Watch out for the Hybrid Office …coming to a town near you

Designed and fitted by us – stylish, comfortable kitchen and breakout area for SharkNinja

The pandemic demonstrated that many of us could do our jobs at home. As a result, since March 2020, companies have been frantically rethinking styles of working and workplaces.

According to a survey by ISG staff need on average three days a week (2.91) in the office to achieve maximum productivity. While those who chose to work from home full time reported they were 5% less likely to meet their objectives when compared to those who were working in the office.

As a compromise, in an attempt to reduce the expense of office space as well as their employees’ desire for flexibility and their firm’s productivity, companies are opting for a middle way – the hybrid office.

Designed and fitted by us – choice of collaboration areas at SharkNinja HQ

In our previous blog we predicted a third type of “office” being created – a place where people could balance working from the office and working from home. These third places would be located closer to employee homes and remove the need for people to travel to city centres to collaborate.

In no time at all it seems this is already happening – the “out of office office” is already being embraced by insurance giant Aviva throughout the UK.

In York for example, Aviva is closing one of its offices in a corporate move that will see more staff work from home beyond the pandemic.

According to plans reported in the regional press, the firm which employs over 2,000 people in the city, is closing its Monks Cross site but retaining the city centre office on Wellington Row. The consolidation is expected to be complete by 31 March. The move comes as the business states the way it uses its office space “is changing significantly”.

However, despite the planned Aviva office closures which will impact sites across the country, the firm has claimed there are no plans for job losses in York. A spokesperson says: “Our intention is to invest in our sites to provide a more vibrant, inspiring, and flexible workspace for our people.

“As a result, we are making changes to a number of our offices across the UK, which means we are combining office space in some locations and reducing the space in others. We are not leaving any town or city where we currently have a presence.”

Aviva are intending to allow every employee to spend a few days working from home and they plan to conduct a survey to ascertain employee preferences. The city office with be adapted to hot-desking and breakout space for employees when they come in on their office-based and collaboration days.

Designed and fitted by us – choice of seating /meeting booths at SharkNinja HQ

Other organisations may go the same way. You need only look at a recent survey from the British Council for Offices (BCO) to understand that the way we work has changed forever – and that most office workers do not intend to spend five days in the workplace once the pandemic is finally over.

The speed at which we are seeing many more businesses take a serious look at flexible workplace strategies over the last few months is remarkable.

Big names like Google, Twitter, BP, Schroders, and PwC are now taking active steps or publicly stating their intentions to offer their employees more flexibility over how and where they work in the long-term.

Companies are already offering employees additional flexibility to access ‘third’ spaces and co-working spaces to work outside their home.

Experts predict that although organisations may be adapting their ways of working, firms also recognise that innovation and success are dependent on collaboration and trust which is driven in large part from in-person interaction. So the office is not going away.

Rather, workplaces (other than HQs) will be smaller and focused on engagement and building trust. They will be designed completely differently and be highly amenitised to encourage teamwork, partnership working and social contact.

Designed and fitted by us – informal meeting area at SharkNinja HQ

We believe in future there will be three places to work, the traditional central HQ, home and a third space, with all three operating seamlessly. Technology will be at the forefront of this transition, ensuring that firms can blend in-person and digital working. It looks like Aviva is leading the way.