How can I… redesign the office for hybrid work?
Hybrid work office design

How can we experiment before committing to new office equipment?

Purchasing new technology or furniture for a large organisation, such as a council, can be expensive. Coupled with the ever-changing understanding of what our future of work will actually look like, in particular with digital technology advancements, LOTI strongly recommends that boroughs do not purchase office equipment without first testing or piloting it. 

  1. Create employee personas

It is useful to start the process by creating personas to understand how different employees use the office. If an organisation understands its employees by these personas, it can help ensure it has the right types of space and the right proportion of each space. 

Design firm Perkins&Will, has created a number of different personas to help its clients redesign their offices, which might be useful (although employee personas may be unique for local government because of the nature of its work).

  • The anchor who stays in the same place in the office for 90% of the time doing heads down work
  • The resident who mostly works in the office but will willingly move about and collaborate
  • The transient who works in the office around two days a week and mostly works independently at reservable workstations
  • The nomad who works in the office around three days a week and is happy to move around and enjoys collaborative spaces
  • The trekker who rarely comes into the office because they are out in the community but may need ‘touch down’ spaces
  1. Test different options to find what works for your space 

LOTI recommends that councils take an experimental and incremental approach to upgrading their office space. Several boroughs have demonstrated how this might look in practice:

  • Camden Council has three specific ‘pilot floors’ on which it can test out different options to see what works (e.g. specific types of furniture, layouts and other features, such as signage)
  • Barnet Council has a specific room containing different types of furniture that it may roll out across the rest of the organisation in the future, such as pods for private calls and different types of open areas for collaboration (this is similar to Southwark Council’s Model Office)
  1. Properly evaluate experiments and pilots

Organisations need to know exactly what they are hoping to achieve with new furniture or office design and have ways of testing it to see what actually works. For example, an idea on paper (e.g. using a Microsoft Surface Pro) might not work as intended

The first step in evaluation is understanding exactly what the desired outcome was for the furniture or equipment. This outcome may stem from a central strategic document or set of principles that covers what an organisation wants its future of work to look like. Then, an organisation might try a variety of methods to ascertain how successful a particular design choice or piece of furniture is at producing the desired outcomes.

  1. User experience research

User journey mapping and other research methods can help organisations to understand how and why employees use certain spaces and see if they are using it in the way the organisation was hoping. 

  1. Surveys and questionnaires

These are helpful for understanding how employees reflect on using a space. Questionnaires can be shared digitally or by leaving hard copies in the space being evaluated and can be filled in without any staff support.

  1. Ethnography 

This is another useful method for evaluating whether a space is good for its intended purpose or not. It involves someone using the space and, whilst there, reflecting on how they are feeling and experiencing it. This might be most useful if a variety of different employees complete ethnographies for the same space.

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