In an ever-changing world, businesses are learning to evolve and reinventing the productivity model. Interior design and architecture teams are no different. These industries may be the last ones expected to embrace a hybrid work model, but not only are they doing so, but by changing their mindset about how work gets done and utilizing available technological tools, many teams are finding great success with a hybrid work model.
What is a hybrid work model?
At its simplest, hybrid work is splitting work time between a physical and a remote location. But what does that actually mean? Is it a 50/50 work time split? Not necessarily. Even with a 50/50 hybrid model, hybrid could mean a half-day in the office and a half-day remote every workday or half of the workdays on location and half remote. The exact definition of hybrid can change from firm to firm and from one individual to another within a firm.
It’s this ambiguity that can be off-putting for some firms as it seems too complicated to navigate these murky waters. However, it’s also this flexibility in the hybrid definition that can allow teams to reach maximum productivity when approached with an open mindset and a willingness to adjust. One person may only need to come to the physical workspace once a week to check-in and meet with clients, and another may do well with two days a week in-person and five days remote.
Ultimately, it’s the quality of the work produced, not the location, that benefits the team and the firm. With a hybrid work model rapidly gaining popularity, hybrid work is the future of team collaboration.
Redefining the workspace
When considering a hybrid work policy, a mindset shift is needed around what constitutes a workspace. In a traditional model, each team member has their own dedicated space that is customized based on the tasks they need to accomplish. However, with a hybrid work policy, workspaces need to be more flexible to accommodate different people at different times, performing a wide variety of functions. Perkins Eastman designed their Pittsburgh Studio based on their “hopes that ‘work from home’ will come to mean ‘work from anywhere.'” Hybrid work models create a prime opportunity for interior designers and architects to shine when reinventing the workspace. A hybrid model workspace may include:
- Variety. Diversity in the ways people choose to work includes more than where and when. By providing a variety of seating areas, ranging from desks to cafe tables and high-back chairs, team members can choose what workspace offers the most creativity and productivity for them.
- Flexibility. Free-standing or retractable walls allow spaces to be open when collaborating but closed when privacy is needed, and are another option for providing flexibility in workspace design.
- Portability. Tools, such as framed whiteboards on wheels that can be rolled from one area to another, provide the convenience of accessible tools provided by a traditional workspace while still providing the flexibility needed by a hybrid work model.
This change in mindset not only applies to workspaces but client-facing opportunities as well. The hybrid work model is an innovative way to approach productivity, but it is also a growing preference for clients. Like teams, clients have found they prefer variety in how they interact with businesses. Showrooms, events, and product presentations are just a few examples of formerly in-person activities where clients are now looking for new options in the choice between in-person and virtual opportunities, creating even more outreach opportunities for design firms.
One of the biggest concerns about a hybrid work policy is the potential for disconnect within teams. The key to removing this concern is intentionality in defining your culture. By defining what constitutes work, emphasizing team equality, focusing on team building, and encouraging communication, teams can become even more connected, leading to greater project creativity and success.
Traditionally, the definition of work has involved when, where, what, and who. In reality, it’s the who and what that deserves the most attention. When and where can often be the most significant obstacles to what needs to be accomplished. Remove the obstacles and approach work with a fresh view. Who do we need on our team, and what tools do they need to succeed? This approach will allow you to build a better, more creative team that gets the job done.
Emphasis Team Equality
In a hybrid team environment, out of sight can become out of mind if there isn’t intentionality around team equality. When adjusting to a hybrid environment, keep equality at the forefront of interactions and self-audit early in the process to make sure that contributions from team members aren’t overlooked, regardless of whether in-person or remote.
Focus on Team Building
Some of the best collaborations start from a chance work encounter or conversation in the break room. Not only is this true, but the relationships that make teams a cohesive unit spring from these types of moments. In a hybrid environment, those same relationships can be fostered through creative and innovative tools. Instead of leaving these encounters to chance, create virtual team-building events that can include team members wherever they are. By intentionally defining your culture, you define the future success of your team and your firm.
Communication is crucial to any work model. However, over-communication can be as much of an issue as lack of communication in a hybrid environment. In a traditional setting, if several people bring an issue to light, a quick meeting could be called, and the matter settled. This would be considered a synchronous-communication model.
In a hybrid model, communication comes in multiple forms and from many different sources. When this communication is properly documented and easily accessible regardless of where team members are and when they are available to access it, it is considered an asynchronous communication model. This model not only eliminates the need for time-consuming meetings but also ensures everyone has equal access to identical information.
However, even with the benefits of an asynchronous communication model, without an effective way to break communication into manageable components based on the matter being discussed, endless circles of confusion can become the norm. Fortunately, with the effective use of tools and clearly defined objectives, communication can be even more effective in a hybrid model due to the speed of the tools to bridge this gap.
Bridging the Gap with Collaborative Tools
Providing flexibility in the on-site work environment only benefits one of the dual-sided hybrid work model. Without the tools to prosper remotely, your team is no more effective than when everyone is working on-site. Access to collaborative tools that allow your team to remain a cohesive and creative team no matter where they are and whether together or apart, is crucial to the success of the hybrid work model. Fortunately, there are many tools that can ensure your team has everything it needs for success.
Take your whiteboard virtual with Miro. Teams are no longer limited by the size of a board or a room. Miro allows collaboration across teams and departments for brainstorming and project creativity. Their ready-made templates ensure that your team is able to collaborate quickly, efficiently, and effectively.
Video calls are simplified with Whereby. No apps, downloads, or long meeting links. Connect teams or customers easily without leaving your own platform using video call API. Impress clients and keep your team engaged with a user-friendly video meeting platform.
Communication is no longer a barrier to hybrid work with Slack. Slack keeps conversations focused through communication channels. Just as files can be organized to keep projects manageable and accessible for those who need access while freeing up those who do not, Slack does the same thing for team communication. Instead of one messaging platform shared by a variety of teams doing a variety of functions, thereby often cluttering communication across projects, Slack uses one platform but defines that platform into channels to better organize communication and optimize productivity.
Gather is a cloud-based collaboration tool that allows design teams to source products and materials faster and more easily by providing a clipper tool that can scrape and save important product information directly from vendor websites into your team’s cloud library – no more copy and paste or forgetting where a resource was found online.
Its product management tools help manage projects stress-free with a platform built to empower teams to work both independently and as a cohesive unit. All of your firm’s resources are at everyone’s fingertips, neatly organized, and ready to distribute, share, and reuse.
Whether categorizing selections, tracking budgets and calculating costs, or tracking important dates and assigning tasks, all of the tasks crucial to your project’s success are organized in a way to provide a clear picture of your project each step of the way.
With its export features, consistent and beautiful specifications, presentations, and reports can be shared with clients, contractors, or other stakeholders.
Hybrid Adaptation Success
Creativity and the ability to innovate and adapt is a driving force for interior design and architecture. Because of this, Interior design and architectural teams are ideal business models for considering a hybrid work policy. The success of a hybrid work policy begins with shifting the mindset of what work should look like, redefining the workspace, building a culture of unity, and utilizing innovative tools to create a collaborative environment conducive to success.
Gather can help. Start a free trial or request a demo of Gather and see how Gather can help your design team spend less time on repetitive tasks and more time designing and providing value to your clients.