The future is hybrid working.  Interview with Karolina Manikowska, Workplace Research&Consulting Department Director, Product Management Department Director, Nowy Styl

The future is hybrid working. Interview with Karolina Manikowska, Workplace Research&Consulting Department Director, Product Management Department Director, Nowy Styl

Nowy Styl has recently published a report titled “Workspace of tomorrow”, which presents a vision of an office ready to tackle the challenges the future brings. How would you say work has changed because of the pandemic? Hybrid model is often mentioned in this context. What are the inherent challenges? Is this solution recommended for everybody?

The pandemic has accelerated certain changes that were expected in the distant future. As it is, our reality is changing in front of our very eyes. During the first wave of the pandemic, many office-based organisations had to switch to working from home. In hindsight, various conclusions could be drawn. Remote work is definitely not a solution readily available to each company and individual. Some people can’t or don’t want to work from home, whereas others like the peace and quiet of their own place. It’s good to consider this diversity.

According to the research, a vast majority of office employees would like to combine working in the office with remote work. And hybrid work is a solution that offers this kind of flexibility.

As regards the organisation itself and the priorities of the managerial staff, introducing hybrid work might be perceived as a challenge, because it requires a different approach. A company considering the hybrid model must determine whether or not this working style fits in with the existing organisational culture. Another thing is the technical infrastructure and toolkit. It is also good to remember to define new rules when adopting this model. A few years back I introduced the hybrid model in my team. We used to have a shared calendar, where each of us marked their office days and working from home. We also agreed on a single day of the week when everybody came to the office. It was usually a time of intense meetings and brainstorming. The office became a kind of communication hub – a place for exchanging information and interacting with other team members.

In the Communication Hub you present a number of new zones, such as Focus XL or Agile Space. What do we make of the agile-inspired zone? Is it a solution dedicated only to companies that implement Agile methodology?

Agile, methodology was originally used in IT. At the moment, it keeps attracting crowds of enthusiasts also in other sectors of business and industry. Its dynamic and less formalised approach to project management entails a specific office arrangement. Agile Space is the result of our collaboration with strategic clients from a number of sectors. Flexibility is the key here – these companies avoid fixed elements of design in their offices. The space is divided with movable partition walls. Traditional desks and office rooms are on the decline. Instead, we can observe tall tables for stand-up meetings, large project tables useful for teamwork or lightweight pouffes, which can easily be arranged when you want to have an ad hoc meeting. I believe hybrid offices will continue to draw on Agile workspaces. Such solutions offer immense flexibility. Why put up a TV set on the wall if you can place it on a wheeled cabinet with a dry-wipe board on reverse? Clever ideas matter most.

Managerial Space – shared rooms and hourly booking. Does it stand a chance in our office reality?

Of course, this is not a suitable solution for everybody. I still see its considerable potential, though. In the hybrid model most of the administrative work is done out of office. The office is a place for meetings and teamwork. In this situation, office rooms would remain empty most of the time anyway. Shared office rooms, not assigned to specific employees, mean that managers from various departments can collaborate – by bringing them together you give them the opportunity to understand their mutual needs and grasp the processes others are responsible for. This solution supports communication among the managers. You could refer to it as desk sharing for managers. Of course, once in a while everybody needs a separate room for confidential meetings. This is why you have small rooms located close at hand, which can be booked only by the managerial staff. The above outline is only a suggestion of what a hybrid office could look like, but it’s vital that each company goes through the change process consciously.

The report can be downloaded from www.tomorrow.nowystyl.com


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