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The Hybrid Office: More Than Open Space

Penny Craswell
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Offering spaces for a variety of work activities, the hybrid office solves many of the problems that have plagued open plan workplaces.

The open-plan scheme from the 2000s, with rows upon rows of workstations and never enough social and meeting spaces, is officially, according to Gensler’s research, being transformed into a new trend: the hybrid office.

“It’s not going too far out on a limb to say these findings put us at the beginning of a new era in workplace strategy and design,” Diane Hoskins, executive director at Gensler, wrote in an article in 2012.

Check out Gensler’s 2016 workplace survey.

Open plans have created environments where employees fight against surrounding noises—phone calls, discussions—in order to concentrate. It’s led to a separation and a more individual way of working, with neighboring colleagues emailing one another instead of talking voice to voice. Little boxes that act as meeting spaces aren’t necessarily inviting, so creative collaboration has been cut down.

The open-office layout “is destroying the workplace,” declares a 2015 Washington Post headline, which labels the setup “oppressive.”

The Solution: Go Hybrid

The solution is a new kind of workplaces that offers a mix—open plan, quiet spaces, social spaces, meeting spaces and more. This is the hybrid office. When global architecture firm Woods Bagot recently designed a new workplace for Challenger in the center of Sydney, they dedicated 60% of the space to quiet and collaborative zones, with only 40% of the space taken up with workstations.

“It is crucial to establish the correct mix during the briefing phase to understand how the business can reach its strategies,” says Todd Hammond from Woods Bagot’s Sydney office told ArchiExpo. “The mix is determined by the type of work being done and how it should be done in the future. If the quantities of alternative or support work settings are not correct, then the workplace and culture can suffer.”

Courtesy of Steelcase
Courtesy of Steelcase

Woods Bagot National Australia Bank NAB © Shannon McGrath

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