We currently find ourselves in an unprecedented, yet in many cases advantageous, position, where full time office working is no longer necessary or beneficial. The impact of Covid-19 has resulted in countless London based businesses and organisations discovering the financial benefits of flexible working as well as the autonomy and freedom it can provide for employees. However, the office is far from redundant, with some unable to effectively work from home and others feeling deprived of the opportunity to collaborate and socialise. Thus, the need has arisen for offices to think outside the box and diversify their offering to meet a range of new needs.
Therefore, Canopi and Local Trust have been working with Impactful, a London based consultancy specialising in strategizing for social change and sustainability, to unlock the office’s full potential as our customers begin their transition into hybrid working.
Like many, Local Trust were thrown into remote working at the height of the pandemic, and Impactful identified both an external and internal need and desire for flexible working to continue. However, they also faced the conflicting need for collaborative spaces and a lack of enthusiasm for the new digital communication. As Local Trust are a forward-thinking organisation who take a ‘from the bottom up’ approach to business, both internally and externally, impactful were able to help them strategize with the needs of staff at the forefront, shaping the future of the business.
Impactful implemented a series of studies and research methods to identify the core values and needs of 54 staff members and consolidated their findings into key themes. These were centred around how to maintain Local Trust’s culture, how to foster a positive hybrid culture and enabling successful ways of working. The recommendations covered a few core areas, all of which are closely linked:
- The office
- Hybrid working and technology
In summary, Impactful proposed a reconfiguration of the existing office environment in order to facilitate collaboration between staff. This could involve repositioning desks and seating to create a more communal environment. Other considerations included:
- Increase brand embodiment and ethos in the office, for staff, new starters and all other stakeholders
- Multifunctional spaces to allow staff to change their ways of working dependant on need (quiet focus vs idea sharing)
- Use of furniture and dividers to maximise the amount of usable and practical space available
- Use of plants and natural light to improve moods and mental wellbeing
- Incorporating upgraded technology and collaborative tools
- Consideration of social distancing needs for the safety of staff
Hybrid working and technology
Impactful noted the need to support staff in the transition to hybrid working through the introduction of shared technologies and software for improved communication. In addition, this would be supported by training to ensure staff were able to use the systems effectively.
The introduction of booking software was also suggested, so that desks and equipment could be booked ahead of journeying to the office so that staff new they had the resources they needed when they arrived on site. Additionally, continuing the existing meetings and social discussions to nurture professional relationship building and comradery was encouraged. However, it was recommended that a clearer purpose for these was established and shared, so that they can add greater value to those who attend them.
Finally, a need to adapt the organisational culture into hybrid working was identified. Impactful made clear recommendations surrounding building social capital, training, and group discussion, for Local Trust in order to support their team:
- Mental wellbeing
- Physical health
- Team cohesion
Strategies included re-evaluating the core purpose of the regular team meetings already held by Local Trust. Thus, providing participants with a greater understanding of how they should expect to benefit from them, and subsequently increase attendance levels.
Additionally, consideration of the unique needs of individual staff members in line with the organisation’s objectives will enable Local Trust to devise flexible working solutions that are mutually favourable. This could extend to ensuring those who work remotely are set up for good physical health, such as carrying out computer workstation ergonomic assessments.
How Canopi are facilitating change
The benefits of adapting office spaces for this new hybrid way of working are clear to see and as a result, Canopi are continuing to improve our office environments for our current and future customers alike. The steps we are taking are designed to facilitate hybrid working and the collaboration between office-based staff members and those working remotely. This includes:
- Improving the AV facilities at our premises
- The introduction of co-working products
- Introducing an integrated desk booking system
- Investing in new and innovative technologies
- Optimising our various telephony services
- Regularly reviewing the operational needs of our users
- Ongoing social distancing and hygiene measures
Thanks to the insight from Impactful and the robust strategies and suggestions put forward. Local Trust are now in a strong position to move their business forward into a new hybrid way of working. They incorporate flexible hours for staff, allowing those who benefit from an office to work from the Canopi Borough building full time, while those who are based out of the area can continue to work remotely. Additionally, we at Canopihave also discovered new ways in which we can enable our clients to work cohesively and safely in a new hybrid dynamic.