There’s no shortage of studies indicating that employees have been highly productive while working remotely. But how do companies keep that momentum going as they navigate new office policies regarding worker flexibility?
Hear from Creative Business Interiors Vice President Rebecca Brown as she describes the purpose of the physical workplace and shares advice on returning to work in a hybrid format.
“We have all this data saying people don’t need to be in the office to be productive. But offices continue to reopen out of necessity. So, now what?” says Rebecca Brown, vice president of Creative Business Interiors. “What’s right for businesses? How do we make a hybrid model work?”
Brown cites the recent “What’s Up Remote” study conducted by DORIS Research, an Indianapolis-based firm founded by University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate Sam Julka. Late in 2020, DORIS collected data focusing on five business elements—collaboration, creativity, innovation, strategy, and productivity. Specifically, researchers wanted to know what each element would look like in a post-pandemic world. The results led to Hello Hybrid, a program Creative implements that facilitates organizations in designing a personalized hybrid work model.
Think of the five elements positioned in the shape of a pyramid, with innovation and creativity at the bottom. Those are the foundations of any organization and are necessary to inspire and manifest energy needed for the next level of the pyramid: collaboration and strategy. These elements generate tasks, which speak to productivity at the top of the pyramid.
“There are no tasks for me to be productive with if we haven’t already collaborated, strategized, and been creative and innovative. I would be responsible for nothing,” Brown says. “Productivity really comes down to an isolated task, and what we’ve learned is that if you can isolate the things you need to do—and do them effectively at home—that makes you feel good as a person. That’s why productivity is loud and clear driver of remote work.”
Brown recommends that businesses opting for a hybrid workforce fully unpack the term hybrid. “Companies are really starting to look at each position and evaluate its core functions,” she says. “Some are better supported by being in a physical space with others, and some are better supported in a remote individual space. How are you making determinations about space based on tasks?”
Collaborating, for example, doesn’t happen unless people are accessible to each other, which means remote employees likely won’t be working alone. “When I’m in the office, I’ve got creative energy and activity happening way more frequently during a meeting with 20 people than on a Zoom call with 20 people,” Brown says. “Remoteness has made cross-team and interdepartmental time—the concept of allowing everybody’s voice to be heard—more of a challenge. It’s harder to communicate and feed off of each other’s energy when you’re virtual.”
She suggests launching the hybrid workforce idea by physically modifying internal workspaces and encouraging a small group of usually remote employees to utilize these modified spaces in the office to fully engage in collaboration, creativity, innovation, strategy, and productivity. This can be accomplished by implementing workplace planning solutions such as new partitions and extra workstations. Digital Component Construction pods or soft wall architecture can provide additional privacy.
In the end, the key to a successful hybrid workforce is a willingness to adapt. “If employees are invested in the mission of the company, there will be alignment between the employer and the employee to find common ground on how to be inclusive and keep employees engaged,” Brown says. “That shows you’re all on the same page and working together through these hurdles.”
Original article written by Michael Popke, In Business July 2021 publication. View the article here.