The Future Office: Six Steps to Retrofit Workspaces to Promote Hybrid Collaboration
Sourced from Toolbox
October 27, 2021
The accelerated shift to remote work not only forced employers to rethink the typical 9-5 workday but also how they utilize their physical office. In-person connection and collaboration are on top of the list of things workers miss from the office. But how can we rethink in-person spaces for maximized collaboration? Paul Johnson, CIO of Poly, and Steve Hay and Alan Mougey, Managing Directors, MGAC, answer this question.
Since March 2020, millions of offices worldwide have sat empty. Where once there was a hum of chattering activity — meetings and phone calls, huddles and watercooler chats, bustling cafeterias, and the endless tapping of keyboards — now there is a veil of silence hanging over vacant rooms. The pandemic has caused a permanent shift in how and where knowledge workers do their jobs, so when we finally return to the office, what will the space look like? Hopefully, it will look entirely different than when we left it, reconfigured for hybrid collaboration between onsite and remote teams.
6-Step Plan To Retrofit Office Space
While it may seem daunting to retrofit your existing office to improve hybrid collaboration, this six-step plan may help.
- Determine exactly what collaboration technology your new hybrid workforce will need. Do they mostly hold video conferences with internal staff, or do they do a lot of client-facing video meetings? Will visiting customers use the conference rooms? Do teams often need to share screens, viewing spreadsheets or graphs? Take stock of the collaboration hardware you already have and what you’ll need to purchase to deliver a consistent experience in each room.
- Inspect your office to figure out where to put the new collaboration technology and prepare rooms for their new functions. You might need to buy furniture, chairs, and blinds, paint walls, and remove old furnishings that don’t support the new configurations.
- Buy off-the-shelf video conferencing and audio equipment for conference rooms and new webcams, headphones, and microphones for workstations. Most companies have already standardized on a platform (such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet) so ensure any hardware you purchase works with your existing collaboration platforms and gives you the flexibility to change platforms at no cost in the future.
- Install the new hardware. The quality of off-the-shelf videoconferencing systems has dramatically improved, so you likely won’t need a design consultant or integrator. But if you run into snags, you can always hire an external vendor to help install your new video and audio components.
- Test your new setup many times to ensure it’s easy to use, backgrounds and lighting are optimal, and furniture and workstations are set up with a collaboration-first mindset. When your new system meets all your requirements, create a simple user guide for employees before they return to the office.
- Train your employees on how to use the technology as it was designed. Leverage the user guide to allow employees to become proficient with the tools and systems that were installed. The best-designed and installed rooms will consistently underperform if your people and teams do not know how to use the systems.