Bringing the Neighborhood into Hybrid Workspaces

McCoy Rockford

More than 70% of workspaces around the world have gone hybrid (and some estimates put that number as high as 94%), yet people remain hesitant to return to the office. Steelcase research of almost 5,000 offices in 11 countries found a compelling reason for this hesitancy: People want a sense of belonging in the workplace, even if they’re only in the office a few days per week. Where can employers find corporate office inspiration that will foster that sense of belonging?

Draw office inspiration from neighborhoods.
Each neighborhood is as unique as the people who live within it. Yet neighborhoods all share a foundation of vibrancy and energy that constantly evolves to meet the needs of its residents. Office design should have that same foundation of energy and growth.

Organizational psychologist and author Adam Grant encourages employers to envision the workplace as a community where people bond, feel valued and have a voice in decisions. Much like a neighborhood, a workspace is an ever-evolving collaborative space where people come together to chart a shared future. This may require rethinking the office design and office furniture, but the effort will pay off in a more inclusive and creative space where people enjoy coming together.

Office design that supports community.
Neighborhoods are made up of interconnected spaces with different functions, just like hybrid workspaces. There should be dedicated spaces for hosting in-person and hybrid meetings, space for socialization and sharing meals and quiet spaces for heads down work or individual video conference calls.

Steelcase identified four key office design principals to create a workspace that functions like a neighborhood:

1. Me + We – Create spaces that support both individual and group work. In the modern workplace, people shift quickly between different types of work, and they need spaces that support each of their daily functions.
2. Fixed-to-fluid – Change is constant in both neighborhoods and corporations, so look for modular solutions that can adapt to different scenarios and use cases when needed.
3. Open + Enclosed – People have become accustomed to working at home and having privacy when they need it. This carries over into the workplace, where they’ll look for inviting public and private spaces where they can have control over their privacy.
4. Braiding Digital + Physical – Just like urban planners use smart technology in building neighborhood spaces, office designs must include easy-to-use technology solutions that bring teams together, whether they’re in the office or working remote.

When thinking through the needs of the team, it’s helpful to keep the three E’s of employee experience in mind:
• The office experience should be equitable and inclusive for everyone, whether they’re in the office or remote.
• The office design should be engaging and provide spaces where people can focus on what they need to accomplish throughout the day.
• Both virtual and physical experiences should be easy to navigate and control.

McCoy Rockford can help you design a functional office space that’s adaptable and supportive of your community, whether your company has adopted a hybrid model or returned to the office full time.

To learn more, visit mccoyrockford.com or book a showroom tour in Austin or Houston.