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Gleb Tsipursky

Lean

Redefining Hybrid Office Space to Boost Quality Employee Productivity

Remodeling the work setup will help teams shift successfully across post-pandemic workplaces

Published: Thursday, October 14, 2021 - 12:03

How should organizations—including their quality departments—reshape office space to maximize productivity in the future of work? What will the new workspace—from the office to homes—look like in the future? We know it will be different. But to survive and thrive in the post-Covid world, you need to adopt best practices on returning to the office.

Our hybrid future

Surveys say two-thirds to three-quarters of employers plan to operate on a mainly hybrid schedule after the pandemic. Some big corporations even transitioned to having all of their employees work from home permanently.

Employee preference is a crucial factor in the hybrid-first model. Eight major surveys found a quarter to a third of employees want a fully remote schedule permanently and over two-thirds a hybrid schedule. Less than 15 percent prefer full-time in-office.

An employee’s desire for full-time remote work must correlate with task requirements and proven reliability. Some roles, like call center staff, are well-suited to remote work as they require no systematic collaboration.

Below, I have outlined best practices on transforming workspaces based on 14 consulting projects of leaders and organizations I helped guide during these transitions.

Use of work space

The primary use of the office going forward will not be for individual work, as it was before the pandemic. Instead, the office will serve as a shared space for collaboration and team-building activities for the majority of the employees.

Sure, some staff will end up doing individual work in the office, in-between collaborative tasks, but the large majority of tasks will be collaborative. Individual tasks will overwhelmingly be done at home, where they are much more productive.

Currently, typical offices have 80 percent of their space dedicated to personal use and 20 percent shared space. That needs to be changed.

A hybrid model will cut costs on real estate and in-office services and products when staff less frequently come in.

While it feels nice to see each other more often to catch up, consider the following. Upon consulting, companies found that having their employees come to the office only three days per week saves the company about 20 percent to 30 percent in their overhead costs. However, if employees come in only once a week, they can reduce those costs about 60 percent to 70 percent, which is a much greater deal. Why should you pay more?

Reshape your office space

Start adjusting your office space by planning for anticipated usage.

First, have the team leaders rank their preferred days of the week on a five-point scale. Then, use survey staff and an algorithm to assign teams on various days to maximize satisfaction and avoid unjustifiable employee overflow.

Separately determine your space needs for massive events such as quarterly retreats and extensive in-person training, alternatively renting other spaces if needed.

Next, make plans to decrease your real estate footprint accordingly. Consider arranging some of your office space in coworking venues to mitigate the risks either of excess or insufficient space.

After that, you’ll want to transform your office space layout. In the hybrid model, in-office work will focus much more on direct collaboration with team members. It involves working alongside other team members who you can quickly ask for clarification or to whom you can provide guidance. Upgrade your video technology in shared spaces to facilitate meetings and cater to cross-functional teams.

Most individual cubicles and offices will have to go. Keep them at any level only for team leaders who need private spaces for sensitive conversations, as well as anyone else who needs such areas. Employees should use laptops, not desktop computers, which allows hot-desking.

Maintain current OSHA guidelines on pandemic precautions to reduce liability.

Funding for home offices

The hybrid-first model highlights the home office as a permanent arrangement for every company. A separate budget must be provided for employees’ well-equipped and comfortable home offices, or with their membership in a coworking space if necessary.

Providing employees with hotspot plans will alleviate risks of internet outages or slowdowns. Likewise, you could encourage employees to take various steps toward risk mitigation from their homes. Part of your responsibility is to incorporate them into your business continuity planning and enterprise risk management strategies.

Altogether, an initial fund of $3,000 for the home office transition, plus an annual budget of $2,000 for maintenance, should be sufficient for most employees. Add at least $500 annually for working parents of young children to address parenting needs connected to working remotely.

Conclusion

Remodeling the work setup will help teams shift successfully across post-pandemic workplaces. Employers should consider their employees’ preferences within hybrid teams. Relevant needs must also be integrated into every business plan. Ergo, leaders should view research data objectively and use insights wisely to build a mutually satisfying workspace.

Discuss

About The Author

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

Gleb Tsipursky

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps quality professionals make the wisest decisions on the future of work as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. He is the best-selling author of seven books, including Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage. His cutting-edge thought leadership has been featured in more than 650 articles in prominent publications such as Harvard Business Review, Fortune, and USA Today. His expertise comes from more than 20 years of consulting for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox and more than 15 years in academia as a cognitive scientist at UNC-Chapel Hill and Ohio State. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter@gleb_tsipursky, Instagram@dr_gleb_tsipurskyLinkedIn, and register for his Wise Decision Maker Course.