The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was responsible for massive changes to the business world. Previously, remote work was seen as a perk, but it quickly became standard across most businesses. With restrictive government regulations and shutdowns, companies had to rapidly adopt digital tools to ensure they could stay operational and employees could function.
As things return to a more normal state, many office workers have stated a preference for having flexibility in their work arrangements, as they feel it substantially increases their productivity and flexibility.
This has led to organizations considering a hybrid work model. A hybrid work model is different from a fully remote work model, which means all employees work at home full time, and companies no longer have an office.
With remote work work options becoming more popular, it begs the question of whether or not offices are really necessary, or how much physical office space does a business really need?
What is a hybrid workplace model?
A hybrid model is a workplace that offers both remote and office working. This model is becoming more popular as it allows employees to work remotely on certain days, but also has the option of coming into the office for meetings or work that requires face-to-face interaction. The timing of who is in the office at what time can depend on how the business is structured, but employees can often come together at least one or two days a week to work remotely with team members.
A hybrid workforce will mean companies may no longer have the same requirements for physical office space in the future. The conventional, formal environments of the past are becoming less and less common as more companies go for a more leisurely and flexible atmosphere. This has allowed for easier team work, as well as creativity and connection.
What about the office?
With employees predominately made up of remote workers, businesses may question the expense of investing in physical office space and if it is necessary. The size and needs of the company will dictate whether the same amount of space is required.
Rather than giving up an office space completely, to cater to a changing workforce many companies are choosing to change how they use their office, such as releasing unused space, or adding more meeting rooms.
However, there are a number of factors that should be taken into account when considering downsizing or eliminating office space:
It makes sense: investing in a digital office would not only save a lot in rental fees, overheads, and IT infrastructure costs, it would mean you can focus more on the core aspects of your business.
A smaller office would lower your out-of-pocket expenses significantly. Your business would still be responsible for providing employees with work devices, to ensure they can function efficiently between their remote and on-site office, as well as maintaining the level of security required to protect your business assets.
A physical office location can provide an opportunity to create your business brand and image, which translates to building trust with clients and stakeholders. Being visible and available can be an important part of creating professional connections. In a digital workplace, there is less of the personal touch communication through video or phone calls, even though the interaction is just as effective.
Working remotely has boosted productivity among office employees, with a study showing people who work at home are 13% more productive. Remote employees report less stress, more efficiency because they’re not spending as much time on breaks or commuting, and are far more satisfied with their work. The payoff for organization is attrition rates are down by 50%, meaning keeping good employees is much easier and reduces the need to hire new talent more frequently.
The speed of digital transformation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated several years. Cloud computing has offered businesses the opportunity to shift away from traditional on-site servers and systems, to a more flexible and scalable solution. Microsoft Azure allows seamless management of employees in remote locations, while providing the ability to scale up or down as needed. Cloud-based Microsoft 365 brings together communication and collaboration tools and applications (such as Teams) that enables your team to work uninterrupted from anywhere, with access to business information in real-time.
It is vital for businesses to support their employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This increases employee engagement, as they are more productive when they feel valued. Company culture doesn’t necessarily break down if employees choose flexible working arrangements – in fact, it is more likely to be strengthened.
If most staff are choosing to work offsite most of the time, your physical office space may need to be repurposed. Create a collaborative space that engenders connection and collaboration when employees are onsite. Alternatively, if your physical office space becomes largely redundant, team building and connection activities can be held in rented conference rooms regularly.
What is your digital office solution?
Regardless of how much office space you need (or if any at all) your business and employee productivity needs can be met. Adapting to new work models and work environments can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to stop you from staying focused on the future. Technology Solutions can help you find the best digital workplace options that suit your unique business needs.