Hybrid Working Trends: Embracing the Future of Work

Uncover the key trends emerging from hybrid work patterns and learn how your business can support its teams

By Bryony Light

10.08.23

The rise of hybrid working has changed how many workers use the office, and what they want their employers to provide. We’re exploring some of the biggest trends to emerge from hybrid working patterns and what businesses can do to help their people adjust and thrive.

Unlike Zoom quizzes and virtual happy hours, hybrid working is a pandemic trend that’s remained a firm part of many people’s lives. The Office of National Statistics now estimates that around 44% of people work from home for at least part of their working week. Lots of people enjoy the balance that hybrid work offers – with days in the office dedicated to in-person meetings and collaborative projects and at-home hours saved for quiet, focused work.

One thing has become clear: the pre-pandemic office isn’t necessarily configured for how hybrid workers are using the space. But what do businesses need to adjust at their premises to optimise them for hybrid work – and how can they get a hybrid-focused fit-out right?

AXIS House’s Client Relations Executive, Dale Stone and Commercial Director, Richard Farrant, weigh in on the topic.

Shifting away from one-person, one-desk

Empowering Hybrid Working: Explore Cutting-Edge Room Booking Technology

Picture the scene pre-pandemic. Most offices would have rows of desks with personal touches, like pictures, trinkets and snacks. But with some businesses downsizing and switching to fewer numbers of hot desks, the days of the assigned desk seem to be behind us.

With offices becoming more communal, it can be surprising to find out the biggest challenge isn’t the layout – but how your people embrace a different way of working.

“It’s up to managers and owners to model the behaviours they want to see themselves, like sitting at a different desk each day. Clear guidelines and systems can also help prevent people monopolising certain spaces!” added Dale.

Richard also explains there are ways to subtly encourage movement. Some office configurations spread out essentials, like hydration points, to discourage people from staying in one place all day. Others break up desk banks to make collaborative, social working the norm.

If your business is looking to downsize its office premises to reduce overheads, hybrid working allows you to fit the same number of people into a smaller space. You could implement a desk booking system to prevent disputes over space, and hire larger meeting spaces to bring everyone together in one place on a quarterly basis.

A resimercial future

Businesswoman in hybrid working office with resi-mercial designEven though the personal cubicle or desk has become less common in hybrid-optimised offices, so-called ‘resimercial’ design has become far more popular. In an effort to tempt cosy remote workers back into the office, harsh lighting and clinical decor have been ditched in favour of more welcoming choices

“Offices have become a more relaxed space, with less corporate branding, that can be used in lots of different ways. “We’re seeing higher demand for softer tones, comfortable furniture in breakout areas and even curtains to make the spaces feel almost homely”, revealed Dale.

Creating a multi-use space

While there’s a lot of focus on the office as a space for collaboration, it’s important for businesses to consider all of its use cases before their fit-out. Around 13% of people still work from the office every day, ((https://www.lsh.co.uk/explore/research-and-views/research/2023/june/thames-valley-and-south-east-office-market-report-2023)) meaning they need spaces where they can focus or take calls without interruption. Sectioned off meeting rooms, booths or designated quiet areas are an important part of a functional hybrid office.

“Its important to think about your acoustics and the configuration of the space too” explains Richard. “If the space is poorly designed, it will decrease both the quality of your employees’ working experience and productivity levels.”

Versatile Hybrid Working Spaces: Collaboration, Individual Pods, High Bar Table, Soft Seating, and Traditional Desks.

Even if your business doesn’t have the budget for a full fit-out, investing in a few simple booths or high tables can reinvent your space. New furniture can get people up and away from their desks and offer much-needed quiet and privacy for focused work.

Facilitating seamless connections

On a practical level, hybrid offices need to make the essentials of work as seamless as possible. Furniture such as lockers or secure storage cupboards are useful, as workers can keep essentials at the office without leaving them on communal desks. The right hardware, like screens, computer mice and keyboards, must be in place to allow people to plug in and get to work without friction.

Research by IDC has found that technology is also a “key enabler” of a best-in-class hybrid workplace experience. ((https://essensys.tech/market-digest/technology-analysts-address-workspace-transformation/)) The right solutions, from collaborative tools like Trello, Asana and Slack to cloud server storage, presentation equipment and room booking capabilities, make ‘location agnostic’ working possible.

Attract and retain top talent

Successful Hybrid Working Interview: Woman Celebrating After Zoom Interview.

Using the office to attract top talent The next generation of talent largely expects roles to be hybrid, with 59% of 18-34s willing to leave a role if flexible working is taken off the table. ((https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/email/genz/2022/05/17/2022-05-17b.html))  But that’s not to say Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) don’t like the office. Of the young people who prefer office working to remote, 90% say the office makes them more productive. ((https://fortune.com/2023/04/06/gen-z-return-to-office-boosts-productivity/))

The only problem for employers? Gen Z has high expectations. “Modern universities have amazing spaces where students can work, socialise and come together. We’ve noticed this is shaping what graduates expect from their workplaces” shared Dale.

75% of employers globally say it’s increasingly difficult to find the talent they need ((https://www.jll.co.uk/en/trends-and-insights/research/top-10-global-cre-trends)) – perhaps, in part, due to candidates’ high expectations of office life. To overcome this, property agents have noticed an increasing “flight to quality” – where businesses are investing in Grade A office space instead of more affordable, older properties.

Investing in people-focused features

It’s not just young people that are driving organisations to level up their workspaces. Hannah Nardini is a workplace psychologist, strategist and interior designer with 26+ years of experience. She explained that businesses have recently recognised the value in investing in quality offices.

There has been a shift away from purely cost driven decisions towards ones that prioritises people. Employers are finally seeing the importance of taking care of their people at a physical and psychological level as a means of naturally improving performance and retention of talent

Hybrid Working Engagement: Office Staff Enjoying Table Tennis Break in Modern Workspace.

So how can businesses make sure their office is optimised? As much as budget allows, they should be looking to incorporate features like:

  • Quality coffee machines
  • Breakout entertainment
  • Shower and changing room facilities
  • Bike storage
  • Biophilia – introducing live plants and planters for some mood-boosting greenery
  • Wellbeing and faith spaces
  • Fitness or gym facilities

Preparing for the future of hybrid work

Hybrid Working Spaces: Meeting Pod, Soft Seating, and Breakout Area Illustrating the Future of Work.

With 53% of organisations planning to make remote working permanently available by 2025 ((https://www.jll.co.uk/en/trends-and-insights/research/top-10-global-cre-trends)) it’s clear the hybrid model is here to stay. Considering how abruptly working life changed in 2020, most businesses are still operating in premises, and with policies, that aren’t quite right.

Now is the time to invest in permanent changes to ensure your workplaces are optimised to attract and retain the best talent fit for a hybrid working future.

Interested to discover how you could utilise your available office space better to capitalise on hybrid working opportunities?

Book a complimentary 1-hour workplace consultation >


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