Etienne Licari shares the employer’s perspective for effective implementation
Hybrid work has become an important consideration for most companies with offices in Malta, and those who are serious about the future of work within their organisation – all the while balancing safety, well-being and productivity of their teams.
Close observation of this model has shed light on – and challenged – many of the global corporate practices that have been in place for decades; highlighting that it was time for a change.
Hybrid working is enabling employers to strike a balance by giving flexibility to employees and their teams. Effectively, this is achieved by offering a supportive workplace to those who feel they are more productive at the office and by giving an opportunity to those who need, or feel more comfortable working remotely.
Through the hybrid model, employees are being given the choice without having to commit particularly to doing more of one or the other.
Now that the hybrid work model has been tested and is being used to navigate unchartered territory, some practices by innovators in this field may provide some insights so others may rewire their own company work model and progress to a successful shift into hybrid work.
Planning for effective Hybrid Work implementation
Going hybrid? Go for it! But start by planning effectively first.
Lack of planning in the implementation of a hybrid work policy may put considerable strain on an organisation when implementing this model, making this one of the initial steps to be undertaken for an effective transition.
A plan will include provisions that cater for three main components:
- The Hybrid Work Policy
- The Offices or workplace
- Technologies to facilitate the hybrid environment
Framework for the Hybrid Work Policy
It is the team members themselves who are to be placed at the core of such a plan. Questions about their specific situations need to be addressed in an inclusive manner that caters for all of them.
Such questions may include: “Who will be able to work remotely?” and “who will need to be at the office?”; “how frequently may they work remotely or be required at the offices”?
These questions will reveal vital information to lay the groundwork for the hybrid work policy. Policies may be adjusted as one goes along, by maintaining a feedback loop between leaders and their teams, as they experiment and learn what works and what doesn’t.
Determining how much a team will lean into the on-site (office) or off-site (remote) aspects of the hybrid work environment will depend on the findings that will be revealed in the evaluation and planning stages. Adapting to the constantly changing environment will be challenging. Keeping productivity, safety, and well-being at the forefront is not a textbook pattern that may be followed to the letter. It will require a level of situational awareness and leadership effectiveness that may put the best leaders to the test.
Office Space within a Hybrid Environment
There are various elements that will determine how relevant an office space will be to each business. Having said that, it has become increasingly clear over the last few periods, that whilst it is going through somewhat of an evolution – and a welcome one at that – the office is here to stay.
Accessibility to the office is a major area of concern for most employees. In fact, companies that are aware of this dynamic – as well as the recruitment benefits that it presents – will only choose the best office locations in Malta for their company. By doing so, they increase the effectiveness of their hybrid work-policy implementation. They also ensure that they have positioned themselves as best they can for attracting new talent to their businesses.
The physical office itself also needs to be attractive enough to entice team members to make the effort to get to the office. This attractiveness may be pronounced by introducing a mix of activity-based spaces. Newly introduced spaces may include quiet spaces for deep and focused work, collaborative spaces for work in teams, sound-proof booths for communications, streaming, etc…
Observations about Hybrid Work and its impact on Office Leases
It is natural that a consideration about the need for Office Space has become a hot topic with varying approaches being undertaken by employers small and large. In fact, we often get contacted by employers and business leaders who have started to evaluate their office space requirements in light of the shift towards the hybrid model.
Companies who rent offices in Malta may approach this in more ways than one. Some companies may attempt to adapt and improve their offices whilst retaining the same amount of space. This may result in more welcoming and improved environments by adding more breakout areas, and through the introduction of multiple work zones in the office space. More often than not, this may be achieved through the repurposing of sections that are reserved for typical ‘desk & chair’ workstations.
Employers who find themselves (as a result of hybrid working) with more office space than they originally needed, may have the option of sub-leasing. In situations where the landlord is fine with this arrangement, it presents a highly favourable situation for the office tenant since they may subsidise their rent and keep renewing the sub-lease until they find a use for the entire office space themselves. This way, they wouldn’t have to go through the entire office search and selection process as it may be an additional strain on the company – one that could easily be avoided.
In cases where the space is just too big and/or the landlord is not fine with the office space being sub-let, and if early termination is feasible, finding an alternative office may be the only solution available. In this situation, employers are best advised to focus their office search criteria on the requirements of their employees and their working preferences.
Technologies that facilitate a Hybrid Model
Moving to a hybrid workplace model will require challenging technological improvements that some organisations may underestimate. For a team that needs to work seamlessly where some employees are together in the same space whereas others may be on the other side of the town (or country), there may be a substantial gap in communication, productivity and engagement tools that presents itself.
Spaces such as meeting rooms may need to be upgraded and equipped in such a way as to ensure that team members – whether or not they are physically in the space – may participate effectively to ensure that all voices are given equal opportunity to make contributions.
Apart from the physical office itself, employers must also consider how to equip their employees with the tools they need to be productive and contribute to the business goals – whatever their role, and wherever they may decide to work from – be it at the offices, working from home, a cafe, serviced office, co-working space, or some boathouse on a beach in Gozo.
The Hybrid Model & Company culture.
Employers are being presented with a much more diverse and expansive talent pool from which to pick employees for their operations. However, by presenting employees with more choice when, where, and how they work, some employers are facing an escalating challenge with hiring and retaining team members.
By having teams that are decentralised within hybrid environments, more efforts need to be undertaken when compared to those in the more traditional ‘work from the office’ approach.
It is evident that building social capital takes effort in any physical environment, yet it is even more challenging and it requires more tact and effort when operating in a hybrid environment.
As humanity is moving further into the digital era, the lines between the analogue and the digital worlds are becoming more intertwined…and less defined.
This is a time to reimagine how we work. This is a time of opportunity. This is a time to act.
In the long term, Hybrid working may well offer some new opportunities in relation to how we balance our work and home life.
Yet whilst some employers have already started to adapt to the hybrid work model – and reap its benefits – others are tip-toeing around cautiously as a result of the unfamiliarity and uncertainty that it may bring about for them. Some even consider it an unsatisfactory compromise.
But as more and more workers are being exposed to this work model opportunity, to stay competitive in the race for top talent, employers must meet the requirements of their team or risk losing their top performers to other employers that do.
Holding over 10-years of experience in Malta’s Commercial Real Estate industry, Etienne Licari is specialised in Premium Offices for Rent in Malta’s Best Locations. Need advice on Office Space in Malta? Reach Etienne on +356 7942 3033.