How Hub And Spoke Office Model Can Improve Collaboration and Teamwork
Today I’d like to tell you about how the hub and spoke office model can improve collaboration and teamwork at your company.
More and more of my global clients, including those in the banking, finance, consulting and technology industry have been experimenting with something called the hub and spoke office model. This is where a primary hub office, usually in a large city, is used for in-person team collaboration, meetings and events meanwhile the spokes, usually in smaller towns and suburbs, are satellite offices where employees work a few days per week.
Now why do companies even need offices as more employees move to remote working? Well there are five key reasons; productivity, culture, security, environmental and creativity.
For some employees their productivity has an initial boost when they start working from home for the first time. However home working doesn’t suit all of the people all of the time. According to one study by technology firm Globant almost a half of respondents (49%) said that their work output has actually decreased while working from home. This can be because of distractions in the home environment and difficulty in communicating with colleagues effectively.
Meanwhile an increasing number of human resources managers and c-suite executives are expressing their frustration at building a strong corporate culture remotely. This is particularly the case for the process of onboarding new employees. As Jim Link, chief HR officer at Randstad North America said in an interview with the Society for Human Resource Management, “Remote onboarding requires much more than attending virtual training and sharing a digital copy of the company handbook”.
As humans we often learn by looking over the shoulders of our peers and seeing how they deal with challenges. This is hard to replicate virtually. It’s perhaps not a surprise then a new report by CBRE discovered that 70% of U.S. office workers want to return to the office for three days a week or more.
Then there is the security dimension. Previously when everyone worked from a few large offices these buildings had high levels of cyber and physical security. Now with remote-working the cybersecurity risks, or attack plain as it is sometimes called, have increased. Today a company or government is only as strong as that individual employee who has the password handwritten on a post-it note above their home router!
Of course one of the potential benefits of the hub and spoke office model is environmental as the reduced commuting time has an impact on our greenhouse gas emissions and helps develop a more distributed, resilient approach to work.
However perhaps the biggest reasons that we are seeing companies like JP Morgan, Metro Bank, and Lloyds Banking Group join pioneering tech firms like Google in adopting a hub and spoke office model is that it can improve team collaboration and unlock creativity and innovation.
When clients bring me into keynote at their virtual meetings and conferences or to run creativity workshops I speak about how to improve collaboration and creative teamwork to accelerate innovation and adapt to change. One of the concepts I talk about in my creativity keynote speeches or innovation workshops is the role of the third place.
The Third Place
Teams and individuals will often get some of their best ideas in what we call a ‘third place’, somewhere that isn’t their home but also isn’t their office. For example in Ancient Greece they had Symposiums, places where philosophers, merchants and thinkers would get together to debate and discuss the big ideas of the day. In 18th Century Edinburgh in Scotland the city had lots of private clubs where scientists would meet and collaborate. Meanwhile in Vienna we saw the rise of the coffee shops as the third place, somewhere where creative minds like the psychologist Freud, the artist Klimt and the composer Mahler would go to exchange ideas. More recently we have incubator spaces like the one I recently spoke at in Istanbul which is run by QNB Finanzbank. These physical third places are critical to creativity and innovation and hard to design in the virtual world.
One of my other clients, accountants EY (formerly Ernst & Young), have been pioneers in designing third spaces where their executives and clients meet to collaborate on new ideas and projects. They call them wavespaces and you’ll find them in global cities including Shanghai, Singapore, Rome, Barcelona, Paris, London, New York and San Francisco. And yes, they even have Virtual wavespaces where they are now pioneering virtual and hybrid third places.
So as you begin to think about the role of physical spaces and offices in team collaboration, creativity and innovation consider the power of the ‘third place’. And if you would like me to speak at one of your upcoming in-person or virtual meetings, events or conferences or even run a virtual creativity workshop for your people just get in touch. I’m James Taylor. Thanks for watching.