How to Make the Hybrid Workspace Work?
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How to Make the Hybrid Workspace Work?

Questions

  • How to decide what's right for your team? Feedback from the team, management, and going forward.
  • The physical office and on-demand space. Acquiring and managing your office spaces.
  • Culture, people management, and inclusivity.

Key Takeaways

  • How to decide what's right for your team? Feedback from the team, management, and going forward.
    • Everyone is going through this together, the next moves are only trials to be iterated on. It'll be a phased approach and we must expect plans to change.
    • Surveys may not be accurate as everyone's comfort-levels and perceptions are changing daily - there's a disconnect between what people say they want vs what they'll do. Everyone's risk-appetite for safety is very different at the moment.
    • As with most things, there comes a point to make a decision and create rules going forward. Trying to please everyone may result in a solution that's not great for anyone.
    • Voluntary attrition may have been quite low over the past 12 months due to a slowed labour-market. Companies will evolve and demonstrate their values over the next few months and it's expected for the labour market to pick up and people to move around - it's important to remember that people leaving isn't necessarily a bad thing.
    • Go underneath the survey answers and attempt to understand the reasons behind them. For example, people may be hesitant to go into the office due to childcare or pets and supporting those specific reasons may result in a different answer.
  • The physical office and on-demand space. Acquiring and managing your office spaces.
    • Most companies planning to have employees in office 2-3 days a week and around 84% of companies will be working in a hybrid model.
    • There's a large pool of talent available if offering fully-remote positions, especially in tech.
    • Some opting for a lower-capacity reduced office with additional hot desk subscriptions.
    • Use gcal or software like Officeley or commonsurface.com for desk-booking.
    • Running hybrid meetings requires good tech - equip your meetings with static cameras and microphones (not just laptops) and ensure everyone knows how to use them.
    • Stagger your core hours to avoid public transport and rush-hour.
  • Culture, people management, and inclusivity.
    • Random and unintentional interactions in an office are often the biggest cross-functional learning opportunities. It's important as a business to determine your own appetite for such cross-functional culture.
    • Giving and receiving feedback is essential to growth and culture, and it's a lot harder virtually as there aren't those micro-interactions and small pointers. Virtually, it's often only the bigger things that seem to warrant a call.
    • Important to still run hybrid meetings with everyone dialling in virtually to ensure there's not a context or information debt, and enable everyone to feel included. Ensure the meeting owner is responsible for (and trained in) involving everyone in the meeting.
    • Don't stop asking how people are feeling, continue having the conversations. You can help facilitate this through pulse-surveys, Lattice, and even ask-me-anything anonymous google-forms.
    • If you're prioritising the cultural benefits that come with being in-office, think about how to incentivise presence - eating together, team food, a chef coming in weekly.

Participants & Breakout Rooms

Facilitator - keep the discussion going & present findings back to the main group Backup - help the facilitator & take any additional notes / pitch in with presenting the findings back to group if needed

Participants & Breakout Rooms:

NameRoleBreakout RoomAttending?
Michael Strange
Facilitator
1
Max Geerling
Backup
1
Anna Swift
1
Ilaria Barbon
1
Katie Ryland
1
Amanda Green
Facilitator
2
Robin Scharf
Backup
2
Jessica Knee
2
Cameo Choquer
2
Astrid Verstraete
2
Alexander d'Annunzio
Facilitator
3
Marta Kutt
Backup
3
Riva Cahn-Thompson
Backup
3
Charlie Bastier
3
Lydia Donaldson
3
Leo Carr
Facilitator
4
Alex Blakoe
4
Mo Basma
4
Aušrinė Keršanskaitė
Cat Atack
1
Michaela Peicheva
2
Gabby Cummins
Backup
3
Ferdinand Richmond
3
Katya Kapelushnk
3
Kat Suddaby
4
Ronja Thomson
4
Miguel Holloway
Backup
5
Thomas Desmoutier
Backup
5
Mari Haughey
5
Victoria Harrison
5
Group 1

Anna, Shipamax. The team went fully remote for covid. Real mix within team of 30 as to opinions how to move forward. Temporary office space in place currently.

Katie, Minerva. It's always been remote but now looking for an office-space. Team is spread around the UK and therapists are contractors. Requires private consult rooms.

Ilaria, Electron. Shrunk offices during covid. Team is split in opinion, tech very comfortable remote whilst business team keen to go back.

Max, environmental consultancy. Big difference between what people say they want and what they actually want. Previously a small office as sales out-and-about. Team spirit and camaraderie around sales pressure lacking remote. Culture is neglected remote.

Topic 1:

People often say something different to what they actually want. They say they want to be in the office but they're not factoring in exactly what the office is, where it is. People say 5-days-a-week but taking it with a pinch of salt.

How much do you give people the freedom to do what they want? Google are not allowing remote working unless it's been applied for more than 14 days a year. Trying to have fixed days where everyone is in, but that comes with paying for a larger space. Equipment costs of WFH are high too.

Mike thinks we need rules!

Max: What're the next generation of employees wanting - people are looking for more than a pay-cheque. We remember a huge value-add from being in the office around the team. Businesses are ongoing and will be around in the future and we need to think about what the next generation wants and needs. Being virtual is much more silo'd and less cross-functional. The essence of what business is about is culture.

A company needs to figure out their appetite toward culture. A fully-remote employee might not be a great hire if culture is at the forefront. Hyper-flexible is great but then you've got different timezones too. Going to end up doing fixed days by function.

Mike: We have an office space that's got room for growth because culture and eating together is important for us, we're starting at 20% max capacity, fixed days per team but totally optional for first few months. I expect we'll move toward 3-4 days a week required, 1-2 days WFH.

There's a differing risk appetite for when people are in the office in terms of covid-safe rules. Different standards for different employees - businesses have to care for their employees and that's really difficult to do remotely. Remotely it's harder to spot the nuances of feedback and how people are performing, it's harder to give and receive feedback virtually. Nurturing people is an in-person dynamic. Can companies use the desks of their partners across the country - share costs and get cross-cultural experience with suppliers and customers.

Interaction between teams either seem to be big wins or all the little negatives, there's little sharing of the small positives - that one good phone call, something too small to put in a Slack but in person you'd share those wins. Contractors are finding it to be quite a negative environment. Ilaria has found company newsletter here has helped - personal achievements, new pets.

Agree on a couple days and then hire out some co-working spaces for days but difficult in that you can't leave equipment there.

How do you manage the conversation with employees that aren't comfortable going back? It sounds like it could be more behavioural and we can't plan policy around individual employees. Employees need to adhere to the rules of the company. As the government is doing, we need to be returning in phases, we don't know what the future is and employees will be lost.

Expect attrition going forward but have a think about how you can retain your superstars.

Mike's breakout room (Anna notes)

  • Difference between what people say they want and how they end up using the office
  • How much freedom should we give teams? Can there be too much? Perhaps we need more of a clear management directive on the structure e.g. how many days working from home, specific days etc.
  • Need cross departmental collaboration, which is much easier in the office space
  • Interesting flipping of norms from working in the office to wfh → Google are making people opt out of their "norm", which they've set as working in the office
  • Fixed days by function
  • Different appetite for being in the office and different risk appetite too - huge range
  • Businesses have to care for their employees - so much harder when everyone's remote. How do you pick up on people struggling when they're at home?
  • Very little sharing of the little positives when remote e.g. a good call, free coffee etc. People tend not to share these things on Slack. People tend only to share big wins or all the little negatives.
  • City Pantry - pairing up teams who work well together and given specific days to be in the office. Can't go in on other days but on designated days have total freedom to go in when they want at the moment. Think longer term, 3-4 days pw fixed in the office and then people will work from home 1-2 days.
  • Need to return to the office in phases, help ease employees back into it
  • Do some teams have less regular requirement to be in the office e.g. dev team only in for team days that don't require them to use all their equipment
  • Likely to be a lot of movement soon in the labour market - people have stayed put during nervousness of covid but this will change and attrition will increase again
  • City Pantry put together list of MVPs to focus on their retention
  • Company newsletter quarterly boosted culture - new pets, funniest memes etc.

Group 2

Situations & focus:

  • growing company
  • London v. non-London
  • thinking about office, trial phase

Key themes:

  • spaces and practicalities
  • working norms (meetings etc)
  • psychological safety
  • social dynamics and team split

Spaces:

trials - co-working spaces

difficult WFH situation - trial for 1 or 2 people

some spaces seem very London - centric

physical space - not very big? what about covid rules and social distancing

how to ensure provider follows guidelines? wait until it's more safe?

How to work

hybrid work - how to do meetings when some people are in the room/office, some people aren't.

tech - easier to do each person individually, to be on zoom

Transport:

transport to and from office

busy from covid eg. public transport - people won't be comfortable to come in

people say different things to what they actually do - will people want to commute in as much as they think?

Timeframe

timeframes: May 17th - more of a trial.. June/beginning of July = office plans. . Autumn. [always in line with government guidelines]

booking and scheduling - how to? perm office + subscription: G mail calendar.

storage

scramble for hot desks - filled up quickly? benefit of having some room reserved for your company.

where to start: Priorities for your company (surveys)

Group 3 - Marta, Lydia, Riva, Charlie & Alex

joining with another company - how to go about it?

  • How do we maintain inclusivity in a remote setting? at home - ppl will feel alienated if they are not coming into the office
    • Not had too many rules
    • How do you do team events remotely? How do you involve ppl if they are remote?
    • Have the event filmed and recorded remotely
    • frequent events
    • not capitalise for only those who can attend
    • fear of missing out - tough love vs
    • create a culture of positivity + fun
    • hopefully ppl come round to the idea of coming into the office
  • How should we think about doing a survey?
    • open ended questions
    • what would make them feel safe? what do they miss from the office? what would be the ideal location?
    • strong sense of direction from senior management -
    • hot desking/ not having designated desks
    • making moves - postcode mapping
    • touching in with people after lockdown has ended
    • continue to give them flexibility once they have moved
    • surveys on a monthly basis
    • need to be open to collecting all the data but won't be able to action everything
  • What rules are you setting for going into the office?
  • How do you support the team with routine?
    • offer support to people when they need it
    • check in with the team + help with routines - productivity + mental wellbeing
    • Lattice to use weekly updates
      • 2 questions - what went well/what did you find challenging? - 2nd Q - lockdown lifting
      • + partnering meetings to discuss in their 1-1s
      • how is everyone feeling against coming back in? Some ppl are super keen vs I have someone vulnerable at home
      • AMA - set up in Slack - anonymously asking questions
    • daily stand ups
      • assign traffic light to someone's mood
      • walkabouts
  • How to decide what's right for your team? Feedback from the team, management, and going forward.

  • The physical office and on-demand space. Acquiring and managing your office spaces.

  • Culture, people management, and inclusivity.
Main session notes (Mike)

Mo, Making Moves

  • 2-3 days working capacity.
  • Occupancy reduced 30-50% generally.
  • Around 84% of people are going to be working in a hybrid model.
  • Landlords offering much more flexibility

Charlie, Hubble

  • Most companies moving to a hybrid environment at least in the beginning.
  • 2-3 days per week seems to be the most common demand.
  • Note that people are saying very different things to how they behave.
  • Hot-desking is an option and saves a lot of money. The cost of 'paying twice' for an in-office desk and remote desk can add up.
  • Big pool of talent available if offering fully-remote, often tech teams in particular.

Group 2: (Amanda)

  • Lots of difference sizes of companies and a lot of people in trial mode.
  • Spoke about the practicality of finding a space that fits your size and stage of growth as a company. Different options of hotdesking, subscriptions, the benefits of a single core office - the practicalities of organising that, using software of a google calendar.
  • Working norms: How do we do meetings? Even if people are in an office, having everyone still on zoom to even the playing field for those working remotely.
  • Psychological safety. How will people feel about public transport and the commute especially as social distancing gets less and less. Should we rethink where our office is located to facilitate this, though a central location offers a lot of the things people want in an office - bars, restaurants, pubs nearby. Allowing access for employees across the UK to coworking spaces outside London.
  • Team dynamics: Does everyone come in on the same day for the social aspect but also working together. How can you make sure everyone is included.

Group 3

Alex: chef came in once a week and cooked for the team - how do we incentivise people coming into the office? cycle to work for commute?

  • How do we maintain inclusivity for everyone for example those with young kids or those looking after someone who is vulnerable. Some rules around expectations is important. Q3 might mandate that someone comes in at least once a month.
  • How do you run events? Filming the events and clear agendas to ensure remote is included. Also needs to be some tough love - if you're able to create a strong culture on building interactions and getting to know the people you work with that will create a desire that people want to come to these events.
  • Important to understand the blockers why people don't want to attend.
  • Ask open-ended questions about how people are feeling and their state of emotions, ideal location, what would they miss from the office, how would they feel safe within the office, postcode mapping, hotdesking. Important to keep asking how people are doing after they've moved in.
  • What rules in the office - CommonSurface and GetOfficeley.
  • How do you support teams with routine? Check in regularly for productivity and wellbeing regularly. Blocking time in your diary for coffee side-chat. Lattice has functionality for weekly updates: 1) What went well and what have you found challenging? Second question changes over time and can ask about feeling about lockdown lifting, moving back to office, and so on. Anonymous AMA slack channels.

Group 4

  • Why are companies making decisions - profitability, employee needs, vs leadership needs, mental health being a consideration.
  • Starting a job remotely it's very difficult picking up the nuance of a job without meeting people.
  • How often is the magic number for meeting up?
  • Hybrid meetings: Having good tech and making sure everyone knows about it and how to use it.
  • Keep everyone involved: Having a chair person. Dialling in from your desk.
  • Doing regular surveys and checking in.
  • Clear expectations and trusting people.

Understand the blockers people have, go underneath the simple survey answer. How can you help people want to come in? Cycle to work, commuting easier, nanny for parents, etc.

Keep asking how people doing throughout this transition - continue the conversation to move forwards.

Main session notes (Ausrine)
  • Team survey responses aren't very accurate - they're saying something different than what they actually want. Disconnect from what they say vs what they do. People don't necessarily know what they want.
  • Companies at some point have to put their foot down and have some rules going forward.
  • Biggest learning opportunities are micro/random interactions that happen in the office - they create the ever important cross-functional culture. What's the appetite for cross-culture in YOUR business? Small learnings like this compound over time.
  • There's currently a tremendous range for risk appetite amongst all the employees. Some solutions are wristband policy (e.g. red = don't approach me, amber = happy to give you a hug). However, this will change in the coming months so the companies will need to adapt. Phased approach is super important.
  • Benefit of being in person when it comes to feedback. So much harder to give feedback virtually. Microinteractions compound over time.
  • There's not much sharing of small positives; small wins are very difficult to create in digital environment. Potential solution: regular newsletter created for this purpose sharing small or big wins / happy moments in the company.
  • Having a main/core office with some subscription-based desks attached.
  • Using a calendar/schedule to make sure that the office is not "oversubscribed".
  • Best for everyone to be individually on their Zoom call even if half of the team is in the same office.
  • Psychological safety - how will people feel about getting back on public transport, how comfortable some people will feel about going into certain spaces. Perhaps that pushes having the office in a not-so-central office location.
  • Making sure that people are included.
  • Stagger core hours to help people avoid rush hour on public transport etc?
  • Running company events: film/record them so that it's more inclusive, not only for remote people who can't make it, but for any new joiners who weren't there for the event yet.
  • Really getting to know what the blockers are for each person for not being able to attend (the event OR the office) and company potentially helping to solve via allocating some budget.
  • Monthly surveys to ask how people are doing.
  • Commonsurface.com - allows to book office space in your own office + a few more tools
  • How do you support teams with routine - check in with the regular basis, productivity and mental wellbeing - don't dive straight into the meeting, ask how everyone's doing. Also if you're using Lattice, it will allow to give weekly updates. Ask me anything Slack channels (anonymous).
  • What leadership wants vs everyone else.
  • What's the magic number for meeting up in the office with everyone? So that there's enough micro-moments :)
  • Keeping everyone involved - having a chair person for all the meetings making sure that everyone is included.
  • Trust being a huge thing in how we trust each other in working and goal setting, but having really clear expectations in what needs to be achieved.