Hybrid work, what future for offices?
Now, when we hold a meeting, it almost always includes a link. Whether in the office, telecommuting from home or elsewhere, we are no longer tied to a single location. That multi-functional place that shared everything: workspace, meeting rooms, computer equipment, coffee machine… has been replaced to varying degrees by the screen. Broadcasting and communication formats have evolved to adapt to these new conditions. Constraining for some, liberating for others, they have in any case generalized hybrid work, at the crossroads between professional and personal life. How does this translate into business? How will this revolution take hold over time? What new organizations are to be expected? More generally, what is the future of the office?
Hybrid work expands space typology but reduces surface area
Work from wherever you want, whenever you want. This is no longer the privilege of the self-employed but a new standard. An exceptional norm marking a point of no return, the possibility of choosing the place of exercise of one’s professional activity has become commonplace. Contrary to appearances, it is not binary.
Beyond the home or the company site, other alternatives have presented themselves: coworking spaces, outdoor environments (parks, gardens, cafés, terraces…). Professional nomadism is based on a new typology of spaces, based less on geographical criteria than on experiential and comfort criteria. In addition to the quest for meaning in daily life, there is the desire to preserve a balance between the collective and the individual. Hybrid work is both an answer and a question.
A challenge both logistically and financially, the desacralization of the office as the primary daytime occupation is forcing companies to rethink their workspace model. Global Workplace Analytics reports that offices are vacant 50-60% of the time and that regular telecommuting has grown 216% between 2005 and 2019 in the US. From this came the concepts of flex office, desk sharing, free seating… Similarly, work tools are no longer the same, now meeting essential mobility criteria: according to Statista, in July 2019, Microsoft Teams had 13 million daily active users. This collaborative platform now has more than 145 million since April 2021.
Hybrid work therefore extends the physical workspace into the sphere of connected and shared spaces. Digital technology has taken over from face-to-face work and has provided several significant benefits during the pandemic:
The place becomes flexible and agile, especially with a trend to reduce office space
Source : JLL
From now on, the needs are based on new selection criteria:
Finally, it is an entire historical and deeply rooted principle that is being overturned: that of the open space.
Hybrid work reinvents the open space
The concept of the open workspace dates back to the 1950s in Germany:
The pandemic has taught us to work from our kitchen or living room. But will employees work from the office cafeteria or meeting rooms? Open space is open but it freezes positions. Each desk is assigned and each space has a unique use. With the redefinition of workforce fluctuations, one of the emerging solutions is to stop allocating desks and share them. It’s no longer a question of cohabiting with your office neighbor, but rather of putting yourself where there’s room.
As video meetings are part of our daily routine, it is important to be in a quiet and sufficiently isolated space to hear and be heard. The open space configuration is, in this sense, limited. If the occupancy rate is high, the surrounding noise and the lack of confidentiality of the exchanges complete the complexity of the management of these meetings.
Does hybrid work mark the return of the single office? Yes and no.
The worker must adapt less to the workspace than the other way around. While remaining open, the open space must be able to close if necessary.
Furniture and technology for innovation
Since the work environment is more flexible, places must now have several options that can be used by an individual within a collective space. Office staging responds to this functional and experimental evolution. The same place must be used for multiple purposes by different people, so the furniture must be arranged accordingly. It is not simply a question of positioning objects but of rethinking their interest according to the different possible combinations: of tasks, professions, technicality, digital appetence etc.
Leading space and furniture designers such as Steelcase understand that furniture is an integral part of the well-being of hybrid workplaces. That’s why new workspaces are equipped with insulating cubicles, divided into semi- or fully partitioned areas. The need to disseminate information efficiently and instantly is also growing: screens are multiplying and Wi-Fi connections are expanding. Technological innovation now conditions the appreciation of the place and the services it offers.
One of these services is the creation of instantly shareable content. Indeed, new communication channels, whether synchronous or asynchronous, require that messages be presented in an increasingly entertaining and interactive way. MOOCs, webmeetings and any other video format meet the same needs:
Number of emails sent per day worldwide
In 2025 this figure should reach
Number of email users worldwide
In 2023 this figure should reach
(Sources : Statista, Globe Newswire, LifeSize, Ring central)
These figures clearly show the importance of video, which fully meets the objectives of hybrid work. Why is video recording key to communication? This is one of the reasons why more and more companies are equipping their offices with a Rapidmooc studio. All-in-one video production solutions, our models cleverly combine filming equipment with editing and production software. It is very easy to use and can be easily integrated into any type of structure. A condensed technology with optimal dimensions, it takes up little space but offers many possibilities! Find out more here
As you can see, offices still have a long life ahead of them, provided they are regularly renewed and sufficiently adapted to constantly changing needs.
With over 400 studios deployed in more than 20 countries, we are working to facilitate the implementation of our all-in-one solution within universities and corporations. Looking for a new training tool? Contact us and discover the Rapidmooc philosophy