To office or not to office: Building workspaces for hybrid work and team connection

Space Refinery
June 20, 2024
Hybrid work is here to stay. How can your office adapt to attract and retain talent?

Let your office attract people. Then you don't need any policies

The current discussion about the balance between working from home and in the office is the wrong one. We need to approach the debate differently today. The strict policies about working from the office are not the best solution because they look at work from the perspective of the past.

As the times of forced work from home due to COVID-19 have ended, many global corporations now push the pendulum to the other side. “Come to the office or leave,” the CEO of IBM emailed to his managers. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the days are numbered for employees who don't stick to the three-day-a-week rule in the office. Deutsche Bank prohibits its people from working from home on Fridays and Mondays. UPS is ditching its hybrid work policy and calling employees back to the office full-time.

This is where the opinions split. On the one hand, we see resistance from the employees who will unlikely forget about the flexibility and convenience of the home office. On the other hand, the data confirms that innovation is indeed better in the office: a recent study from the universities of Oxford and Pittsburgh notes, among other things, that teams that physically work together are 27% more likely to produce groundbreaking insights. I will always remember that a CEO of one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies talked about how on Fridays, the day when people worked from home, he knew no innovation would happen.

But blindly following this new trend, like any other, without thinking about what your company does and needs is risky. Don't do like IBM if you're not IBM. This strict policy might work for them, but not for you.

In-person collaboration at BECI's office

A few years back, companies were copying Google's offices - and were ending up with beanbags, fake plants and bright colors that didn’t match their branding or culture. Your office shouldn't mimic Google's; it should mirror your team's spirit, activities and needs. If you want to bring people back, it can't be just any office. The old, dull and outdated workspace is dead. Instead, companies can attract and inspire their teams with their spaces. Every company needs a workspace tailored to their needs, specific roles, functions, and business demands of today and tomorrow. 61% of Gensler's research respondents said they need the office to be more productive, but if that office provides them with the necessary setup for their work.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Not fully remote or fully in-office, but thoughtfully blended models where leaders engage the teams to understand their needs. Offices remain vital spaces for human connections and spontaneous interactions, and are silent recruiters. The most progressive companies understand that people are their biggest asset. Rather than mandate rigid policies, they involve teams in co-creating flexible working models, while also investing in offices as collaboration hubs. Today, you need to attract people back with something extra - not just expect them to commute out of obligation.

With intentional design tailored to an organization's specific culture and priorities, the workplace can magnetize teams by providing what remote work cannot. This balanced approach is the secret sauce for happiness, resilience, and performance.

Hybrid work is here to stay. How can your office adapt to attract and retain talent?

Stay connected!
Follow us on LinkedIn for more insights: