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Everyone is discovering the benefits of working from home (WFH), yet 94% of employees want the option of returning to their offices at least some of the time. How are businesses redesigning their offices to get the best of both worlds?

WFH really came into its own in 2020. Organizations with pre-existing telework policies and infrastructure were well-positioned to expand WFH when the pandemic hit. Others were able to pivot quickly to WFH, and they discovered the valuable benefits: Reduced office space requirements and increased employee productivity. Those benefits, along with greater employee satisfaction, translated into lower costs.

But 100% WFH isn’t practical for every business, nor is it practical for every employee.

A hybrid workstyle balances WFH and office time. Many businesses are downsizing their old offices to a central hub office, where teams meet on a rotating schedule – marketing on Monday, product design on Wednesday. Heads-down work remains WFH, without the interruptions and distractions of day-to-day office life.

To create this hybrid workstyle, prominent businesses like Deloitte, KPMG, and the Bank of Montreal are redesigning their offices into a hub-and-spokes form. A downsized central office serves larger group meetings, and houses centralized functions like IT and document storage. Smaller teams meet at satellite offices or co-working spaces, giving them a shorter commute as well as cheaper office space. With a small hub in the expensive downtown real estate market, and less costly spokes in outlying areas, these organizations are seeing valuable cost savings.

However, hybrid offices do not relieve businesses of the need to build WFH infrastructure. To realize the full value of the hybrid workstyle, WFH must be supported with e-devices, software, and most important, data access. Sharing physical documents is relatively easy in an office, but often the information in those documents is needed during heads-down WFH. Document imaging is an essential part of a hybrid office. With imaging, the data contained in physical documents becomes accessible to all team members, searchable for greater efficiency, and secure through multiple layers of redundancy and permissions.

“The office will shift to become less about sitting in a desk all day and more so as a safe place for colleagues to collaborate, engage and interact,” says Todd Burns, President, Project and Development Services, JLL Americas. The hybrid office offers the best of both worlds – the productivity and employee satisfaction of WFH, and the cost savings of downsized offices. But only if the WFH infrastructure, including document imaging, is supported and maintained.

 

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