Until recently, the term ‘blended working’ was rarely heard outside of management seminars. As a principle, it means the development of a workforce that works partly in the office, and partly remotely. These two different work locations blend seamlessly, using a variety of technologies, to ideally create a happier and more efficient workforce.
A company can either have a workforce that is divided into office and remote workers or a workforce where everyone will work both remotely and at a central base during their working week.
From theory to reality
While some companies were already operating a blended working system, the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly made it less of an aspiration and more of a necessity. As many companies had to run to catch up, rapidly introducing remote working practices they’d perhaps talked about for years, few people perhaps grasped the size and significance of the changes that were about to take place. With vaccines on the horizon, offices are not about to become a thing of the past, but we’re unlikely to go back to business as usual.
Physical and cultural
The move towards blended working spaces is both partly cultural and partly physical. These two aspects inform and support one another, as workers adjust to the new flexibilities and ways of working. Office spaces will need to reflect these changes while remaining responsive as they develop further.
The future office will need to evolve from a centralised space in which everyone gathers, to a central hub to which other spaces will be connected. These other spaces may be work pods elsewhere in the building, co-working spaces, or the laptop of an employee wherever they find themselves.
A smaller central office space
The office space of the future may well still require a permanent set-up for a smaller number of office-based staff. Many of these will be involved with supporting remote workers. These workers will probably still require a more traditional office design, just on a smaller scale.
A co-working office space
With blended working, some remote workers may potentially be coming into the office certain days of the week or month. The numbers may be flexible. To meet the demands of these workers, a separate space in the office, configured like a co-working space may be appropriate. Workers may book a place or have a space set aside for specific days of the month when they will be in the office.
As vaccines are rolled out and face to face meetings are once again part of working life, then there will still need to be space for meetings. Smaller meeting pods may be appropriate, perhaps where remote workers taking advantage of the co-working space can discuss issues with the office-based staff.
A strong culture of blended working, with an office set-up that supports it will enable companies to attract and retain the best talent. Helping to support remote workers, while at the same time fostering a sense of teamwork and shared identity will be key to the success of this approach. If you need advice on how to introduce blended working successfully, speak to the expert team at Flow today.