I'm still a big fan of face-to-face interactions. As a psychologist, there's so much information transferred non-verbally that makes face to face key. But there are going to be some people who are a little bit more wary about coming into the office. And with the hybrid setup, undoubtedly there are going to be people who, rather than be on site, will be Zooming or Teaming into meetings.
Being able to see people is a good start in interpersonal interactions; maybe it's the most basic thing. The days of someone being on the end of the phone in a meeting of 20 people – just a lonely voice that no one listens to – have hopefully gone. That was a terrible waste of time and it just didn't work.
So workplace and facilities managers need to have good tech facilities that support audio and visual meetings. You can then start to judge whether people are engaged or not. Have they got their video on or off? If it’s off, are they just emailing or simply not paying attention.
The design element is probably more about the tech you implement to bring the physical and the virtual together but you could also focus on good meeting etiquette and planning. Make sure the right people are involved, provide a concise agenda, start and finish on time.
Don't have meetings that last an hour. Make them 45 minutes so attendees have 15 minutes to decompress before the next meeting. in the old days, we'd have walked from one meeting room to another meeting room, even to another building. In that time, you were getting fresh air, decompressing, grabbing a coffee, chatting and socialising with people.
Back-to-back Team and Zoom meetings are just adding stress. Some people are literally in back-to-back meetings for the whole of the day, and that's not good for anyone – psychologically or physiologically. Some of this comes down to the way we operationally organise and host meetings but there are little things we can do with tech such as having a booking system that caps meetings at 45 minutes.
Facilities management is about facilitating the building, and it's about facilitating whatever the business needs to be successful. Sometimes that's about organisational aspects and technological aspects – and not boilers, bogs and brushes as we used to say in the old days. it's gone beyond that and it's a much broader remit.
Nigel Oseland is director at Workplace Unlimited
*For more on the hybrid workplace, see the latest edition of Facilitate.