The event, hosted by Debbie Francis OBE, launched interesting debates around hybrid working strategies and the impact that this can have on employee engagement, company culture, and workplace design. 

Exploring topics such as learning and development, culture, productivity and engagement, we sought to understand how to implement best practice hybrid working strategies in conjunction with unique business needs.

We were fortunate to be joined by academic and industry experts, with the event split across three core elements.

The first part of the session was led by Dr Matthew Davis, Associate Professor at Leeds University Business School, who presented on his ERSC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded research – The Future of Work and Workplaces.

“Today’s discussion highlighted the importance of a long term hybrid work strategy. Yes, it is necessary to have flex and to adapt as new ways of working evolve, but fundamentally you need to start with a good structure. Our research shows that place is still important and workplaces add value for employees and employers – getting the right “fit” between space and task is key though. When organisations see hybrid working as a shared discussion, and look at possibilities together, they can create robust organisational strategies that balance the needs of colleagues with the needs of the business.” (Dr Matthew Davis – University of Leeds)

We then moved on to a panel discussion, involving:

  • Suzy Wright: BT - Suzy drew from her experience leading BT’s Global Office Strategy and workplace design BT’s Better Workplace Programme to bring a corporate perspective to the discussion.
  • Amy Leech: TP Bennett – Amy brought detailed insight to the discussion based on her experience designing projects alongside a wide range of clients (both in the UK and internationally) and her role as the BCO Next Gen Northern Committee Chair.
  • Joe Bell: Evoke People Development – Joe shared his knowledge of culture and its impact on colleague engagement, with an emphasis on the role of leadership, employee satisfaction, and performance.
  • Katie Winstanley – Morson Group Ltd - Katie outlined how a people focused and data driven HR approach facilitates a hybrid working strategy that supports the culture of the business, balanced with the attraction, engagement and retention of its employees.

Amongst other key topics, the panellists looked at:

  • Learning and development in a hybrid working environment
  • Keeping teams together through ‘Anchor Days’ (and the place of the office for team building, interaction, and culture sharing)
  • Designing offices for inclusivity
  • Looking at office design for the next generation, as well as today’s generation
  • Understanding that solutions are still evolving (and there will be a need to adapt with this)

 “The discussion was extremely insightful. The panellists brought a balanced view to the debate, highlighting how workplace design, HR Policy, and cultural behaviours work together to deliver successful hybrid working strategies. Understanding these different perspectives is critical in developing workplace design solutions that influence productivity and the overall employee experience.”  (Marie Rayner – Group Contracts Manager at The Senator Group)

The event concluded with Dr David Holman discussing his research, based on Designing Workspaces in the Post-Covid Era, and the implications workspace design and task design has on satisfaction, performance, and work life balance.

“Our research ultimately concludes that workplace design is important, particularly the extent to which the design of the workplace – both in the office and at home – provides spaces, equipment and furniture that support tasks requiring concentration and tasks requiring interaction, as well as spaces that aid rest and recovery. Understanding how workplace design integrates with an effective hybrid working strategy enables businesses to achieve their long term goals in relation to colleague satisfaction, performance, and engagement.” (Dr David Holman - Alliance Manchester Business School)

We would like to thank our fantastic presenters Dr Matthew Davis and Dr David Holman, our extremely insightful panel Suzy Wright, Joe Bell, Amy Leech and Katie Winstanley, and of course our wonderful host Debbie Francis.

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