The Hybrid Workplace: How to Capitalise on this New Way of Working

There has been no shortage of discussion about the hybrid workplace.

Since the emergence of the highly infectious COVID-19 virus relegated us all to working from home, there has been a question of how we would return to the office. Of course, the answer can be very straightforward: tell employees they are expected to come back in. But many companies shifted enormously to enable their workforce to work remotely and found minimal discernible differences in productivity. On the flipside, most employees report they enjoy not commuting every day and put the extra time back into work, or hobbies, or spending time with loved ones. PwC found that 74 percent of Australians want a mix of face-to-face and remote working of differing degrees. So, whilst the pandemic threat is receding, it has left a huge legacy on how we work, giving rise to the hybrid workplace model where work can take place anywhere, not just the office.

The hybrid workplace problem 

Such a seismic shift in how we work comes with challenges. The biggest of all being around how to create a culture of collaboration that strives towards a common organisational goal. With so much inconsistency around where team members are and on what days, it can be difficult to bring people together.

Policies are still being ironed out, but so far, the typical hybrid workplace splits the working week with two days at home and three days in the office, or vice versa. Days at home are for focusing with fewer scheduled meetings. Days in the office are for connecting and collaborating with colleagues. McKinsey found that for employees in the finance, management, professional services and information sectors this is expected to be standard procedure for the long-term future.

So, what then becomes of the office. Questions arise such as: is it necessary to have a workstation for everyone, could floorspace be reduced to save costs, and how do we best facilitate collaboration without disturbing others? Additionally, companies want to build more flexibility into their fitouts to allow them to respond easily as how we work evolves and the nature of their business changes. One thing is certain, with people coming into the office much less, it’s important to capitalise on spaces that bring people together. 

Design solutions for the hybrid workplace 

Companies are turning to designers to help reengineer their offices for the hybrid workplace. Koskela has 21-years' experience in the workplace furniture and design industry. Koskela’s co-founder, Russel Koskela, is a workplace interior designer by trade who saw an opportunity to design world-class furniture that could be manufactured in Australia. Throughout the pandemic, Koskela has been consulting with companies to understand their pain points and designing furniture solutions that can have a transformative impact.

Koskela has 21-years' experience in the workplace furniture and design industry.

 

Six months in development, Koskela is excited to release the new WorkHub™ collection for the hybrid workplace. The collection consists of two product ranges: Boobook and Jacob. Both products are designed for collaboration but offer a range of different features.  

Explore the WorkHub™ Collection

 

Introducing Boobook 

Floor plans are being rejigged to focus more on creating team based spaces and Boobook facilitates this transition. The modular screening system can be utilised to create team-focused “neighbourhoods”. There are infinite configurations that can be specified, however Koskela referenced Clive Wilkson Architects’ 12 Building Blocks of the New Workplace to devise nine recommendations for the hybrid workplace. Koskela’s Boobook can be configured for big groups to pitch or co-create, or for smaller groups to catchup using booths or desks.

Koskela has made it easy to quickly connect with collaborators working remotely by partnering with an AV partner to select the best AV package for the layouts we’ve designed.

Employees want the flexibility to be able to plug in anywhere and seamlessly connect with collaborators working remotely.

 

Sound reduction was another critical consideration – it’s hard to concentrate when there are people on video calls or working collaboratively around you. Koskela’s industrial designers worked on developing a dual barrier to help dampen the sound generated by users. Given our commitment to sustainability, we sought to incorporate materials diverted from landfill. The infill for Boobook is made of Replas, recycled milk and juice bottles and bottle caps, moulded into a rigid board that reflects sound. To soften Boobook a doona was developed that is lined with Woolpack. This is a biodegradable biproduct of the wool industry that absorbs sound. With this dual barrier, independent acoustic testing showed that sound transmission is reduced by 5.1 dBA, and is noticeably fainter.

Boobook's AV integration

Boobook's AV integration

Boobook's recycled plastic infill

Take a closer look at the Boobook screen

 

Introducing Jacob (2.0) 

Jacob was originally released in 2019 as a highback sofa that offers sanctuary in open-plan environments.  We modified the panel system developed for Jacob and developed it into a system that can be integrated with technology, seating and tables to create a range of booths for various purposes.   

For the hybrid workplace, Koskela has designed the Jacob phone booth, Jacob Meet 4-and-6-seater and Jacob Collaboration 5-seater. These comfortable and seamlessly functional furniture products can be easily installed in existing floor plans. Like Boobook, they can be integrated with power and data, plus an optional AV package is available that is optimised for virtual meetings.  

To prioritise focus and decision making for  teams who need to dial in people remotely, Jacob is the perfect solution. These booths have been specifically designed by the Koskela design team to minimise sound transmission. Depending on the product type, independent acoustic testing showed that sound transmission is halved  (or 8.0-9.9 dBA). Teams can comfortably collaborate without disturbing others in the office.  

Take a closer look at the Jacob booths

 

Jacob phone booth

Jacob phone booth

Jacob's AV integration

The hybrid workplace: now and in the future 

The hybrid workplace is still very much a new way of working. And while it is predicted to become the norm in many sectors, the pandemic has taught us to expect the unexpected. That is why Koskela has designed our WorkHub™ collection to adapt to change. The products are modular, meaning if circumstances shift and new layouts are required, a facilities team can reconfigure them to suit. All components have been designed to be repairable or replaceable. A major innovation from Koskela’s industrial design team is removable covers for the Jacob booth; having them regularly dry-cleaned will keep this upholstered product looking like new.  

The products are modular, meaning if circumstances change and new layouts are required, a facilities team can reconfigure them to suit.

So, while products in the WorkHub™ collection can be made and delivered in eight weeks to transition offices for the hybrid workplace now, they will remain a functional collaboration tool long into the future. 

With 21-years in the industry, Koskela understands workplace furniture and design. Chat to us about solutions tailored to your needs.

  

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