The team behind the new Colliers Define platform outlines the transformations taking place in the work environment.
One of the results of the prolonged struggle with the challenges organisations, boards and managers have faced since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, is an ever-changing landscape of work styles and employee needs. A recent study conducted by Colliers Define platform advisors, the results of which are presented in the guide "Hybrid work personas", shows that we are not so much dealing with the emergence of new work styles, which are unique to each organisation. We are experiencing their hybridisation and deepening of the so-called phygital workplace – the extended work environment encompassing physical and digital.
The analysis was based on the results of surveys conducted during the first 18 months of the 2020-2022 pandemic among a sample of 3123 respondents representing organisations with primarily knowledge workers. Then, after completing in-depth quantitative and qualitative research in late 2021 and early 2022 in an anonymous organisation (dubbed "Hybrid Land" for the purposes of the report), stronger signals of change were noticed, which are described more fully in the guide.
“We had a chance to observe the processes related to the introduction of more flexible work styles even before the pandemic, as Colliers has been conducting workplace research on this for years, the results of which are used in the implementation of the flexible working and the design of office spaces adapted to them. With the date we collected, we can observe trends and analyse changes in various industries. Good knowledge of general trends and ongoing research also help us detect the first signals of upcoming changes and trends, such as the hybridisation of work styles,” says Dorota Osiecka, Partner at Colliers and Director of Colliers Define platform.
After the rapid popularisation of remote work and the development of digital tools, many companies have decided to introduce a hybrid work model or are still considering this option. One of the consequences of this decision is the need to modify the space in which we work.
“It’s time for offices to undergo a phase of rearrangement in order to respond to the new needs of employees, such as providing adequate spaces for individual online meetings. It is also important to implement technological infrastructure, applications and programs that allow us to perform our duties, as well as to teach people how to use these solutions and to establish clear rules for cooperation. These are the key elements of building a phygital workplace, which enables a whole spectrum of activities, giving a chance for team integration not only in the office,” explains Mikołaj Tarnawa, Consultant at People & Places Advisory, Colliers Define platform.
Work style, which is actually what?
Work style can be understood as a set of activities that individuals engage in and the time they spend on those activities.
Colliers research has shown that it is possible to identify three main work styles: diverse, focused (requiring concentration) and caller. However, these styles can look different from company to company, as exemplified by the results of the study conducted in the organisation which for the purposes of the report was called Hybrid Land.
Analytical Albert, Collaborative Claire or the Varied Victor?
In order to better understand the new needs of mobile workers and how they use the work environment ecosystem, Colliers experts developed personas (profiles of people who work in similar ways) and gave them names that reflect their character – Analytical Albert, Collaborative Claire and Varied Victor.
“The personas we developed helped us understand what employees do in the office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., as well as outside of those hours, and where specifically they perform each task. We learned, for example, that the persona of people whose work styles fit Analytical Albert's description often leave the office between 1 and 3 p.m. after holding meetings, drive home to avoid standing in rush hour traffic, and complete the rest of their tasks at home. These types of insights, which help us understand user behaviour, are the foundation for human-centred design and the development of tailored solutions, which is very important to us,” says Karolina Dudek, Associate Director at People & Places Advisory, Colliers Define platform.
Analytical Albert, who spends about 50% of his time on individual tasks, works in a focused manner at home, but after coming to the office he becomes the life and soul of the company and primarily spends about 36% of his time meeting with people. For Collaborative Claire, these proportions are reversed – meetings come first (up to 67% of the time in the office), while on average Claire spends about 36% of her workday on individual work. In the case of Varied Victor, none of his daily activities predominates to any significant degree. His workday is filled with a variety of activities: in addition to meetings and individual work, there are also phone calls and working with paper documents.
“It is a description of this particular organisation’s situation, a characterisation of how work is done in a specific environment. In some companies, it will be possible to distinguish only two personas, and in others as many as five. It all depends on the degree of differentiation between individuals and teams, the hybrid work model adopted, industry specifics, and many other factors,” adds Grzegorz Rajca, Senior Associate at People & Places Advisory, Colliers Define platform.
Work styles and the phygital workplace
According to Hybrid Land's work styles analysis, for hybrid work done partly at home and partly in the office, the work styles of most employees also become hybrid: some tasks are done remotely, while others are done in the office. This is followed by different needs regarding the phygital workplace. For those whose work style fits Analytical Albert’s profile, the ability to book desks and conference rooms remotely will be important. The ideal office for Claire, meanwhile, must provide a wide range of meeting spaces – both formal and informal, small and large, adjusted to face-to-face and hybrid meetings. Varied Victor, on the other hand, needs space that suits his various activities – different types of meeting rooms, less formal spaces, open spaces and focus rooms. By identifying the work styles and needs of those working in Hybrid Land, the research team developed tailored design guidelines for the new office.
“Using this methodology makes it easier to prepare guidelines for designing a flexible workplace – the structure of the organisation may change, but the needs of individual work styles will still be met. The last two years have shown us that the solutions used must make it possible to adapt to the unpredictable and changing world. By combining flexibility and customised solutions, it is possible to build a work environment that is ready for the challenges of the future,” concludes Dorota Osiecka.