What exactly is this hybrid working model we keep hearing about? It’s a model that seamlessly blends remote and in-office work, allowing employees to enjoy the flexibility of working from home while also engaging in on-site collaboration and office work as needed. It's a balanced approach that accommodates various work styles, fostering a dynamic work environment that combines the benefits of both worlds.
Hybrid work is all about flexibility, allowing the employees to decide which environment works best for them and their productivity on a given day.
Now, some companies prefer having obligatory office days, when the entire crew is expected to present themselves at the office. At FatCat, we’re all about letting our employees be in charge of their own work-life balance. They can come in every day, come in occasionally, or work practically fully remotely, which is often the case with staff augmentation models.
This flexibility, however, raises one question: why have an office then, with all the flexibility? Well, consider it something like keeping a vinyl record collection in the age of Spotify: you may not listen to it every day, but when you do, it adds a certain richness to the experience.
With hybrid office doors swinging both ways, there's a major challenge afoot — how do we optimize and organize this space for the employees coming in? Join us as we explore the nuances of hybrid work environment, sharing our experiences but also looking into some insights on how to optimize for a hybrid workplace.
Optimizing for a Hybrid Workplace
To make the most of this new workplace paradigm, we first need to consider what the office has come to be, in this new sense.
Hybrid work has triggered a shift in our understanding of the office, transforming it from a mere working space into a multifaceted hub of possibilities. These days, the office serves not just as a place to punch the clock but as a dynamic ecosystem fostering employee happiness, collaboration, innovation, and social connection.
The Office as a Hub/Interaction Space
Imagine the office as a bustling marketplace of ideas where colleagues from different teams converge, sparking conversations that transcend departmental boundaries. This is where knowledge is freely and gladly traded between teams and individuals. The physical office, once typically a grid of cubicles, is now the vibrant bazaar where diverse expertise mingles, giving rise to unexpected synergies and innovations.
The interaction can be organized and managed, so to speak: for example in scheduled sessions. But, as it’s always the case, the best stuff happens spontaneously. Think of the now proverbial water cooler. The modern hybrid work environment has gone way past this relict of cubicled office space, and the real interaction takes place throughout the office - in lounge rooms, game rooms, as you heat up your lunch in the kitchen, in front of the mirror in the ladies' room…
Sure, ideas can be exchanged via messaging systems, conference calls and collaboration apps. In fact, this is precisely what keeps remote work across timezones running smoothly. But nothing beats the sparkling spontaneity of face-to-face interaction, with spirited exchanges that build up to create something brand new and perhaps even groundbreaking. It’s the human moment at work that stimulates mental activity and gets us to think in new and creative ways.
This can be a great fix for the times we hit a wall, get stuck, or reach a plateau in our work. Sharing our concerns with coworkers is bound to shed new light on the problem, and their input is often unparalleled.
The Office as a Social Gathering Place
Work is not just about meetings and deadlines; it's also about celebration, camaraderie, and the shared joy of achieving milestones. In this reimagined office landscape, colleagues don't just pop in for meetings — they come to company events that transcend the usual boardroom decorum. Picture themed parties, team-building escapades, and events that make the office not just a workplace but a community. It's where professional relationships evolve into genuine friendships, creating a workplace culture that's not just about productivity but about people.
Sure, remote work tried to fix employees’ social needs through virtual means - this goes from digital breakrooms to teambuilding activities like online scavenger hunts. But can it replace real human interaction? Hardly. In fact, for 66% of employees, informal virtual coffee chats feel more like a chore than something they want to be doing. And this is just one of the common remote work challenges.
Having work friends not only does wonders for the psychological well-being of employees - it also boosts morale and increases engagement and productivity. In the long run, nurturing real-life, in-office social interactions benefits employee retention and helps create a strong and positive company culture.
The Office as a Knowledge and Education Hub
Forget the image of a classroom with desks neatly arranged in rows; imagine instead a vibrant space where colleagues gather for educational sessions, workshops, and events designed to stimulate intellectual curiosity. The modern office is now a learning ground where the boundaries between teacher and student blur, and knowledge is shared in a collaborative environment. It's not just about the work at hand; it's about cultivating a culture of continuous learning and growth.
This knowledge-sharing doesn’t even have to be formal and structured. People naturally tend to look for the shortest way to solving a problem, and oftentimes the shortest way means simply walking up to a coworker’s desk and asking for help. And you can’t do that from home.
As is the case with so many other companies, FatCat once worked exclusively in the office. But then came COVID-19, changing work as the world once knew it, for good. With the lockdown, we had to go fully remote. As we navigated through the uncharted post-pandemic waters, we realized that our office could be more than just a space to clock in and out—it could be a vibrant hub that fosters innovation, collaboration, and, of course, a dash of fun.
We knew we wanted our office to offer a couple of important C’s: comfort, community, connectivity, concentration, and contemplation. And those were the principles that guided us in optimizing for a hybrid workplace.
To get people to actually want to leave the comfort of their homes, companies need to push the envelope when it comes to working conditions. We’re talking equipment that’s up to the latest standards, big screens, lighting that’s natural but good, ergonomic chairs and desks, fast WiFi, etc.
Cats are notoriously flexible so we made sure FatCat reflects it. Our team members enjoy flexible working hours, and they’re equally flexible when it comes to where they will work on any given day. Not feeling like getting out of your pajamas? No problem, remote day it is. Need the office vibes? Drop by whenever you feel like it.
Next, we wanted to master the fine art of the hybrid meeting. Whether you're a fan of the virtual realm or the tangible office air, our meetings and learning sessions cater to everyone, accommodating the employees’ needs and respecting our flexible working principle.
Of course, we're not just about work. We're about building connections, forging friendships, and celebrating wins – big or small. Our calendar is peppered with company parties, game nights that unleash the competitive spirit, and other events that add a sparkle to the daily grind.
Teamwork is our secret weapon, and we understand that some battles are best-fought side by side, in person. So, while we embrace the digital age, we also give a nod to the power of face-to-face collaboration.
Finally, our offices aren't just welcoming to humans; we've extended the invitation to our furry friends too! A study found that bringing pets to the workplace increases job satisfaction, commitment, and support. We're proudly pet-friendly because let's be honest, who can resist a wagging tail or a soft purr in the midst of a busy day?
Wrapping It Up
Navigating hybrid work comes with its fair share of challenges, and we've rolled up our sleeves to not just face them but to turn them into opportunities. Our focus is on crafting a work environment that goes beyond the virtual realm, fostering team bonds and supercharging productivity.
Hopefully, our experience will give you a few ideas on how to make the most of your office space for the hybrid work environment. The goal is clear: creating an environment that empowers the employees to be their most effective selves while actually enjoying the journey. With that goal in mind, you can’t possibly go wrong.
Now we invite you, our dear reader, to explore our story and our team, and if you want to swap stories, learn together, and redefine the ways to thrive in the dynamic hybrid work landscape - give us a call or drop a line.