Harvard Business Review Provides View of Office of the Future

  • Harvard Business Review recently published an article entitled 4 Strategies for Building a Hybrid Workplace that Works. The article was authored jointly by Jim Keane, President and CEO of Steelcase, and Todd Heiser, a Principal and Co-Managing Director of the Chicago office of Gensler. Gensler is a large integrated architecture, design, planning, and consulting firm with 5,500 professionals in 49 offices and 16 countries.
  • The authors begin by noting that “by all indications, the future of work is hybrid: 52% of U.S. workers would prefer a mix of working from home and the office [emphasis added], saying it has a positive impact on their ability to be creative, solve problems, and build relationships.”
  • The worker preference is congruent with that of corporate leaders, 72% of whom (according to Steelcase’s global research) plan to offer a hybrid model. At the same time, only 13% of those leaders aver that they expect to decrease their real estate footprint in the short term (the next year).
  • The authors caution that “getting hybrid right is hard” but opine that “a well-executed hybrid workplace can be a magnet that brings people together to work better than ever before.” They then offer four design approaches to executives to consider in creating their hybrid strategy:
  1. Braid the Digital and Physical Experience. To truncate the potential for remote workers to feel frustrated and disengaged, integrate physical spaces and technology with three concepts in mind: equity, engagement, and ease.
  2. Flip Enclosed and Open Spaces. Rethink the legacy open plan where meetings were in enclosed spaces and individual stations were open and dense.
  3. Shift from Fixed to Fluid. A hybrid future implies a more fluid workplace that can flex as needs change, thereby accelerating innovation, advancing the organization’s culture, and optimizing real estate.
  4. Balance “We” and “Me” Work. The pandemic caused leaders to conclude that the office is a place for collaborative work. The office to which people return must offer a better experience than what they have at home, which means having a mix of spaces for the types of work that need to get done.




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