’ll be able to assign each employee into one of a few workstyle personas. By categorizing your whole workforce into one of these personas, you’ll be able to make sense of the makeup of your entire staff pool.
Assessing your staff in this way will arm you with the data you need to inform your next steps.
3. Create Workspace Solutions Based on Your Findings
- Current preferred work style (i.e. in-office, remote, or hybrid)
- Preferred work style in the future (which workstyle they would like to transition into)
- Current productivity levels for focus, collaboration, and client meetings
It’s now time to use the data you’ve acquired to design the best workspace solution for your staff. This can take a number of different forms. It might look like creating the best layout for staff in your physical office, complete with focus spaces, socialization areas, and high-tech meeting rooms based on the makeup of your staff personas.
You might go through this process and choose instead to dedicate your physical office space to a place that’s available for meeting spaces “as-needed”, rather than requiring your staff to come in every day. To make this work, you might also choose to get rid of rows of desks and cubicles and assign that space to meeting and collaboration areas instead.
You might even take the data you’ve obtained through this process and choose to design a more flexible work environment altogether. Perhaps you choose to give all levels of staff the freedom to work from home, opening up the opportunity for you to downsize, save tremendously on real estate costs, and invest that capital elsewhere.
No two workspace solutions will look the same, but by this stage, you can feel confident that the solution you’ve arrived at is based both on data and on strategy.
Use Factual Data to Inform Your Design
Workplace design is changing overall, and it can be almost too easy to hop on a trend, assuming it’s the right move, without carefully considering if it works for your particular organization.
You might be in the know that law firms are shifting towards designs that offer more uniform seating arrangements, reducing the number of private offices to give all levels of staff access to prime spots and ensure they get equal enjoyment out of the same space.
Before assuming that a particular office design or space allocation like this one will work for you, be sure that your decision is based on:
- Factual data
- Your workplace strategy
- The specific needs of your personnel
- Future growth plans
This 3-step approach will arm you with the insight and data you need to make informed decisions on space that will effectively serve the needs of your workforce for years to come.
If you would like to learn more about how Aura is helping Canadian companies through this process, check out Pivvot; a new analytic software created to guide you through the steps.