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5 min read

How to figure out if you should ditch your office

This blog was guest written for us by the team at Hubble.
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There’s no doubt that Covid has transformed the way we work, potentially forever. The reigning five-days-in-the-office week is over, and what the “future of work” looks like has been left for us, companies, to decide. 

This is empowering, for sure—but it’s still no easy task. Preferences will vary wildly from person to person, and the government’s easing of restrictions is only adding to the urgency. 

While some companies are already planning to return to the office full-time, others are opting for a more hybrid approach. Some have even gone a step further and chosen to go remote-first. 

But here lies the question: Should you ditch your office? At a glance, there’s no quick, clear-cut answer. But at Hubble, we can help you get to one. In this blog, we’ll explore the process you should take to figure out if you should ditch your office—from start to finish.

So, what are the first steps?

Before you make the big decision, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to ensure it’s the right one. For us at Hubble, collaboration and inclusivity are vital in drawing up a back-to-work strategy—and the policies you create will need to reflect the sentiments of your employees. 

But why? And how can you go about gathering this data? Let’s take a look.

1) Ask your team how they want to work

This is so important. The pandemic has, without a doubt, opened employees’ eyes to the benefits of flexible working. And as we move forward into this new era, employees will start to have a considerable influence on companies’ workplace strategies. So you’ll want to avoid being too draconian in issuing a back-to-work order. 

Employers who listen to their teams’ needs will have a happy and productive workforce. But every employee will have different requirements and preferences, so the best thing you can do is speak with them. You could do this by:

  • Ensuring that all managers have had 1:1 check-ins with their teams about how they’d want to work moving forward
  • Forming a small company culture working group with people representing all levels and departments to brainstorm ideas
  • Running a team survey to find out how and where employees would most like to work in the future

You may have already run a survey during the pandemic. But if it’s over a couple of months old, we’d recommend sending another one out. It’s been a turbulent time, so your employees’ preferences may have changed. So, issuing another survey for free is one of the best ways to stay on top of things.

2) Figure out what you’ll need from your employees

At Hubble, we believe that clarity and balance are essential when figuring out your future workplace strategy. So, the second step is to set your non-negotiables

But what does that mean?

Non-negotiables are the expectations you should set, as an employer, to avoid confusion around long-term working practices. These expectations will clarify how much flexibility your employees can have when working under your future workplace strategy—so they’re super important.

For example: you may expect your team to be in the office one day per week—perhaps for a regular all-hands meeting, or because you feel it’s important for your culture. If that’s the case, you need to set these expectations up front to avoid any misunderstandings later down the line. And if employees know the thinking behind why it’s important for them to be in, they’ll be much more comfortable to follow suit—resulting in  a more productive, happier workforce for all. 

You could also consider setting “non-negotiables” around which roles and tasks you expect to happen in person and what you’re happy for employees to do remotely. It’s these kinds of policies that help bring balance to your future workplace strategy and set the right precedent going forward.

3) Use those insights to figure out next steps

So, you’ve compiled up-to-date data on your employees’ preferences, and you’ve outlined the non-negotiables in your future workplace strategy. You should now have a clearer idea of whether the office is something your company will need in the future.

It’s important to note that as your strategy evolves, you should always refer to the data to inform any decisions you make. It’s this that helps to keep your employees at the forefront of the decision-making, which they’ll appreciate. 

But in terms of keeping or ditching the office, there’s one thing we’d like to clarify…

Ditch your office or ditch the office?

There’s a huge difference between ditching your current office and ditching the office altogether—and it’s worth thinking through both of these options carefully. To help you start off on the right foot, here are a few potential deal breakers that could indicate whether you should keep your existing company HQ: 

  • You’re tied into a contract that is difficult / expensive to get out of
  • It’s likely that your whole team will be in the office on a regular basis
  • You’ve really made your office “your own”—perhaps your branding is on the walls, and you feel that it plays a pivotal role in keeping your culture alive and attracting clients

Of course, if you’re keen to keep your existing space but are looking to make it more suitable for the new world of work, you could always repurpose it to allow for the kinds of interactions that remote working doesn’t allow. For example, you could carve out extra breakout space for brainstorming or meeting rooms for when you need to host clients. This is great for businesses that are tied into a lease for the foreseeable future.

Ditch your office or ditch the office?

If you’re open to exploring other avenues, there are many hybrid / flexible workplace options that will enable you to incorporate office working into your future strategy. You could:

  • Opt for a smaller HQ (or HQs) that all employees have access to 

Many workspace providers allow businesses to take a smaller, private office space that’ll hold a portion of employees, with extra access cards for the wider team. This option is perfect if you’d like to decrease your office footprint but still have a central company base.

  • Take a membership with an office provider that allows multi-location access

Some workspace providers also allow tenants to access any of the workspaces in their portfolio—meaning employees can work from the building that’s most convenient for them. This option is ideal for teams who have enjoyed not commuting.

  • Take an office part-time 

If you decide to keep your office, but your survey results show that employees won’t use it every day/week of the year, then an office timeshare is a great option.

Office timesharing allows you to keep your office on a “part-time” basis—by sharing ownership, costs, and usage with other companies. All you need to do is decide on a schedule that suits all parties and split the cost accordingly. This can be tricky to organise—especially in the current climate. So be sure to factor in plenty of time to plan this into your strategy. 

  • Give employees access to on-demand space

This option allows businesses to give their employees access to high-quality workspaces whenever they’re not required to be in the company HQ. You could do this by giving your team access to local coworking spaces around the world—with the Hubble Pass being a great, simple choice. 

  • A combination of a number of the above 

As there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the future of work, most businesses will likely adopt a combination of these strategies—and that’s the beauty of it. 

Office or no office, these steps will help you design your future workplace strategy to suit your businesses needs.

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Guest Author
4 min read
“Flexibility to me means treating employees like adults - it's the output thats important not the input, and that's what should be measured” - Kirsty Baggs-Morgan

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