The workplace was greatly affected by all of the sudden changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some businesses migrated solely online; others adjusted to the new demands. This was the arrival of the new hybrid workplace.

Organizations not only adapted but managed to fully shift the narrative on what workplace culture could actually represent. The bkm team has worked tirelessly to make sure that the post-pandemic experience for our clients remains somewhat the same—or even better. That’s why we’re introducing bkm Pulse, a new digital magazine that puts a spotlight on the transition from traditional work environments to hybrid workplace cultures.

We’ve discovered what makes a hybrid office thrive, move forward, and how to make it all happen.

The Future: Collaboration in the Hybrid Workplace

Pre-pandemic, collaboration in any traditional workplace could have been inevitable. As we move toward the future, cultivating collaboration in a hybrid work environment could now take more skill, patience, and expertise. It takes having the right tools and resources—i.e. furniture or technology that supports remote working. At other times, it’s also about layout and design. Finding the right balance is part of the challenge. Hybrid office layouts that inspire collaboration between employees are often intricate, complex models that perform most effectively when the needs and interests of the employees are taken into consideration. In our first volume of bkm Pulse, we’ll be highlighting some of what it takes to cultivate and inspire collaboration in the workplace.

Building Hybrid Work Environments

So how do you build a hybrid workplace? Does it start with the design? The spacing between the desks and chairs? Or the types of groundbreaking technology utilized in an office? Here’s a secret: it’s about far more than any of those things on an individual scale. It’s important to realize that the many parts that make up the hybrid office are nearly useless if they don’t all function and work together. Organizations can start by redesigning the infrastructure in their spaces—i.e. open collaboration areas—to inspire a sense of community. After more than a year spent away from the public, employees are likely to appreciate accommodations that make them feel connected and seen.

Hybrid Workplace Culture

Next comes culture. Who are the people, places, and things that fill your space? Is there enough greenery? Enough chairs for both lounging and conference meetings? Do your employees have options? Pre-pandemic, it was likely easier to find potential employees who offered the perfect skills laid out on a resume. But after a year of isolation, candidates are becoming awfully particular about when, where, and how they work. Organizations are also beginning to seek out employees who bring something unique and valuable to add to workplace culture.

The Year of the Return: Welcoming Employees Back to a Hybrid Workplace

As changes are made in the office, it’s important to ensure organizations are putting strategies in place that will only help build a stronger, more productive workplace culture. Here are 6 tips we think could help make that happen.

1. Schedule Transparency

Develop a system that clarifies who will be working in person and who will be working remotely. This will help you keep track of who comes into the office, and when. It will also help to determine the amount of space and the type of technology needed. If this is accessible to all employees and staff, people can be more prepared to plan the best possible collaboration experience.

2. Social Start

Make proper introductions so that everyone in the room—and on video—is familiar (remote participants should have video on whenever possible). You can start each meeting with just a few minutes of check-in to build social capital.

3. Hear and Be Heard

Know, and clearly mark, where microphones are located within the room. Make sure everyone who is remote can hear and be heard. Ask people to avoid making noise that will make it harder to hear—i.e. loud typing, miscellaneous noise, and side chatter.

4. See and Be Seen

Consider assigning an in-person participant to pay attention to what’s being seen remotely. Does the camera need to move? Is the content in clear view? Do you need to send a photo for a better close-up of what’s on the markerboard?

5. Pause with Purpose

Stop regularly and ask remote participants if they are following along. Develop engagement protocols based on group size and the type of work. Will everyone raise their hand digitally? Who will monitor the chat? How will you ensure remote participants can jump in and engage?

6. Clear Next Steps

One of the worst experiences as a remote participant is missing the wrap-up conversation that often happens after a meeting is officially over. Avoid this by ending each collaboration session with clearly stated and visible next steps.

To learn more about bkm and how we can fill all of your office needs, visit us here. And keep your eyes peeled for bkm Pulse Magazine—launching Q4 2021.