01 . Aug . 2022

POV: Going Hybrid- Are Our Office Spaces Ready For Disruption?

by ZIOKS

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Zioks: shared office space in Kolkata

Summary: The last two years have shifted our perception of work substantially, and helped us visualize a workspace built on flexibility, adaptability, and human connections.

The evolution of work and offices is a continuous process. Even before the new normal, workspace digitization, creating millennial-centric work experiences, accessing new dimensions of flexibility through coworking, etc., were among the significant changes in the work life of any professional. Now, as the world slowly goes back to the office one step at a time, what better way than a hybrid work life that prioritizes the safety and flexibility, as well as the health and wellbeing of every individual. But how does it do so? The lessening severity of the pandemic has caused people to think past the barriers of social distancing and value direct, human, connections especially in their teams, peers, and employees. For the employer, it means bringing their workforce on-site, on their terms, and without any looming threats to their employees’ health and wellbeing. On the other hand, for the employee, it means stepping out of their home offices every once in a while and collaborating with their teams in real-time; eliminating any possible symptoms of the work-from-home syndrome like loneliness, early stages of depression, etc.

What Makes Hybrid Work Work?

Yes, returning to the office for many of us can feel like some semblance of normalcy from before the pandemic redefined ‘normal’; for others it can also mean giving up on working in their pajamas or brewing their favorite coffee in the kitchen. Hybrid work is the sweet spot that combines the best of both worlds, keeping your favorite work routines and preferences intact; and sealing the deal by bringing back teams to the office for employers. According to the Edelman Data x Intelligence survey of 31,000 people in over 31 countries, 73% of employees want flexible, remote work options, while 66% of business owners are already redesigning office space to accomodate a hybrid workstyle. The root of such a shift in priorities lies in the reshaping of our identities and worldview from the perspective of what matters the most, in the face of deep loss whether that’s family, health, business, or purpose. In other words, we’re not the same people that went to work from home in early 2020. While we need to give flexibility and wellbeing the value they deserve, it’s been found that most of us need to find a sense of purpose and inclusiveness in-person, as over 60% of employees onboarded in the past two years feel alienated and 64% have weaker relationships with their teams. LinkedIn Data reveals that teams with higher internal mobility retain employees 2x longer than others, because of trust building in a team that drives higher creativity and innovation.      

Priorities have shifted

Credits: Work Trend Index Annual Report 2022

Returning To The Office, But Not The Same One As We Left

When the pandemic began, employers were forced to operate remotely, irrespective of their reservations about it because of survival instinct. That includes many employees embracing virtual work to hang on to their income sources amidst all the uncertainty. While a few weeks of remote work may feel like a blip in the universe, 24 months of virtual work has made them reimagine their roles in the office and, most importantly, crave in-person workplace partnerships that extend beyond Zoom meetings and Skype chats. To make such an intentional, wellbeing-first transition, a hybrid workstyle brings employees closer to each other, which, with time, can develop into core values and purpose based on collaboration, mutual respect, and building each other up. Employers that move in-sync with human-connection-centered work preferences play a monumental role in providing guidance, clarity, and resources to their employees, including team managers and members. This narrows down any idealistic, one-size-fits-all approach in bringing people back to office; instead, it paves way for a flexible, technology-led, workplace culture that supports connectivity and productivity in the long run. 

Then What Does a Hybrid Workspace Look Like?  

The main ingredient to building a creative, collaborative hybrid model that actually works is employers on-site experience. For the first time in the history of working, employers need to create a whole new, purpose-driven, way of working together to make it worth it for the employees. That means leaders come together to draft meaningful workplace value propositions based on the fundamentals of interdependent and independent work. It’s something that employers can take inspiration from the success stories of companies like Paylocity which has been operating on a hybrid model long before the pandemic began.  

However, that doesn’t mean that crafting such an exceptional hybrid work experience will replace virtual work because employees will be still working from home for the majority of their time. On the contrary, it raises the bar of technology requirements for businesses to deliver a more immersive, ‘virtual’, work experience in the future, as closest to an in-person setting. Researchers also predict that with advancements in AR & VR technologies, digital worlds like the metaverse can also be a preferred virtual workplace setting in the near future.  

Hybrid Work Is Inevitable

Now that every other company is announcing itself to be a hybrid workplace, the realization that it’s easier said than done will soon follow. The gray areas include finding the right balance between freedom to spend time at work and getting complacent with too much flexibility. For managers, this may cause a huge disruption, especially when compared to the old ways of working. From coordination, and accountability, to measuring productiveness –– going hybrid would mean redefining every parameter. However, there’s a silver lining to all this, a pre-existing place of harmony that is closest to the sum of collaborative, creative, hybrid, offices – coworking spaces. The wellness-centered, collaborative, concept of coworking spaces, which makes them less structured and more creative, with a collective identity of community –– is on the same lines that leaders and employers need to build their workspace upon. Going to work as a destination for the experience rather than an obligation is something that has fueled the coworking industry ahead of its time.              

Designing a unique coworking experience is what drives us here, and our workspaces are built for individuals to nurture symbiotic, professional, relationships that flourish on flexibility, connections, and collaboration. Technology helps us to provide meaningful amenities that serve our clients effectively and faster. A brainchild of our leadership team with years of success in the corporate industry, the many facets of our coworking hub encompass the vision of next-generation, hybrid, work.  

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