The Ultimate Guide for Successful Hybrid Teams: How to Manage the Physical Workspace

The Ultimate Guide for Successful Hybrid Teams: How to Manage the Physical Workspace

 Betsy Blog (1)Betsy Scherer

Here at Venture Lane, we believe the future is hybrid. What exactly do we mean by hybrid? Think: a co-located team where some folks are working full-time in an office, some are working from home, and some are mixing it up and alternating between the two. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work forever. Because of this, Venture Lane has created a blog series to help early-stage B2B tech startups navigate the hybrid terrain as we figure out the 'new normal' together.

RELATED: Download our COVID-19 Playbook

How to Manage the Physical Workspace... 

The workspace, whether at home or in an office, has changed immensely over the last 6+ months. This post is dedicated to helping teams navigate the ins and outs of the physical workspace in a hybrid world. Together, we'll tackle:

  1. How to prioritize safety in the office...
  2. How to accommodate work-from-home setups for your employees...
  3. How to create a dedicated workspace at home...
  4. How to manage transportation to the office...

What are we waiting for? Let's get started! 

How to prioritize safety in the office...

  • Create a safety document. Whether you manage your own workspace or work out of a co-working space, creating a safety document with your new policies and procedures is key. Your new safety document is meaningless if it is not clearly communicated to your team. Ask yourself, does everyone know what steps will be taken if there's a case of COVID-19 present in the office?
  • If any team member (or someone they are close to!) is feeling ill, they must stay home! At Venture Lane, we prioritize the health of our members by facilitating daily health checks. Before entering the space, members and staff must have their temperature taken with a no-touch thermometer. We also created a health declaration form that members are asked to sign before re-entering the workspace. Will you do the same? Make sure it's in your safety doc.
  • Respect capacity limits for general offices. Most cities, including Boston, are required to operate at reduced capacities until a vaccine is widely available. Because of this, we recommend implementing a staggered approach to the use of space. Depending on how many of your team members are interested in working out of the office, you can implement:
    • Splitting up into groups and having group A come in on certain days of the week and group B and C come in on opposite days.
    • Splitting up by department - i.e. having the product team come in one day and the sales team come in the next and so on.
  • Create a culture where questions and feedback are encouraged. We implemented the Whispli software solution in our space. We are using their Open Line platform as an anonymous way for Venture Lane members to ask COVID-19 related questions, give feedback, and register complaints.
  • Pay attention to the floor plan and spacing. For proper social distancing, ensure there is 6 feet between your employees at any given time. Make sure to take the following areas into account: lounge areas, kitchen and cafes, conference rooms, and desks. Use athletic or painters tape to cordon off certain areas. 
  • Increase the cleaning frequency. If you work in a co-working space like Venture Lane, this will likely be taken care of for you. It's important to wipe down high-touch areas regularly throughout the day and ensure that your cleaning crew is conducting more in-depth cleaning each night.

How to accommodate work-from-home setups for your employees...

  • Offer reimbursements. If possible, provide a stipend for work-from-home employees to purchase office furniture and equipment. Is your startup financially able to take it a step further and offer stipends for fitness, virtual events, and learning?
  • Ensure an ergonomically sound work environment. Both at home and in the office! What is ergonomics? It's the applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. This generally includes chairs, desks, footrests, keyboards, and monitors.
  • If it's in the budget, offer ergonomic 1:1 sessions with specialists. This pairs nicely with the above mentioned work-from-home office reimbursements. For teams working out of co-working spaces like Venture Lane, we tackle many of these ergonomic tasks for you with sit-or-stand desks and adjustable chairs.  

RELATED: How to Prevent 'Us Versus Them' Culture for Hybrid Teams

How to create a dedicated workspace at home...

  • Stress the importance of a dedicated workspace. Working from home can be a challenge and it is most effective when your employees can set aside space in their homes to complete their work. Aim to dedicate a space where only work occurs, enabling them to focus while there and disconnect when they exit.
  • Encourage open and honest conversations with roommates and family. Encourage your team to chat with their roommates and family about how their hybrid setup is working out. What do they need from others? What do others need from them?
  • Encourage leaving their homes for breaks. This may sound simple, but making sure your team leaves their homes once every 24 hours is stellar for mental health. Additionally, it's best that they take time for themselves in the morning instead of immediately starting work after waking up. Look out for our upcoming post dedicated to mental health later in October.
  • Separate the work and life realm as much as possible. One of our members offered a great tip: have specific comfy clothes to work in versus to lounge in. When you're done working for the day, make it a point to change outfits to mentally signal the end of your work day. 

How to manage transportation to the office...

  • For those close to the office, we recommend walking or biking. If walking takes less than 30 minutes, consider this as a viable option. Plus, exercise! 
  • Utilize bike-sharing programs. If your team is using BLUEbikes, encourage them to carry disinfectant wipes in their backpacks to wipe down the handles, seats, and frame before riding.
  • Offer parking discounts. For team members with cars, offer parking benefits (full cost or discounted rates) to ease their transportation into the office.
  • Alter public transit habits. If your team is comfortable with Ubers and/or public transportation, highly encourage them to wear a mask. Best practices for public transportation: try not to touch anything (poles, handles, seats, etc.). When possible, sit rather than stand. Seats typically carry skin microbes, not respiratory microbes. Last but not least, if you encounter a crowded bus/subway, don't ride. Wait for the next one to come along.

Interested in implementing a hybrid team? Learn more about Venture Lane's new membership offering and pricing.