Does Hybrid Working Persist in a Recession?

Sep 30, 2022

Threats of a recession have loomed large for the last two years, and it’s starting to seem inevitable that the UK will enter into a period of economic downturn.

This poses some interesting questions – how does this affect hybrid working, the workspace and the recruitment economy?

For a while now, we’ve operated in an employee-favoured market, with the onus on the employer to provide distinct benefits and impress the employee. People now have very high standards when searching for employment, with 88% of jobseekers citing hybrid working as an important factor that impacts what roles they apply for.

However, as times get tough, we may see a shift back to an employer marketplace, meaning that it’s make or break time for hybrid.

So, will it persist through the recession?

Is hybrid working here to stay?

Now, we can’t say for certain, but we’ve been in the workspace design & build industry for decades, meaning that we’ve seen the impact that recessions have on employers across the UK.

This recession is a little different, as it’s the first time that remote working has really taken off as a feasible alternative to heading into the office every day.

Employees have had a taste and will be extremely reluctant to let this go. As a result, we believe that it’s highly unlikely that offices full of desks will come back. We’ve seen a distinct shift towards the office of people as opposed to the office of things – your employees no longer need to come in to efficiently complete their role, meaning that the office needs to serve a different purpose than before collaboration.

The function of the office has changed. It needs to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, bolster team morale and keep your culture alive. As a result, you need a workspace that allows this to happen naturally; a space that your employees actually want to work in, not one that they’re forced to be in.

As a result, it’s highly unlikely that hybrid working will be going anywhere. What we’re more likely to see is a split more heavily weighted in favour of the office, with 1-2 days at home becoming norm for many organisations.

What impact will the recession have on the workspace?

As mentioned, we do expect to see a significant shift in the dynamic of the workspace. You need your offices to become significantly more efficient, both to benefit your employees and to positively impact your bottom line.

Every penny counts during a recession, meaning that taking the time to streamline your workspace is essential.

How to make your workspace as efficient as possible

In order to boost efficiency, we recommend conducting a people and place study. It’s almost impossible to make positive changes without gathering data on how your employees are already using your space.

You need to establish:

How are people using specific rooms/spaces
You may have communal spaces that are overused and need expanding, or you may have areas you think are performing well, but in actuality are rarely visited.
Do your employees feel productive at work?
Having an honest conversation with your employees will often prove incredibly enlightening. It’s essential that you gather broad and varied opinions about your workspace.
Do your employees have everything they need to thrive?
Sometimes, people are reluctant to come into the office because they feel they work significantly better at home. It’s important to assess why this is, and ensure your office provides a similar environment for these people.

By gathering evidence and rationalising your building, you can make it work smarter, helping you to bring overheads down, bolster employee wellbeing and improve performance across the board.

This is the difference between businesses that thrive in a recession and businesses that fail.

Proactivity is key when looking to give your organisation the best possible chance of success during the coming hard times. Here’s a real-world example of how this might work:

The Rhino team have been brought in to assist a provincial legal firm that’s coming to the end of a 10-year lease on two buildings.

The firm doesn’t fully understand the dynamic of their buildings. They know that things aren’t working especially well, but aren’t sure exactly how to rectify issues that have existed for a long time.

Our consultants are conducting a people and place study to help determine what size of building they should consider moving to, and what a new workspace could do to help them flourish in the coming years.

As a result of this, the firm can enter their search armed with all the data that they need to make an informed decision, choosing the right building, and knowing exactly what to do with it.

Become a leaner, more efficient business

No matter whether we’re in a recession or not, building a more efficient business machine with minimal waste will always be positive for your business.

Everyone seems to agree that we’ll see some activity from home, so it’s important that you accommodate seamless hybrid working, too.

If you’re considering an office fit out or refurbishment, or are planning an entirely new office design & build, it’s critical that you have workspace usage data to back up any design decisions.

Trust our team at Rhino to support. We specialise in tailored office design & build, fit out & refurbishment, and industrial projects. Our clients rely on our over 45 years’ experience to outline exactly where improvements can be made, and to expertly implement unique, modern workspaces.

If you’ve any questions, or would like tailored advice regarding your working environment, get in touch with our team today.

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