Advances in technology have given humanity the ability to work anytime, anywhere. By the end of 2020, flexible workspace concepts have become widespread and increasingly used in office design. The COVID-19 pandemic forced people to consider large gatherings of people, including business centers, a source of health hazards. The whole world began to organize so-called "home offices” urgently. At the moment, we are in a transitional period. Some of the employees are gradually returning to the office, but not in full force. Some are still working remotely from home.
The new role of the office
Hybrid takes a different approach to workspaces. This unprecedented level of flexibility provides more room for inspiration, and less control.
In a post-pandemic world, an office is needed for strategic sessions, brainstorms, business, and informal meetings.
Yet what the world has realized is that many meetings – and conversations – do not need to be held in person at all. In fact, when working for a large, distributed company, the web makes it easier to connect with global employees and clients that you might otherwise never come in contact with. Nowadays you can even conduct multilingual online meetings using remote interpreting platforms.
Which is one reason why large companies are abandoning traditional and expensive open spaces. In many places, offices are again being replaced by coworking spaces or flexible spaces with no fixed workspaces. If you need an offline meeting, an employee comes and takes any free table. But this emphasizes the importance of time management and overcoming the challenges that come with the adaptation to the new work model. That's why many companies utilize time management tools and software like Timely so that every task gets done on time.
What is another plus of abandoning the old headquarters format?
When renting a multifunctional space, entrepreneurs can outsource certain services and focus more attention on their business goals. The need for furniture, service, cleaning, receptionist, corporate security, technical support is already included in the monthly rent.
There is a chance that leading companies will soon be interested in other forms of corporate leases. For example, some companies are already considering giving up their expensive spaces in the city center so that they can rent several smaller offices in other areas. This way, employees can choose the point that is closest to them, cutting down on commuting times, to work in a smaller, more comfortable environment.
Cybersecurity risks in the hybrid workplace
When a significant part of society's life is spent on the internet, the demand for information security only increases. And as people have taken their jobs into their homes, the cybersecurity landscape is more perilous than ever. As the Wall Street Journal put it, “It’s a hacker’s dream: a constantly changing mix of office and remote workers, devices that move in and out of the company networks, and security staffs stretched thin.”
There are now two main risks for the corporate segment. First, you have employees connecting to companies' infrastructure from home computers, which are at higher risk of becoming infected due to unsafe WiFi and greater accessibility. Secondly, as workers are moving outside of secure office places, the volume of corporate traffic that needs to be encrypted increases. With so many messages happening over email and through instant messengers and social networks, it is easy to lose your guard and fall for the bait of scammers – for example, following a malicious link or responding to a phishing email. In this regard, small businesses might consider using a shared inbox to manage all the messages better and keep them safe.
For the strongest protection against phishing and other cyber attacks, companies should look at investing in Public Key Infrastructure through a reliable provider such as GlobalSign which offers a variety of cybersecurity solutions for remote and hybrid workplaces, including multi-factor authentication (as well as mobile authentication), email security and digital signatures.
While company leaders were dealing with a wide range of cybersecurity and insider threats, thousands of people were rebuilding to work from home throughout the past year – and suffered from uncomfortable tables and chairs, noise, longer-than-usual hours in the process. In August 2020, the demand for computer chairs and other office supplies rose sharply.
The hybrid model assumes that working remotely is as comfortable as working in the office. Yet if the work-from-home trend is to continue, it may soon become the employer's job to provide convenience to their workers, wherever they’re stationed. It may be wise for business executives to allocate a budget to help with furniture and office expenses.
Additional motivation for the team
Thanks to telecommuting, work efficiency has increased: people do not waste time on the road, going to lunch, or having water cooler chats. But there are also disadvantages. Lack of emotional contact with the team can cause stress, unnecessary anxiety, "impostor syndrome," and even depression. A hybrid model with partial office presence will help employees recover from months of isolation. This format is the best of both worlds and preferred for many HR teams across the globe.
What else can an employer do to help employees transition to the "hybrid" workplace? How else can leaders develop and improve collaboration in the workplace and at home? Arrange informal meetings more often: mini-corporate parties or teambuilding should continue no matter where your workers set down their laptops every day.
Despite the advantages, a hybrid work format has some disadvantages too – and cybersecurity might be the most serious of them all. Make sure when you are creating your “return to work” plans you include discussions with your IT teams and prioritize the safety and security of your company’s data.