Office Space Design in a Hybrid Work World. How to Plan One Well?

The hybrid office space design is a response to the dynamic changes in the ways we work, which have intensified in recent years. Until fairly recently, teleworking was regarded as a privilege of a few, rarely available to full-time employees who usually worked from the office. The remote mode was dominated by freelancers or direct-hire employees. However, the pandemic made us radically re-evaluate those approaches to organising work. So how do we approach the design of flexible hybrid offices to meet new expectations?

Understanding the needs of employees

By understanding the specific needs of employees, you can transform the office into a place worth the commute. Today’s remote work mode issues reveal that teleworking conditions often fail to meet employees’ expectations in terms of convenience and efficiency. People have to cope with a variety of frustrating setbacks, such as inadequate collaborative space, limited opportunities to share resources, or difficulties in maintaining teamwork at a high level. 

The office space should offer solutions that employees lack at home, such as zones that enable seamless collaboration and knowledge sharing within easy reach of their workstations. The use of flexible solutions, such as mobile office partitions, adjustable desks or hushSpot coworking benching, is a way to create workplaces that support a variety of needs and ways of working. 

Flexible and modular furniture solutions

Working in a hybrid model is all about flexibility, so it makes sense to fit the office with solutions that can easily adapt to dynamic ways of working. Flexible design requires mobile systems, such as Hushoffice portable acoustic cabins and booths or multi-media screens on castors. You can use them to reconfigure the office space quickly and efficiently, adapting it to current needs.

Acoustic office pods like hushFree.M can be used to provide privacy and comfort during meetings instead of building conventional meeting rooms. Designed to Class A per ISO 23351-1:2020, these solutions offer adequate sound insulation for business meetings or informal conversations. The pods can be easily moved around the office to adapt their locations to the teams’ current needs. 

Work zones and their acoustic parameters

The integration and synergy of various work zones should be the objective in the hybrid office. You have to ensure optimum acoustic performance for each of them as well. Arranging the office space successfully involves each zone enhancing the functions of its neighbouring areas and not disrupting the work in them.

Designing spaces for conversation, focused work and dedicated collaboration with their unique acoustic requirements in mind is recommended. Speech privacy is the priority to ensure in the conversation area. This can be achieved through the use of acoustic partitions or office work and meet pods. Conversely, a light background hum in areas for spontaneous interaction will create a more welcoming atmosphere. 

Specifying each work zone’s acoustic parameters must use a high degree of precision so that the main zone functions are provided for: from high sound isolation in areas requiring deep focus to moderate levels of background noise in communal spaces.

Technology for communication between remote and in-person workers

Companies must ensure that their areas for in-person and video meetings have been properly designed and meet the requirements of organising either of them. Private meeting spaces are necessary for managers and employees. These facilitate routine face-to-face interaction, confidential conversations and idea sharing. 

Videoconferencing is part of office daily work, so separate quiet spaces suitable for virtual collaboration are recommended in the open floor. This will prevent employees from occupying large meeting rooms for one-off online calls. Compact acoustic booths like hushFree.S will work very well in this case. They are perfect for both longer video conferences and short phone calls with clients or colleagues

Spaces for socialising and networking

Upgrading communal spaces promotes frequent and relaxed social interaction, which is essential for the smooth functioning of the hybrid office. Talking face-to-face regularly helps developing a close rapport between colleagues, as it creates an atmosphere of openness and trust. This fosters relationships and collaboration that are difficult to achieve via virtual channels. 

The needs of neurodivergent and introverted staff must not be overlooked when designing a hybrid office. It should be highlighted that both excessive noise and need to socialise for most of their time in the office can make it difficult for them to work at their best. Acoustic office pods will provide them with a friendly environment for meetings and focused work. 

Diverse zones in a hybrid office for different needs

Companies seeking to boost employee engagement are introducing diversity into the office space by furnishing and revamping areas such as relaxation zones, focused workspaces, collaborative spaces and other amenities. These measures aim to better support a wide range of employee needs, from socialising, focusing to developing creativity. The hybrid office should become a place where people are happy to return to because they feel that their individual needs are understood.

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