Meet The Winners: Elements Hello Hybrid

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Chair of the Month

Emma Weckerling
Emma Weckerling
Emma is the Former Managing Editor of Work Design Magazine.

Meet the Elements team: honorable mention in the Change Management category.

Traci Lounsbury, CEO and Owner at elements

Denny Sponsel, CEO and Owner at RJE Business Interiors

Sam Julka, President and Founder at DORIS

Megan Tooman, VP of Operation at DORIS 

Megan Little, Design Research Lead at elements

Lian Ottinger, Marketing Strategist at DORIS 

Check out their submission:

This is an actual project for a client.

The pandemic changed how many of us view work and the workplace on a scale the world has never seen. In the midst of a massive work-from-home experiment, countless organizations began to reexamine the pros and cons of a physical work environment. Do we stay fully remote or come back to the office five days per week? What happens with our real estate? What will this do to our culture? Leaders were trying to make hugely impactful decisions about their people and real estate without the proper tools and research in place – because they simply didn’t exist yet – and word of the “hybrid” work model was just starting to emerge.

In the fall of 2020, we partnered with a human-centered design research organization to fill that information void, collecting statistically significant data from companies in five key research areas: Creativity, Innovation, Strategy, Collaboration and Productivity. Space inherently supports all five areas, but in different ways at home versus in the office. Organizations would need to apply differing levels of effort to the five areas based on where the employees will be working, and a hybrid work model was the most beneficial going forward. This model allows organizations to maximize innovation, collaboration and individual productivity. Though there are many benefits, there can be pitfalls if not planned for correctly.

The findings from this research were synthesized and packaged into a report, Hello Hybrid, to help guide organizations in the new office frontier.

Key questions included:

What are the benefits of hybrid?

  • Everyone feels supported through the ‘flexible’ work environment
  • Preserves fundamental culture
  • Maintains productivity when people choose to work from home
  • Less time commuting + flexibility supports the environment and families (with women in the workforce being the primary beneficiary)

What are the challenges?

  • More effort is needed to schedule time for collaboration
  • Creativity and innovation require extra time and intentionality
  • Structures, policies, and expectations need to be in place so everyone understands how the Foundational factors and Generators can best be supported
  • Hybrid approaches will ultimately fail without trust and accountability

We knew that if we were asking these questions, so were other organizations. From there, the idea of a Playbook was born. The Playbook would become a physical 123-page tool loaded with exercises to unite leadership teams and help organizations navigate the future of the “hybrid” workplace.

The Playbook covers the following topics:

  • Let’s Talk Trust: Laying the Foundation for Success
  • When, Who, Where -Collaboration & Availability
  • Training (Onboarding, Growth & Development, Technology)
  • The Safety of the Physical Workplace -A/V Decisions
  • Offices Resources
  • At-Home Setup
  • Next Steps & Implementation

Other tools developed to promote and navigate the playbook included workshops, a website with e-commerce, marketing campaign and peer groups. The result of this research and the tools developed helped our company establish the following:

  • Core hours with flexibility to allow for easier life management and scheduled times for deep work
  • Enhanced collaboration, strategy, creativity and innovation as business drivers
  • A proven model that will attract and retain talent

Click on an image to see it full size.

To celebrate their win, we connected with the team to see how their idea evolved since it was submitted.

  • Brand enhancement for each company has skyrocketed due to the connection of the workforce and the workplace
  • We have facilitated several workshops to help organizations get hybrid decisions right as they come back to the workplace
  • Hired a video production company to prepare a quality, professional video to support a national reach. Completion date will be end of September 2021
  • Since the book was well received in local markets, we are pursuing a release on the Amazon Best Sellers List
  • By request, we are creating a digital downloadable tool that can be divided into subsections allowing clients to purchase the chapters of most interest

Comments from the Jury:

I think this is cool. And I could see some smaller companies, thinking, this was a very valuable way to onboard.

I like the concept of creating a clear change management program for hybrid work because I actually think it’s a huge gap with what we have today.

🏆 Did this submission earn your vote? Vote for the People’s Choice award here! 🏆

Voting ends September 24th – one vote per person. 

A special thank you to our sponsors: 


Thank you to our 2021 Market Partners: Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) • Allwork.Space • IFMA Foundation • ACT • IIDA

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