How can I reshape my office space for the return to work? | Oktra
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  • Reshaping the Office for the Return to Work

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  • With businesses preparing for the return to work, we asked Oktra’s Design Director David Bishop, Pre-Contracts Manager Sarah Edwards, and Computacenter’s Workplace solution Leader Adam Kelly to give their insights into how the workplace is changing.

    In the latest video of our Future Office Series, our experts outline the working models of the future, describe the features of a successful workplace, answer some commonly held misconceptions, and even offer a timeline to help businesses navigate the future of work. Read on to learn more about the change and choices businesses are facing, or watch the LinkedIn Live video below.

  • What are the working models of the future?

    As our working culture shifts, so will the working models we implement across our workforces. With well-known companies like Google, Microsoft and Dropbox all embracing flexible ways of working for their teams, we anticipate that these emerging models are set to reshape the traditional 9 to 5. There are three core models defining work post-pandemic: the hybrid model, the hub and spoke model and the distributed model.

    The three workplace working models of the future

  • Hybrid working model

    While flexible working usually refers to an individual employee’s freedom to choose a balance between home working and working from a core workspace, the hybrid working model implements this idea across an entire business, with teams working part of the week from the office, and partially remotely.

    This ensures that all employees still feel a connection to the central office, which will remain a hub of company culture, while also being permitted the freedom to work remotely, and allows employers to rethink and reimagine their office space requirements.

  • Hub and spoke model

    The hub and spoke model allows a business’s employees to work from a central hub office, as well as other localised workspaces, whether regional offices, coworking or serviced office spaces, or home offices. While important company events will continue to be held at the hub office, for the most part employees work in spaces local to them.

    This model provides greater employee choice, but still ensures that there is a central space where teams can connect with their company culture, and is a popular choice with the financial sector and nationwide companies.

  • Distributed model 

    The distributed working model takes the idea of remote working at the individual level and applies it across a whole business, meaning all employees work from a range of environments including home offices and coworking spaces, without a core office space. It’s been suggested that in the future employees might even be offered memberships to coworking spaces as part of their work agreements.

    This is a good working model for businesses keen to harness the best of global talent, but means that company culture and collaboration can suffer without core workspace.

  • Defining features of a successful workspace

    Many of the shifts towards different working models and workplace strategies were already taking place before COVID-19 and the rise of remote and flexible working. As we return to work, reading these trends accurately and knowing what’s changing in the workplace is crucial to providing the right environment for your teams. The five main features of a successful workplace are:

  • five features of a successful workspace
  • Health & safety

    Your employees’ primary focus when returning to work will be whether their workspace is safe to return to. COVID-conscious design elements like appropriate wayfinding, furniture solutions, building social distancing into your design, and installing handwashing stations in high traffic areas and touchpoints will help ease any anxieties, and enable your staff to focus on being the best at what they do.


    The workplace of the future will likely be designed to support a hybrid, hub and spoke, or distributed working model, and so will need to facilitate new and different working strategies. Agile working environments and flexible, customisable spaces will help ease employees’ return by providing the freedom of choice that has come to define current ways of working.


    Digital communication technologies have helped us to bridge affinity distance and maintain collaboration even in the most difficult of situations. As we return to our offices, these systems will remain crucial, but we will also begin to use smart building technologies to optimise our spaces, by putting intelligence into how our rooms are heated, ventilated and lit, and linking these operating systems together to continually maximise efficiency and measure how our spaces are used.

    Culture, community, collaboration

    What we miss most about the office is collaboration and our social interactions with each other. With a combination of flexible and remote workers, the central office hub will be essential to cultivating a sense of collective ownership and shared company mission, as well as providing an environment for organic networking, mentoring, and liaising with clients.

    Wellbeing & sustainability

    COVID-19 has brought the importance of our employees’ wellbeing to the fore. In order to support their staff and entice them back to the office, employers will need to bring wellbeing-focused design elements into the office. Sustainable design is a part of this, but is also an ethos that will permeate each part of a successful workplace as the world realises the value of sustainable workplace design and construction.

  • What are the next steps a business should take?

    As workplace strategies and employee needs continue to shift, some of the most useful insights are the next steps you can take as a business towards a new approach to working. Navigate the now, next and future using the following action points.

  • Now

    Start to understand your changing workspace needs using a process like space rationalisation, and the results of employee sentiment surveys. This will help clarify inefficiencies, and establish trust with your teams.

  • Next

    Based on your research, determine the most appropriate working model for your business as you move into the future, and how you can prepare your workplace to support it. Maintain clear channels of communication with your employees, and establish a return to work strategy.

  • Future

    Continue to monitor and calibrate how your workspace supports your staff and their working needs. Updates or adjustments may be necessary as time goes on, so be prepared to allow for flexibility, both in your working model and in your office space requirements.

  • Curious about how to prepare your business for the return to work? Get in touch with our team of workplace advisors to speak more about your next steps.

  • The Age of Agility

    Our free booklet provides an introduction to agile working, its benefits and how to adopt agile practices through office design.

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