As Australia eases restrictions and reopens its borders to fully vaccinated visa holders, the return of tourists and business travellers signals the start of a return to pre-pandemic times.
However, for companies across the country, the reopening of borders does not herald the return to traditional office-based norms. The rapid switch to flexible working during the time of COVID-19 proved that employees were able to keep the wheels of industry turning and maintain professional levels of productivity and collaboration outside of the traditional workplace construct.
Key learning acquired by businesses and individuals alike over the last two years was that work isn’t about where you go but what you do – meaning where work gets done doesn’t matter all that much anymore.
Reimaging the office workplace
As remote hybrid work became the predominant way of working for knowledge workers, it fast became something that employees are reluctant to give away. As we move into the post-pandemic work world, these flexible work options need to be preserved. By not offering flexibility and hybrid work models, employers will find themselves starkly out of step with employee expectations. And ignoring these expectations are likely to cost businesses in the form of critical talent departures and obstacles in talent attraction.
Instead of approaching remote work as all or nothing proposition, pursuing hybrid models that involve some degree of office-based work and the ability to work from home is a smart move.
To accommodate the needs of a flexible and engaged workforce, the nature of the office must change. In ‘Changing Places: Designing hybrid offices that work’ PwC Australia describes the new office workplace as follows:
It no longer needs to accommodate assigned desks or be seen only as a ‘9am-5pm’ space. Different teams will have their own work styles, patterns and preferences and companies will need to redesign office spaces to suit that, while enabling culture and strengthening organisational purpose.
The office of the future will be different. It will no longer accommodate all activities associated with work but provide a place for those tasks that cannot successfully be done at home. In order to successfully evolve and embrace hybrid working, businesses will need to consider the four C’s: Concentration, Collaboration, Communication, and Contemplation.”
Source: ‘Changing Places: Designing hybrid offices that work’, PwC Australia
What is a hybrid office
As businesses plan for the future, a way forward reimagines the hybrid office as one of a number of small but important hubs for collaboration, presentations, training, and engagement with the team, customers, and partners, while employees keep their WFH flexibility.
Instead of having work centred in a single location, companies set up a network of hubs and other facilities with employees located nearby. Such an approach allows companies to hire outside their geographic locations due to WFH flexibility.
Critical to making this model work is a superfast and securely connected yet cost effective network and robust communication and collaboration technology that presents a consistent experience from home or hub.
This means getting serious about the topography of your network and the use of UCaaS software to ease communication and collaboration. With a single highly scalable communications platform underpinning all hubs, you make it as easy to work with a colleague on the other side of the country as one facing you across your desk.
For help finding the right UCaaS solution for your hybrid office needs, please get in touch with imei.