Welcome to the November 2021 edition of WorkplaceBytes, a monthly post for workplace & property professionals where we curate the best bits of data analysis, industry news and commentary.
Apple pushes back its return to office (again)
After months of internal tension and pushback over plans to make corporate employees go back to their office even for just a few days a week, Apple CEO Tim Cook told staff earlier this month the company is pushing back the start of its planned “hybrid work pilot” to Feb 1, 2022.
Cook said employees will be asked to come in one to two days a week for the first month. In March, it will implement its hybrid work plan, in which the majority of workers will be asked to come in Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The company is also increasing the amount of time employees can work remotely to four weeks per year.
While Apple is citing the rise of the delta variant as the main cause of the delay, it might just be that the risks of the ‘great resignation’ is starting to resound at Apple’s ringed HQ.
Global survey reveals how different genders and generations view the return to office
More than 1,000 Financial Times readers, from London to Qatar, participated in a survey on their hopes and concerns about returning to the office.
There was optimism about hybrid working, as people across the workforce from sectors including travel, technology and financial services seized on it as an opportunity for both men and women to enjoy the companionship of the office as well as attend to personal lives.
But there was also concern that flexible arrangements could falter because of poor management as face-time and presenteeism re-emerges as a feature of working life.
One particular worry was that hybrid work patterns might intensify gender inequality as women report wanting to spend less time in the office compared with men.
Another key concern was that of younger workers who reported being worried that sensior staff may be reluctant to return, leaving them without guidance and unable to build contacts and social capital.
“There are times when I’ll be sitting behind my screen not sure who to reach out to as I haven’t properly met everyone,” said one recent graduate. “My main worry is that my company being so flexible will mean people won’t come in which is a big disadvantage to new starters.”
How to break down siloes and reforge connection across teams in a hybrid workplace
Over the past 18 months, most of us have experienced some degree of fracturing as social connections and cultural cohesion in our workplaces were strained by distance, transactional slack chats and clunky zoom catch-ups.
Apparently the pandemic has been great for reinforcing siloes and organisational division in the workplace with research from Microsoft suggesting that cross-functional collaboration went down by 25% as interactions within groups increased during the pandemic.
In this Harvard Business Review article, Ron Carucci explores these dynamics and what we need to do as workplace leaders to rebuild cross -functional collaboration and reinvigorate relationships across organizations.
CBRE: 60% of large companies are redesigning their headquarters for a hybrid world
A report recently released by CBRE showed 60% of large companies are redesigning their headquarters, with one in four of those doing away with private offices, 69% having onsite coffee shops, 58% building auditoriums and 31% having outdoor spaces.
The survey of major occupiers found that significant shifts are underway in the way companies use, measure and manage both space and occupancy signalling changes that will forever alter the workplace.
The CBRE report’s lead author Susan Wasmund notes:
“People are choosing to do their heads-down work at home. They want to come back to collaborate, and they want to come back for team events.”
Why do we go to the office?
SAP shares insights from hybrid space experiments
In this Techcrunch op-ed, SAP shares the experience of rolling out their brand-new, hybrid work pilot program at their offices in Palo Alto.
For months, they’ve been testing different floor plans and setups, a variety of work schedules, the most productive uses of space and the ideal structure and composition of meetings.
So, what’s the TL:DR of what they learnt?
There are a variety of reasons people come back to the office and it’s not all about socialization. “Some simply prefer to separate their personal and professional spaces and are looking for individual quiet areas where they find themselves most productive. Open collaboration spaces are essential in the office, but so too are quiet zones and phone booths.”
Activity-based working styled “scrum neighbourhoods” were a popular setting. The environments are designed with 15 to 20 available desks, as well as quiet zones, meeting areas and phone booths set in beautiful and creative office spaces built to empower collaboration and teamwork.
Technology is key to powering both efficiency and collaboration in the space. “ Teams can use the app to coordinate when they come to the office together, and book spaces and phone rooms.”
Want to understand which spaces are consistently ‘over capacity’ as teams return to offices?
We get it. Juggling capacity restrictions with new hybrid workplace ratios and enticing people back into the office can be complicated.
Some people are itching to get back into the office to collaborate with their colleagues, while others are nervous about the precautions and protocols being put in place to ensure their safety – and as we aren’t completely out of the woods with respect to the pandemic, workplace teams need to manage COVID transmissions as much as possible.
The good news is that here at XY Sense we’ve developed some smart ‘return to office’ reporting tools which combined with our advanced area sensors, help you to monitor the occupancy and capacity levels of spaces across your workplace, giving you the information you need to keep your team’s safe and return to office program, on track.
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