Office Managers, we see you! As your company’s operational lynchpin and often the face of your workforce, you are one of the most crucial members of your organization. Without someone like you, it’s quite possible that the company would fall apart, and that’s not an exaggeration.
In our particular line of work in workplace innovation, we're lucky enough to get close with Office Managers from companies of all different sizes. As we enter 2023 and hybrid work becomes more permanent, we thought it could be helpful to share a few insights and tips that we’ve found from working with these dedicated managers running the offices, facilities, in some cases IT, and much more in their hybrid companies.
Why Does a Good Hybrid Workplace Matter?
It’s not news that hybrid work offers several benefits to both employees and businesses, such as greater work-life balance, cost savings, increased focus, and more diverse talent pools. However, there are also challenges to a hybrid workplace that if overlooked, can drag productivity and company culture down and defeat the purpose of a flexible office strategy. Amongst these challenges are feelings of isolation and disconnection, logistical burdens, and confusion around expectations.
Establishing a well thought-out and deliberate plan for managing a hybrid office, including transitioning to a hybrid work model, will make all the difference in tackling challenges and ensuring that employees are supported and enabled. A good hybrid workplace matters because it can make or break your company culture, and impact employee productivity and retention in a big way.
Here are tips for Office Managers to create a successful hybrid workplace this 2023:
Tip #1: Rethink Floor Space
Space management was always important, but the need to creatively rethink the office with a focus on flexibility and experience has never been more integral than now as we navigate economic headwinds and employee wellbeing. A few strategies I’ve seen work well with Facilities and Office Managers with whom we work are:
- The use of interactive floor maps with real time availability of rooms and desks.
- Cutting big meeting rooms in half in favor of smaller focus rooms or even open space.
- Unique wellness spaces that employees may not have at home like outdoor areas, standing and treadmill desks, and on-site meditation and exercise classes.
Optimizing your office floor space will have immediate and long-term benefits. These tips are just a few ways to achieve greater flexibility, collaboration, and cost savings.
Tip #2: Nip Isolation in the Bud with Creative Social Ideas
Another common challenge in running a hybrid office is ensuring that remote employees don’t feel isolated or left out. Given how front and center they are to daily operations, Office Managers are uniquely placed to help foster connections and communication between people.
Offering creative social ideas such as monthly movie showings can be a game changer, or perhaps giving remote workers a designated in-office work buddy can establish a sense of togetherness and help remote employees feel just as much a part of company culture as your in-office employees.
Working from home makes it a lot harder to nurture social connections, and now with the choice to come in or stay home, employees coming into the office desire experiences that offer something different from home. Making the extra effort to bring a sense of community creates lasting impact for the better and can make the difference in a company’s morale.
Tip #3: Create a Flexible Office With Space Management Software
Techniques to allocate resources, improve efficiency, forecast office spend, and manage space are nothing new, but they have been rocked to their core and fundamentally disrupted over the last three years. Office Managers in a flexible workplace now need tools to support a multi-dimensional work week, and employees need the ability to easily book desks and manage rooms on the go.
While it’s great to see a colleague’s face on a screen, nothing can beat the experience of coming together in person, and in the modern world, we’re often bouncing between multiple offices and cities. A space scheduling platform or hoteling app can make all the difference by removing the hassle of manually managing the booking and scheduling of your spaces and allowing Facilities and Office Managers to focus more strategically and less on administrative burden.
Leaning on the right booking software doesn’t have to cost a lot and can change the entire workplace experience, allowing people to meet, collaborate, socialize, and be more productive with others. This is definitely a trick not to pass over and one with a measurably high ROI.
Tip #4: Get an Equipment Management System
Getting everyone what they need when they need it is no easy task on the best of days, and coupled with a hybrid culture and a growing company, this can quickly get out of hand (not to mention out of compliance). Things like laptops, reliable internet, and necessary IT software or tools require speedy logistics and security checks and a flexible service team that can help employees both onsite and virtually.
This area of management can fall somewhere between Facilities, IT, and HR and it usually takes strong collaboration between the three to successfully operate and scale here. A couple tips that we’ve seen work well across companies of all sizes are:
- Use a remote equipment management system such as Fristbase, Growork, or Workwise that easily manages and tracks logistics of company property.
- For IT, preload laptops with all the software employees need before sending them and make it as easy as possible for people to return equipment.
- Offer stipends to fill in the gaps for desk supplies (between $500 - $1,000 is considered good).
Tip #5: Create a Real-time Listening Loop To Improve Workplace Experience
Your physical workplace environment, culture, and technology play critical roles in shaping the employee experience, and keeping a close ear on the wellbeing and sentiments of those around us can help a company quickly respond to potential hiccups before they arise and improve employee satisfaction. Being on the front line and in many ways serving as the face of the company, Office Managers naturally have their eyes and ears to the ground and are in a unique position to help here.
In our conversations with Office Managers at hybrid companies, a best practice that bubbles up is to create real-time listening loops that make it easy for employees to give feedback about their workplace experience, and the ability for company leadership to listen and respond swiftly and authentically. This doesn’t necessarily require new and expensive HR technology – it just takes time investment and commitment from Executive staff and others who can steer communication. Being in the unique position they’re in, Office Managers can be cheerleaders for influence here by offering recommendations for feedback posts and two-way communication at accessible points virtually and physically.
Slido is a great tool to consider for virtual Q&A, company All Hands, and feedback collection that has a neat feature of upvoting submissions by employees, so everyone has a chance to democratically vote on what gets actioned.
Rewarding employees for providing feedback, whether positive or negative, can foster an authentic sense of engagement and encourage transparency and accountability – key pillars in company leadership going into 2023 and beyond.
It’s never been more critical than now to think outside the box in running a successful flexible office, and a good hybrid culture can drive significant company cost savings, improve productivity, and boost employee retention.
To summarize, the five tips we recommend leaning into for hybrid office management are:
- Re-think floor space
- Nip isolation in the bud with creative social ideas
- Create a flexible office with space management software
- Get an equipment management system
- Create a real-time listening loop to improve workplace experience
For strategies on how to best manage change when transitioning to hybrid work, read Transitioning to Hybrid Work? 10 Steps to Best Manage the Change. If you’re ready to start scheduling and booking desks and rooms, create your free Skedda account today.