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Collaborating in a hybrid work environment: the link between office layout and teamwork

Published:

August 28, 2023

Updated:

August 28, 2023

Is your office space designed to foster hybrid team collaboration

Collaborating in a hybrid work environment differs entirely from working together in person. Some employees might attend a meeting from the office while others are at home or a third workplace. How do you make this work? How do you make sure everyone has a voice and feels included? 

Online collaboration tools, cloud-based systems, remote communication platforms… Businesses have implemented many great solutions to facilitate teamwork digitally. But what about the physical workplace? People are still coming on-site now and then. The role of the office has changed with the rise of hybrid work. It is a place to socialize and bond with colleagues and where team members take the opportunity to work on group projects. Therefore, your office setup has to answer the needs of a hybrid workforce. The transformation must not only be digital but also physical.

This article explores why rethinking the office layout is essential and how to create a hybrid workspace that invites collaboration and promotes inclusion.

team collaboration

Hybrid team and collaboration: the perfect match

Collaboration: the central nerve of a successful business

As Martha Goedert said: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Fostering collaboration is one of the golden tickets to a long-term successful business.Yet, hybrid work has reshuffled how team members work together. Even when people are equipped with the best remote collaboration tools on the market, they still consider in-person interaction a key component of thriving collaboration. According to Zippia’s 2022 Hybrid Work Statistics report, 87% of workers believe meeting in person is important for collaborating and building relationships with colleagues. Moreover, teamwork and collaboration are essential for employee morale and experience. It enables workplace connection, creates a sense of belonging, and enhances a community feeling paramount for mental well-being and job satisfaction. But be careful. We are not talking about forcing people to work collectively constantly here. We mean facilitating collaboration and helping people work together thanks to a professional environment and the right tools.

Hybrid work: the best approach to make teams thrive

While hybrid work requires organizations and managers to rethink collaboration, this new working style is crucial to meeting the expectations of a modern workforce. There is no way of going back to coming to the office daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The benefits of hybrid work are tremendous, from greater job satisfaction to healthier work-life balance and higher productivity. For these reasons and many others, 37% of job seekers would reject an offer if it doesn't include flexible working arrangements. For these reasons and many others, 37% of job seekers would reject an offer if it doesn’t include flexible working arrangements. Similarly, 28% of employees would refuse a career promotion if it implied having a fully on-site schedule. Lastly, 28% of workers would say no to a new job opportunity if a “work from anywhere” policy is not in place. 

💡 Would you like to know more about what the numbers reveal about this working model? Check the latest remote work statistics

hybrid office with shared desk

Collaborating in a hybrid work environment: the importance of transforming both the digital and physical workplace

Hybrid team collaboration isn’t only digital

Allowing more flexible work arrangements forces companies to think about and implement a fast digital transformation strategy. Some organizations might feel lost regarding this rapid evolution. However, this is an essential step to ensure the success of hybrid work practices and make your business future-proof. Team members need to be able to work from home and with their co-workers as smoothly as when they are all in the office.

Yet, with a hybrid work model, not everything happens virtually like a fully remote policy. Therefore, collaboration must thrive on-site, too, whether the entire team is in the office. This is why transforming both the digital and physical workplace is paramount. When they are on-premises, employees must have access to workspaces that enable collaboration with colleagues in the office and those who work remotely.

The four different types of collaboration in a hybrid landscape

Collaboration takes different forms. Here are the four types that you may experience.

  • Colocated and synchronous

In this collaboration landscape, employees work together from the exact location. For example, they are all meeting in the office on Wednesdays. These days, tend to reserve more collective spaces than individual ones.

  • Colocated and asynchronous

Here, people also share the same work location but work separately on their own tasks. In this case, team members are more eager to prioritize quiet areas and single desks.

  • Remote and synchronous

In a remote and synchronous collaboration system, everyone works together but from home or a third workplace. This is especially the case for distributed teams. Having the best online collaboration tools is paramount. 

  • Remote and asynchronous

The last type of collaboration for hybrid teams is when each member works individually and remotely. They focus on tasks for group projects but on their own. This often happens before switching to synchronous mode, for example. 

The role of the office space and its impact on collaboration

Focusing on individual tasks at home and planning collaborative work for on-site days

With hybrid work, many employees adapt their ways of working. The majority prioritizes individual tasks for the home office and keeps the ones related to group projects for the days in the office. Therefore, the role of the physical workplace is entirely changing.  Although some team members still enjoy working independently at the office, most look forward to booking a spot in a collective setup to work with their peers. CRE and facility managers must consider this aspect to rethink the purpose of the office and create a workspace that fulfils the hybrid workforce’s expectations. 

Creating areas that encourage ‘water-cooler interactions’ and team bonding

Another way the purpose of the office changes in a hybrid work environment is that it is no longer a place that is related to work duties only. It becomes a meeting point to socialize and reconnect with colleagues after a few days or weeks of working from home. What does this have to do with collaboration and office design? A lot because it means that there is a real interest in creating space dedicated to in-person interactions and team bonding. These “chill” zones are not made to work but to enjoy the time with workmates and build a genuine connection with each other. Enabling this strongly influences how employees interact and collaborate.

team of four co-workers talking and collaborating in a hybrid work environment

Building spaces designed for hybrid teams

The office landscape can contribute to better cohesion and teamwork in a flexible work environment, from hardware to software. Hybrid teams need access to specific hybrid collaboration tools and resources to work together without being in the same location. 

We’ve almost all had the videoconference experience of Samy’s cat passing in front of the screen and Chloe struggling with her poor internet connection. So, we all know that technology plays a key role in efficient collaboration in a hybrid work setup. Later in the article, we will explain the tools and resources available, how they foster hybrid collaboration, and why companies should highly consider investing in them.

👋 Do you want to improve your online meeting experience and boost collaboration? Check out the 7 remote work communication best practices every team leader should implement! 

Fostering teamwork and collaboration in a hybrid setup: best practices for CRE and facility managers

Data and people: your most valuable resources to create a thriving hybrid work environment

Data

The first step to creating a workspace that fosters teamwork and collaboration is to study your workplace analytics in detail. For example, you need to determine your office use and occupancy rates. Are collective areas primarily used by your hybrid workforce, or does your staff prefer to continue working on individual desks like in a traditional work model? Are some of the meeting rooms booked more often than others? If yes, is it because they are equipped with specific hardware? Data can answer all these questions and many more. But where do you get this information from? Workplace analytics is your golden mine; for example, you can find them on the deskbird app. 

Employees

Making data-based decisions is one of the keys to building a thriving work environment. However, people's opinion is the secret ingredient to foster collaboration and trigger satisfaction and happiness among our workforce. By asking workers directly, you can understand what is missing or could be improved in your hybrid setup. This can be done through an employee satisfaction questionnaire specific to that topic or while sharing a coffee with your colleagues.

All departments need to work together to design a successful collaborative working space

CRE and facility managers are crucial in building a work environment that boosts collaboration. However, teaming up with other departments is fundamental to creating a successful one. For instance, the work of the IT team is essential for implementing digital hybrid collaboration tools efficiently and safely. Team leaders help better understand what employees need to facilitate teamwork in the workplace. Finance managers define if those changes are financially doable. They can also determine how much your efforts to build a more collaborative work environment benefit the company’s wallet, which can support you in doing more.

🤩 Looking for solutions to optimize space and cut costs with a flexible office? Learn how you can save up to 30% with these cost-cutting ideas!

woman working at her laptop remotely using a desk booking app

Technology: its essential role in fostering teamwork and collaboration in the workplace

Room booking software

Room booking, like deskbird, is an integrated app that allows team members to reserve a meeting room for a specific time from their phone or their desktop. Your meeting rooms might not all be equipped the same. Some might have whiteboards and connected tables, while others have live screen-sharing systems. Using this space booking system, employees can make sure to get the meeting room they need to collaborate in optimal conditions.

Hybrid scheduling platform

Imagine how frustrating it is to come to the office and plan to work with a colleague on a common project to realize that this person is not working on-site that day. These situations can deeply impact the level of collaboration of employees. To solve this issue, we recommend you use a hybrid scheduling platform (the deskbird app is also equipped with a week planning feature). This way, managers and team members can see each other's timetables and plan their week accordingly.

Workplace analytics 

As mentioned, your workplace analytics is a valuable information source to create a working environment that fosters teamwork and collaboration. Through your digital infrastructure, continue to collect and examine data to determine if the office layout is used as you imagined it would be. It also enables you to detect areas of improvement to keep enhancing collaboration among your hybrid workforce.

💡 Check out our customers’ reviews to discover what our users think about the deskbird app!

Connected hardware

Smart office technology plays a key role in connecting on-site and remote employees in a hybrid work landscape. Companies specializing in this field are developing technologies we would have never thought about a few years ago. According to your needs and your budget, you can invest in the following hybrid collaboration tools:

  • live screen sharing;
  • VR (Virtual Reality) devices;
  • whiteboards;
  • connected tables;
  • smart coffee machines ☕ (don’t underestimate the power of a coffee break for team bonding and creative ideas);
  • etc.

You now know why transforming the digital workspace and redesigning your office is fundamental to fostering hybrid team collaboration. Analyzing data and discussing with employees and other departments lets you figure out where the hybrid workforce struggles the most and what to prioritize. With constructive feedback and good teamwork, you can fulfil the needs of people collaborating in a hybrid work environment. 

On top of adjusting the types of workspaces you offer, upgrading software and hardware must also be considered to equip your staff with the right tools and resources to make them thrive in a flexible work setup. Are you looking for a user-friendly hybrid workspace management system that adapts to your requirements?

Start a free trial of the deskbird app and discover critical features such as room booking, week planning, and office analytics

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Collaborating in a hybrid work environment: the link between office layout and teamwork

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

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