Trends in the hybrid workplace |


November 12th, 2021

The workplace as we know it is transforming. Rows of desks are being replaced with social hubs, breakout zones and mentoring spaces. The 9-5 culture has been disrupted and every business has their own definition of hybrid working.

Offices in central London and across the UK are re-emerging as the home of company culture, collaboration and connection. And a much needed escape from Zoom calls.

Here we look at three trends that are defining the post-pandemic office. 

The hybrid office as a social space

Almost all businesses suffered from a lack of face-to-face collaboration during lockdown. A recent study of 3,000 UK remote workers by learning platform HowNow found that more than two thirds (67%) felt ‘disconnected’ from their colleagues. As organisations welcome their people back to the office, many are addressing this sense of isolation with a fresh approach to the working environment. 

Solitary desk cubicles are making way for communal spaces and breakout areas, fostering creativity, teamwork and camaraderie. The traditional office layout is being shunned in favour of inspiring surroundings, influenced by the hospitality world. Take, for example, Salesforce’s 1,070-foot-high skyscraper office in San Francisco, which has been designed as a ‘community hub’ featuring a ‘flexible events space’ for employees.

The home of mentoring and training

In her book, Future Office, workplace design specialist Nicola Gillen argues that the younger generation have suffered most from remote working. Without face-to-face meetings, she explains, junior staff have missed out on valuable mentoring and career development opportunities.

Now some businesses are making up for lost time with designated office spaces for learning and training. And when it comes to recruitment, organisations that provide these supportive environments are most likely to attract the top talent.  

The place for productive work

In the hybrid world, the office becomes a destination, not an obligation. Teams can choose to use the office’s communal spaces for brainstorms, workshops and key meetings. Just as they can choose the home office for administrative and analytical tasks. As a result, ‘trips’ to the office become more purposeful and enjoyable. 

The ‘destination office’ demands fewer hours from employees. ‘Presenteeism’ – the idea that the more time you spend in the office, the more productive you are – is fast losing popularity. Businesses are moving away from rigid 9-5 office hours to more fluid arrangements. Some cultures favour 10-3, while others give their people the freedom to drop into the office sporadically, for team building or strategy sessions. 

This flexible and more focussed approach doesn’t just benefit working parents, it supports productivity, too. There’s plenty of evidence on the business benefits of short bursts of activity. According to research from RescueTime, most workers average just 2 hours and 48 minutes of productive time per day. Business owners should remember this concept of ‘golden hours’ when choosing their workplaces. If the office can provide spaces for collaboration and quiet work, appealing to introverts and extroverts, it can be a lot more productive than home.

‘How we value offices has changed’

At Workpad, we’re witnessing many of these changes first-hand as our customers reconsider their office hours and opt for more flexible spaces to empower employees. 

As our CEO, Edward Griffin explains: “We’re seeing our clients using 24/7 office access to change working hours around their daily lives, or having team days where they rotate staff.

“The types of office spaces we curate are also changing. Employers understand that brand and culture are imperative not just for the outside world, but to attract and retain talent, fostering collaboration and productivity.

“Employees need access to a space that is fit for purpose. In some cases, this will involve focus areas for periods of high concentration. Whereas other businesses need areas of play and stimulation, environments that can foster the seeds of creativity and deliver a real value-add for staff.

“Ultimately, ‘the office’ has a differing role to play for every business and employee. What’s ubiquitous, however, is that how we value an office has changed. It’s no longer about just desks and chairs, but how we can use spaces to add to our culture, brand and identity – providing employees the environment they need to be empowered and successful.” 

Find your ideal office space with WorkPad 

Is your office an attractive destination for the hybrid world? Do you have the right mix of communal areas and spaces for uninterrupted work? Is your business situated in a prime location? 

If you’re looking for a more suitable space, WorkPad can help. Discover our luxury office spaces across central London, including fully serviced and managed options here.

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