How to design a hybrid work office

There’s little doubt that the hybrid work model is here to stay. With Zippia reporting that 74% of U.S. companies are using or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model1, the question changes from whether to adopt flexible work to how to do so effectively.
The heart of hybrid working is your office. It’s where employees connect, collaborate, and learn – both in person and virtually. Your configuration and equipment choices can make hybrid meetings both easy and highly productive by ensuring everyone in the room and those joining by video conference are fully engaged and work together naturally to keep business running smoothly. Finding the right setup for your office takes careful planning, whether you are opening a new location or reconfiguring an existing space.

Here are six steps to create an office designed for hybrid work

1. Understand your employee workstyles

It’s essential to understand your employee workstyles. Everyone works a little differently, based on their role and preferences. For example, a salesperson might spend most of their time on the road, a product marketer might hurry from meeting to meeting, a graphic designer might dedicate their workday to their desk, and a technical writer might spend half the day at their cubicle and the other half in a quiet huddle room. 


Understanding these patterns will also help you establish some preliminary equipment requirements for individual employees or trends across job roles. For example: Which employees have special technical requirements, such as much more powerful computers for graphics-intensive and engineering roles? Which employees need to take meetings from their desk to join sessions run by their clients or colleagues in other regions?

2. Examine how your group meeting spaces are used

Group meeting spaces can be the most in-demand real estate in your office – even if they aren’t always used for group activities. First, look at how your meeting spaces are being used. Can they easily be reserved for video conferences or are they being used by individuals looking for a quiet place to work? Next, consider how often they are used. For example, are your small meeting rooms overbooked while large conference rooms sit empty most of the time? Finally, think about the spaces you may be missing. Do people hold impromptu meetings at their cubicles (that exclude remote co-workers) because there aren’t enough focus spaces for them to step into? 


These considerations will help you determine the mix of spaces that you need to enable employees to be most effective. Remember that in a modern office, focus spaces and other casual gathering areas that may have been overlooked in the past have become an important part of your meeting room mix and must accommodate remote workers.

3. Decide whether seating will be assigned or unassigned

A fundamental decision is how workspaces will be allotted among employees. The three basic approaches are: fully assigned, where every employee who comes into the office has a dedicated desk; hoteling, where spaces are unassigned and employees reserve them through an application before they come in; and hot desking, where spaces are unassigned, and employees choose a spot on a first-come, first-served basis as they arrive. 


What you decide depends on several considerations. Are you moving into a smaller office space, or do you need extra space to support a growing workforce? How often are individual workspaces oversubscribed vs. how often do they sit empty? Are employee roles flexible enough that hoteling or hot desking makes more sense than assigned seats? Could space that’s currently dedicated to individual spaces be better used for additional meeting spaces?

4. Re-distribute your office space

This is where everything you’ve learned and decided in the first three steps comes together in your office plan. Use the information you’ve collected to determine how much space you need for individual desks, how much space for meeting rooms and what size those rooms should be, and how to adjust the space you have now to meet these needs.

5. Establish your hybrid work policies

These policies define the parameters of flexible work and are central to understanding how the office will be used, including when and how the number of employees in the office will fluctuate. For example: Does everyone need to be in the office three days a week – and if so, which days? Should each team coordinate a day for all members to be in for in-person collaboration? Are there any events (like all-company meetings) during which the entire workforce will be in the office at the same time?

6. Equip your spaces to enable effective hybrid collaboration

For individual workspaces, whether they are assigned or unassigned, ensure that each space has everything required to be comfortable and customizable for employees. Key elements include a docking station and monitor and a webcam that shows them at their best when they need to join video calls from their desk. For hotel desks, create an ergonomic checklist that reminds employees to adjust the workspace to be comfortable for them before settling into their workday.


In meeting spaces, choose video conferencing and audio solutions that are sized to enable everyone in the room to be clearly seen and heard. The requirements of effective video and audio solutions vary with room size, so it’s important to consider the characteristics of each space and avoid a blanket purchasing approach. For example, in a focus space, a camera with a narrow focus will show the one or two people in the room well, but a large room requires a camera that can clearly show everyone whether they’re sitting up front or in a back corner.

The future of your business is riding on the office you’re designing now. Following these six steps can help you create the spaces that enable your employees to be effective in the flexible working environment you have today and as it evolves.