Sunday Nov 27, 2022

Flexibility and the future of work – Fast Company


We are in a unique moment in history. Everything we thought we knew about work, the office, and the importance of in-person coworking was flipped on its head. We now have the opportunity to shape what the future of work looks like.  

Leaders should relish this moment, taking the time to research and design new experiences, just like our tech or product colleagues do. They should apply what they have learned over the last two years and focus on the path forward. The flashy perks (free snacks, yoga classes, ping-pong) that once attracted and retained talent simply won’t work anymore.  

So what comes next?  

The future of work requires some experimentation. There will be trial and error along the way, so leaders should be prepared for a bumpy period. What we do know is that throughout the last two years of the pandemic, employees have placed a higher value on flexibility and the ability to design their own experience in a remote setting. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some of the experiments and research and design strategies my team and I will implement over the next few months. 

Slowly but surely increase capacity

The pandemic challenged assumptions about the purpose of an office for employees, beyond just a place to work independently and take calls. For example, younger employees and certain departments may benefit from face-to-face time as they learn through observation, in-person meetings with mentors and conducting themselves professionally in an office environment for the first time. On the other hand, some employees are caregivers or have long commutes and might thrive better in a hybrid model or a fully remote model.  

One way to test the use of your office space is to increase office capacity incrementally. Over the past months, we have increased office capacity from 20% occupancy with assigned desks to 50% occupancy with employees reserving desks as needed. We are excited to increase our office capacity to 70%+ occupancy over the next month. The model has benefited our employees by giving them time to adjust back into an office environment after working remotely for an extended period of time.  

We’re also considering how employees can engage with the hybrid model in a meaningful way. What we found is that it’s the small things that matter most.  

Very few of us know for sure how we’re going to get into the rhythm of taking hybrid meetings (some people in a conference room, some on the phone from our desk, or in a phone booth), let alone how we’ll feel in a completely full office again. To help people feel a little more comfortable designing their experience, we’ve made little changes like referring to meeting rooms as spaces for “collaboration” to underline and clearly define the purpose of in-office days.  

Emphasize personal preference and responsibility

Every employee has different needs and preferences, both in and outside of work. That sounds obvious, but it’s the most important thing to keep in mind when designing an approach to returning to the office. Employees also …….


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