Hybrid. Work from Home. In Office. COVID-19. Epidemic. Pandemic. Endemic. Fully Vaccinated. Booster. Delta Variant. And now the Omicrom Variant.
The year 2022 is nearing, and these words have dominated our discussion, lifestyle, and firms since early 2020. As we live in a steady state of safety, how are we connecting as a workplace? Life continues. Work moves forward. Design continues. Our community and the built environment need our attention. People require structure—both physically with our buildings and mentally as we seek to adjust to what seems as a new normal. These are just a few takeaways from the recent AIA Colorado webinar with Evelyn Lee, FAIA, “Building and Running a Successful Hybrid Practice.”
“Firms need to reflect, rethink, and revise.”Evelyn lee, faia
Lee is a nationwide thought leader and shared her insights into how your firm can overcome and work in a hybrid scenario. She is the first Senior Experience Designer at Slack Technologies, Founder of the Practice of Architecture, and Co-Host on the Podcast, “Practice Disrupted.” She received the 2014 AIA National Young Architects Award and currently serves as Treasurer on the AIA National Board. Following are takeaways from Lee’s presentation on successful hybrid firms.
A hybrid practice is a resilient practice. Aim to build a more agile and adaptable environment. As Lee said, “Firms need to reflect, rethink, and revise.” She framed these concepts in six different areas: 1) culture, 2) people and policies, 3) team management and productivity, 4) security and support, 5) tools, and 6) the hybrid employee.
- Culture. Cultivate a workplace that is values-based in which every decision is rooted in this culture. Flex your behavior and response to address how values may manifest in different ways. Revisit your firm’s “why.” Conduct an annual employee survey. How many employees would recommend your firm to others? Remember, culture is the sole differentiator for your firm.
- People and Policies. Empower your employees with a shared definition of trust that enables their best work. She indicates that 95 percent of workers considering changing jobs in what is called, “The Great Resignation,” and 92 percent of workers are considering changing industries. Lee recommends building a framework that supports each employee’s career. Transform hiring outcomes to yield first-day productivity and continue onboarding for an entire year.
- Team Management and Productivity. Stand up a digital headquarters that is relevant and essential. The digital HQ centralizes information and efforts. Ensure your firm distributes decisions made in-person onto the digital HQ platform. Too, adjust the firm’s mindset to that of remote even if just one person is working from home. Create time for deep work without distractions and brain-write for innovation / creativity. Establish balance with a burst of activity and slower simmer modes.
- Security and Support. Build a virtual cloud of data warehousing that enables anywhere access for employees. Invest financial and personnel resources toward information technology in order to provide timely and effective data management.
- Tools. Ideally, software or hardware tools create an ease of operation and design. But first, know the capabilities of these tools and what your firm needs these tool’s functions to perform. Understand who requires what tools to assist your team and client. Know each category of tools and how to operationalize these IT assets to enhance workflow and communications procedures.
- The Hybrid Employee. Work From Home (WFH) does not mean anything goes. Set work boundaries and routines. Optimize your workspace to fit your work needs. Over communicate with your team. Be a thoughtful teammate and take care of yourself. Back-to-back virtual meetings can be detrimental; manage your calendar well to manage yourself even better.
Lee concluded her presentation with a few overall tips: Your firm’s people are your greatest assets. Manage expectations and learn. Be patient and trust the process.
AIA Colorado seeks to foster your firm’s best path forward during this challenging time. We are providing innovative speakers and solutions that will enable your firm and employees to be successful for your clients, community, and company. To learn more about hybrid working hybrid, you can view Lee’s full presentation on YouTube. Let’s collaborate and learn together as we stay safe.