A new IDC InfoBrief defines the six building blocks you need to create best-in-class workspaces for hybrid working. One of them is to create a specific workplace purpose.

For hundreds of years people have travelled from home to work. In one spectacular example from the Renaissance, the Medici family commissioned a building to house the ‘Uffizi’, the city of Florence’s administrative and legal offices, which is now one of the world’s great art galleries. Most of us continued to go to the office every day because that’s just what we did.

Prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, today there is a mounting emphasis on flexibility and plenty of debate about whether we should gather in the same space every day. There is also general agreement that for some things, the office is irreplaceable. After all, humans are social animals and when we meet in the same space, brilliant things can happen. However, we are also realising that purpose matters. If our goal is to collaborate, brainstorm, meet, sell, train, and onboard, among other activities, then the office is necessary.

It is important that the modern workplace is fit for purpose. For tasks that demand studious concentration, some people claim to work more effectively at home. However, it’s wrong to assume that everyone is more focused within their own four walls. Some people lack space, contend with noise, live in a shared house or have family commitments that interrupt their working hours. The calm, facilities and support of a well-designed office and culture can become an oasis of productivity.

At its core, the office is about people, humanizing work and maintaining the value of social capital. It can prompt the magic of serendipity, when a chance conversation in the communal kitchen unlocks the problem you’ve been grappling with all week. Spending time face-to-face with your colleagues can boost innovation, corporate culture and relationships. As Jeremy Bernard, CEO, North America at essensys, says, the office is an integral place for the three Cs: culture, collaboration and cooler talk.

If we accept that hybrid work calls for specific workplace purpose as unveiled from in-depth interviews with flexible office operators and occupiers in IDC’s recent Infobrief, it follows that employees need space and digital services tailored to the tasks they have at hand. This purpose-driven approach is a key element of a best-in-class workspace, as is the ability to flexibly adapt spaces and services according to evolving business demands. This means measuring, predicting and optimising how buildings and spaces are used.

Technology is a key enabler here, engaging and guiding users through the different areas of the workplace. Space providers and end-user companies have the need to set up specific zones for different activities, with the appropriate physical structure, facilities and digital services at their fingertips. They need to unlock the ability for their employees to book workspaces according to their needs and enable environments to switch easily from quiet space to conference room, from training venue to project base. The holy grail of hybrid working depends on clear objectives, flexibility and intelligent technology.

Achieving these is no easy feat. The same solutions for solving these complex problems can often lead to an additional set of complexities. Initiatives to deploy the systems, networks and technologies needed to deliver digitally enabled buildings and spaces for purposeful hybrid working can snowball into extensive on-site equipment, time consuming set up and maintenance and skilled technical teams to oversee requirements and changes. They can also easily lead to security vulnerability by opening more attack surfaces with more devices and networks in the portfolio.

To overcome these challenges doesn’t just require technology, but the right technology that can provide intelligent network automation for greater connectivity, control and the creation of seamless best-in-class workspace experiences for their customers.

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