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Roundtable: Hub and Spoke offices in the Mix

June 2022

There has been so much discussion about the way COVID19 has changed our working lives – both at home and at work.

It would seem we are still in a state of flux that companies, designers and architects are still working through. Amtico and Mix Interiors magazine wanted to capture this post-pandemic thinking and brought together leaders in their fields to discuss the ‘hub and spoke’ model of working which has come to the fore.

We gathered at the Pivot + Mark building in Bristol, the home of AWW, to discuss decentralised working and this is what we discovered and discussed.

Hub and Spoke

It was obvious from the outset of our discussion that many companies are considering whether a large, centrally-located HQ is the way forward. Consideration is being given to forming a central office hub, with smaller ‘spokes’ or satellites for employees.

Of course, when redefining spaces, it’s possible to think creatively. For example, a spoke need not be a conventional office – it could be a small rented space, a work-from-home set-up, or even a library or coffee shop. That’s its inherent flexibility and what appeals to so many.

And the hub is just that – an effective centre of activity or network. It’s redefining the office. We no longer go there to work, but instead are beginning to understand it as a hub for engagement and activity.

Collaboration and culture

Another discussion point revolved around two related aspects of our working lives – collaboration and culture. Some of the participants in the discussion were very enthused by how hub and spoke models can encourage people who live further away into the hub, and also how technology can increase that engagement.

Others were concerned that creating a company culture may be challenging. Michaela Churchill from Claremont suggested that culture “Comes through being part of a team, through feeling invested … that means we make communication a priority”. But not everyone was convinced – Faber Design’s Tony Matters felt that people needed to be together in person to develop a true company culture.

Amtico’s own Oliver Roberts believes that the model is already working – provided collaboration is managed well.

Work/life balance

One theme that was continuous through our time together was the importance of a health work/life balance. Not only were the benefits of shorter commuting time, and the joy of living away from the big cities emphasised, but also the importance of setting boundaries and being able to ’switch off‘ from work. That’s not always easy to do from a home office.

Employees are now demanding these flexible practices, so employers are making changes to accommodate this new way of working. The participants in our round table discussion all saw the benefits, as well as some of the potential pitfalls in the hub and spoke model.

What we learned

It is safe to say that from both a sustainability and recruitment point of view, hybrid working, along the lines of the hub and spoke model, is going to be around for much longer than we initially expected in the early days of lockdowns and COVID19.

You can read the full discussion between the experts at the round table in Mix Interiors magazine.

These round table discussions are always incredibly useful. They are a great forum to learn about new ideas and ways of doing things – and that’s especially true for this event. This new hybrid model presents designers, architects and company heads challenges that they’re going to have to wrestle with for some time to come. We are looking forward to continuing the conversations.

Louisa Eyles
Commercial Marketing Manager, Amtico

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