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How IF_DO manages hybrid working for business and people

Words:
Thomas Bryans

Thomas Bryans, director at IF_DO, explains how the London practice benefits from all staff spending three days together in the office and two at home

Hybrid working is the ‘new normal’, and all the practices we know are trialling diverse approaches. We wanted to preserve improvements to productivity and lifestyle benefits discovered during the pandemic, but ensure that quality of design, support for new and younger staff, and studio culture are upheld. All 13 of us are in our London studio from Tuesday to Thursday, with flexibility at both ends of the week.

Disciplined scheduling is key: we are in the office to collaborate. The week hangs around Wednesdays as a time to come together. We have full-team design reviews and the day is pretty sacrosanct, even though that can make finding time for outside meetings trickier.

More pragmatic tasks are assigned to non-studio days. We start the week running through progress of all projects on a digital whiteboard; it’s more efficient online. Directors’ business meetings are held on Zoom. Again, the split is advantageous, as we don’t have space for a private meeting room.

The model has allowed all three directors to relocate; I am in Somerset, Al Scott in Suffolk and Sarah Castle in Manchester. Those moves were for personal reasons, but present opportunities for the practice. We are at equidistant points of a triangle, spread across the country, and are building networks in those regions. The rhythm of the working week supports our expansion and growth, while allowing us to remain a London practice which is at heart a collaborative project; creating things together is more enjoyable and results in better design.

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