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Optimizing the Workplace in a Hybrid Environment

Regardless of your geographic location, the need to optimize the workplace and workspace is more critical than ever. When our global workforce becomes more hybrid, we must ask ourselves if it is necessary to “require” attendance 1-2 days per week or are we simply missing an opportunity to optimize our workplace in a new era.

I’m not dismissing the need for collaboration and enhancing workplace relationships, but from a holistic perspective, is it worth it?  This begs the question regarding the need to have someone in the organization whose job it is to optimize the workplace, or do we leave this up to each functional manager or department head.  Microsoft took such action with a focus on micro productivity – simply breaking down tasks into microtasks that fit into the new way. Jaime Teevan, chief scientist at Microsoft, wrote an articlin Harvard Business Review titled Let’s Redefine Productivity for the Hybrid Era,” examining what they have discovered.  

Organizations may have the luxury of having perfect execution and/or planning teams.  If so, shouldn’t they be working to optimize the costs, time demands, office space (density management), and value proposition of requiring remote workers to travel (including employee engagement and satisfaction data).  One can quickly jump to the conclusion that reducing workplace space requirements, travel to the office only when required, and continued investment in digital tools, etc. would be in our best interestespecially given the economic dynamics we are experiencing today.  This is quite a balancing act, as not all workplaces are the same and customer demands will dictate our behaviors at the end of the day. However, at some point we must think about the holistic experience of the remote and on-premises workers. 

Leveraging your “Best Cost Centers” (not always the lowest cost) globally to redistribute work and maximize the effectiveness of our human resources will open various options as you think about workplace optimization.  I found a great example with ICMI (Incoming Calls Management Institute) where they offer ten strategies to optimize workforce scheduling.   

I think we can all agree that workforce and workplace management should work hand in hand and is becoming more critical with each passing day with the need to anticipate office attendance, managing conference rooms, break areas, collaboration rooms and keeping things somewhat balanced with intra-day activities.  Take time to plan and put someone in charge of optimizing the workplace experience, requirements and efficiency. 

As acknowledged by management theorist, Peter Drucker, who reportedly said, “What gets measured gets improved.” The trick is to understand the value of data, measure the right things and then make sense of it all to inform decisions. 

Published on: July 27, 2022

Authors: James E. Jones

Topics: COVID-19 Employer Issues, Global, People and Culture

James E. Jones

Senior Advisor, HR Policy Global, HR Policy Association

Detailed Bio

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