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Post-Pandemic Office Design for the Hybrid Workplace

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The shift to hybrid work has sparked lots of changes. Along the way, Scoop itself has been on a journey to understand what to expect in the new hybrid workplace. You can see some of our learnings so far in our articles and guides under Scoop’s resources

One of our key questions has been: What is the best post-pandemic office design? In this article, we hope to share some of the insights we’ve learned and help you reimagine your office space for the new hybrid workplace. This will be a two-part article with a follow-up to share what we have piloted and where we finally landed.

Why Should the Office Be Any Different?

Historically, remote workers have had to endure a sub-par experience compared to the team in the office, but over the course of the pandemic, we learned that we can be efficient and productive from home. As we transition back into the office, there shouldn’t be a negative impact on the performance, morale, and satisfaction of employees. It’s all a matter of making sure that being in the office adds value.

Pre-Pandemic vs. Post-Pandemic Office Design: 7 Hybrid Workspace Recommendations

In the pre-pandemic world, offices were formulaic. Pods had appeared, everyone had their own desk. There were meeting rooms and phone booths. Some offices had casual areas, all-hands areas, or lounge areas.

But what does the post-pandemic office look like? Through research we’ve identified seven core hybrid office design principles that we now recommend.

1. Reduced Number of Desks

If you expect that your associates won’t be coming in every day or that they’ll be coming in on different days, then it becomes inefficient to allocate one desk per person. For Scoop’s initial office rollout beta, we will be applying this formula: For the percentage of the workforce who will be coming into the office,  allow desks for 75% of them.This is based on the assumption that not everyone will come in on the same day and that not everyone coming in will use a desk. 

There are two things to consider here. First, you may need to adjust this formula based on your team. Surveying your team is a great opportunity to determine their needs.

Secondly, if you haven't already, utilize a tool like Scoop Hybrid Workplace Utilization, which can manage your capacity to ensure people don't come into the office only to find there isn’t a desk for them. It also allows them to see if there is “flexible capacity” — such as a couch available to them. Which brings us to the next office design principle …

2. Lounge, Central Perk–style

An important part of the new hybrid office will be a lounge, which will serve as a hangout area — a casual place to relax. Furnish your lounge area with couches, comfy chairs, and rugs, as well as some small desks or high tables and barstools where people can eat lunch.

This environment can provide a few things that other settings — such as a desk – won’t. Namely, it allows for more social interaction. If it contains whiteboards or portable meeting barriers, the lounge can serve as a casual space for brainstorming sessions outside of a formal meeting room.

3. Library

Whether they have children or roommates, or just not enough space, some people find working at home to be too hectic and distracting. A library offers a quiet space in the office to focus without interruption. 

To create a library, consider taking an existing meeting room and putting a few desks in there, and put up “No Talking” or “Quiet Please” signs to gently remind associates to keep it down. Before creating a library in your office, we recommend surveying your team to make sure they see value in this. 

4. Cubbies

In the pre-pandemic world, most people had a fixed desk, and most desks had a set of drawers and a small cabinet where personal things could be kept. In the new post-pandemic hybrid workspace, while most people won’t mind using “hotel desks” — a temporary desk for the day or week — they may not want to bring everything home with them. 

Consider cubbies, such as the ones used in children's daycare centers, or lockers, which will allow associates to leave some of their personal possessions (for example, their coffee mug, keyboard, spare hoodie, or phone charger) without impacting other office workers.

5. Better, Hybrid-Friendly Meeting Rooms

Pre-COVID-19, your typical meeting room usually looked something like this: On one wall there was a whiteboard, on another wall a television. A camera faced a table in the middle of the room. Chairs surrounded the table on all sides. Sometimes, when common sense prevailed, there was no chair between the camera and the desk. There was also a microphone on the camera, and there was sometimes an extra microphone on the table. In a larger room, there could be multiple microphones.

This worked great … or did it?  What was it really like to be at home in these meetings if you were working remotely for some reason? You couldn’t see everyone’s faces, the audio was often poor, and you couldn’t see the whiteboard.

Google has designed an outstanding solution for this in their own office :

Source: NY times

For a more cost-efficient solution, Owl Labs offers a 360-degree camera that can sit on an existing meeting table and show all the participants in a room. They also offer a Whiteboard Owl, which films the whiteboard but makes the presenter opaque and enhances the color saturation of the whiteboard, making it easier to see.

Another alternative is to purchase a touchscreen TV built for Zoom, such as the DTEN or Neat devices. These combine touchscreen technology with whiteboards. Think back to the classic school “smartboard.” But now it’s designed to work over Zoom, so everyone at home can see it too.

6. Meeting Pods and Phone Booths

Meeting pods and phone booths were becoming increasingly popular even before the pandemic. The phone booth is a spin on the classic public phone booth reimagined as an individual sound-proofed desk for privacy and phone calls. Meeting pods are great for open-plan office spaces that are low on meeting rooms.

7. Bar Table Options

Our final principle is to reconsider the design of your offline meeting rooms. The classic room is furnished with a circular desk. But now, with fewer people in the office, will you just have two people talking and whiteboarding? If this is the case, it might make more sense for them to sit on a low bench against a wall with a whiteboard so that they’re both facing the board — or each other — allowing them to collaborate more easily. This design could work for both a standard room or in a standalone meeting pod. 

Source: Framery

What Will Your Hybrid Workspace Look Like?

While this article is intended to give you some ideas for your post-pandemic office design, your hybrid workspace will be as unique as your company and culture. It might take some time before you settle on a design that works best for your particular team. Stay tuned for part two of this article where we will share what we piloted and our final recommendations.

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Post-Pandemic Office Design for the Hybrid Workplace


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