08 Nov 2021

How to make hybrid and remote work environments more fulfilling

In our last article, we pressed the point that the best office solutions are the ones you don’t even notice. They’re the ones that don’t interrupt anyone’s day but help eliminate interruptions instead.

The key to making any workspace more fulfilling, whether remote or in-office, is through supporting and enabling the environment. Experts believe that flexible work environments enable employees to balance work and life, making them overall healthier. With healthier employees, companies have observed enhanced innovation and better productivity in their workforce.

To learn more about the benefits of flexible workspaces, check out our article.

As beneficial as flexible work environments are to the employee’s wellbeing, there’s more to a hybrid workspace than meets the eye. You need the right systems and infrastructure to make the shift to a hybrid model.

This article runs through what the experts and lead business minds say about flexible work habits and the future.

How the remote and flexible workplace is changing

Pre-pandemic, back in 2018, Bill Gates made a prediction:

“The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.”

No one could have guessed that his theory would be put to the test in such a thorough, worldwide event.

COVID-19 forced most companies to implement remote work practices without much notice. Although, despite the stress and scramble for companies to adapt to remote work conditions, employees rose to the challenge.

As of 2021, more than two-thirds of employers reported a rise in productivity with remote workers. A remote employee is more rested, less stressed, and more productive with the hours they do work.

These days, employees are insisting on flexible work conditions, leaving inflexible jobs in favor of flexible ones. What’s more, the employees who can make this transition easily are the ones who are highest in demand: your top talent.

Just as Mr. Gates predicted, flexible work habits are giving some companies an edge, convincing the most skilled workers to migrate to companies that offer more flexibility. These companies have an easier job hiring the best workers in their field.

Here are some of the benefits that make flexible or remote working attractive to employees:

  • Better work-life balance
  • More family time
  • Saved time without transporting
  • Saved money without transporting
  • Reduced commute stress

According to FlexJob’s fourth annual Super Survey, 85 percent of millennials want to telecommute 100 percent of the time and 54 percent want to work a flexible work schedule. 

Despite how successfully we’ve transitioned to remote work, both employees and companies still find value in in-office experiences. Some people want to work away from their homes once in a while: we’re social creatures and need emotional connections with both our coworkers and environments.

Not to mention, the best cultures are grown in person. Having shared spaces for teams to meet and work together nurtures the growth of a company’s identity and culture.

Companies and employees alike value employee engagement. Face-to-face interactions between colleagues strengthen a sense of belonging and loyalty to the company that can’t be recreated online.

Getting your company ready for remote and hybrid workers

The start of the pandemic was harsh, leaving rough edges as companies forced remote work conditions with little to no preparation. Now, nearly two years later, we have a chance to do things right.

To fulfill is to “develop the full potential” of a circumstance, person, place, or thing. The best way to nurture potential is to nurture something or someone’s innate gifts and talents. Companies need to do just that: help their employees play to their strengths.

Employees can’t focus on their development if they’re endlessly bogged down by technicalities, systems, and time-wasters. This hindrance is the reason 53 percent of companies spect their IT budgets to increase in 2022. Now that remote working is here to stay, whether it’s full-time or hybrid, companies are spending millions updating their systems and hardware.

The world has turned digital and it’s time to invest in the technology to support it. Many companies realize that technology can help give them the edge to stay ahead of their competition.

What to consider when going hybrid

It’s refreshing to realize that companies now have the time to plan and process how to implement hybrid work successfully moving forward. Now that we know some strengths and pitfalls of remote work, companies can make educated decisions on what to invest in and what they should cut out.

Here are a few of the tips we’ve learned:

Survey your employees to find out what they need

Now, more than ever, it’s important to hear employee voices. With employees being remote at least some of the time, office managers have fewer opportunities to witness their struggles and successes.

Send out questionnaires and surveys when planning big changes, after implementing changes, or to find out if changes are needed.

50 percent of employees appreciate a company that takes an interest in their wellbeing. More often than not, an employee who feels appreciated develops a sense of belonging and loyalty within a company.

Keeping track of your employee’s needs and acting on the findings will help the workplace run smoothly, encourage employee retention, and improve the overall transition to hybrid work.

Check out our article for more tips on how to improve the office experience for your employees.

Create the infrastructure that will enable flexible working

Switching from an in-office to a hybrid work environment usually means a change in office infrastructure. Desks that were once reserved full-time for individual employees may now be a waste of real estate half the time.

More and more companies are turning toward hybrid work conditions where employees are only in the office 50 to 60 percent of the week. The first step toward establishing an office infrastructure is to develop your flexibility strategy.

Although we’re further along with understanding flexible work environments than we were two years ago, there’s still a lot of greywaters. Every single company is different; what worked for one company might not work for another.

The best way to iron out your strategy is to have a clear vision of your endpoint. Then, develop a solid business case establishing your company values and what you hope to achieve.

Next, consider your company’s experiences over the past year and a half. How have your employees handled remote work? Which teams struggled and which thrived? This stage is where surveys might come in handy. To redesign your company’s infrastructure, you need “inside information” from employees and managers to decide on the most helpful infrastructure.

How do your employees picture a flexible work environment? Is their vision similar to the company’s vision? Can you compromise? To develop a solid strategy, you’ll need to consider all affected parties as a whole.

Lastly, come up with an implementation plan. When doing so, keep in mind both the company’s perspective and employees’ perspective. Make sure the company’s goals and aims are clear to the employees. The more people who are on board with the transition, the better.

Room booking systems

While redesigning your infrastructure, you’ll want to consider meeting spaces. If you’re saving on real estate by implementing desk hotelling or hot desks, you’ll still need spaces for teams to meet up and collaborate.

Meeting rooms come with multiple challenges including no-show meetings, room squatters, and incoordinate booking tools. Fine-tune the room booking experience by investing in a reliable room booking system.

Joan’s meeting room booking system syncs seamlessly with your in-house calendars. Employees can check a room’s schedule or even book an available room directly from the Joan 6 touch screen e-ink display.

The best meeting room booking systems offer real-time schedules, on-the-go booking, wayfinding, check-in, and room analytics — features that are available with the Joan meeting room booking system.

With Joan, employees can reserve a room on the go from the room’s touchscreen display or on the Joan mobile app. The meeting room booking system all but eliminates squatters and wasted meeting rooms due to no-shows. What’s more, office managers can use room analytics to better understand how rooms are being used and how to improve the experience.

For tips on improving your conference room experience, check out our Best Practices article.

Desk hotelling

If your flexible strategy includes desk booking, your company will need a desk hotelling solution. The best solutions are simple to use, improving employee experience rather than hindering.

For example, the great thing about Microsoft is that the company keeps releasing new solutions that sync with their existing ones. Microsoft Teams syncs with your Outlook calendar, your outlook calendar syncs with your mail solution… it’s all familiar territory under one umbrella.

Ultimately, the best desk booking solution should sync with your existing solutions too. Joan’s meeting room booking system syncs with your existing calendars. However, where Joan gets really impressive is that their meeting room booking system also offers desk booking solutions.

The Joan app is truly mobile and versatile, allowing employees to book desks and rooms directly from the app before even arriving at the office. With the app, employees waste very little time searching for available desks or rooms. With a few taps, any bookable workspace can be reserved.

Desk hotelling has never been so easy. To learn more, find out how hotelling can give you a competitive edge.

BONUS: Wayfinding

I don’t know about you, but some people take years to memorize the names of meeting rooms. Let’s say you have a meeting in a room named “Spielberg.” By the time your meeting rolls around, you can’t remember if it’s in the room “Nolan,” “Jackson,” or “Spielberg.”

Not to mention, some employees book their workstations the night before. In the morning, tracking down one desk in dozens, if not hundreds, can be a real-time-waster.

The Joan booking solution offers, well, a solution. The app displays a floor plan, helping employees navigate the office. If they are ever unsure about room names or desk locations, they can whip out their mobile devices and check.

Takeaway

In the end, the best solutions are the ones that don’t require excess thought to use: you need it and it’s there.

Every flexible office space would benefit from a desk booking solution. Whether your employees have a designated desk to themselves or not, flexible workspaces imply there’s flexibility in the office. In today’s day and age, most companies have learned that most employees work best when they can choose their work environment.

What’s more, every office, not just the flexible ones, can run smoother with a desk booking solution.

“Yes, we love our Joans. It’s completely changed how we manage our meeting rooms and I would say we would not be able to manage things effectively without them.” - John Smyth, Founder and CEO of Invest by Rubicoin.

Contact us to learn how Joan can improve your office.