Derived from Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a psychology theory comprising a five-tier model of human need.

Learn how to strategically and safely return to the workplace with our Workplace Re-Entry Program!

From the bottom of the hierarchy up, those needs include physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. As companies continue moving to a hybrid work model, leaders must consider the cognitive, emotional, and physical elements – all of which are represented in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

As we plan to return to work, we need to make choices carefully and responsibly. As organizations plan for hybrid work, it’s important to take Maslow’s psychological and scientific principles into consideration in meeting your employees’ needs.

What's Working Now workplace blog

Organizations and designers need to be intentional about creating a complete and holistic experience to make the workplace worthwhile for people. Just as Maslow’s Hierarchy recognized people’s need for self-actualization, in the workplace that connects people to their place, to a group, team or their organization. People need to participate in activities that align their values with others’. Engaging in collective rituals like volunteer projects, cultural celebrations, and personal milestones brings meaning to work.

Not All Hybrid Workers Are the Same

Hybrid workers are not all the same and the different roles they fill require different types of spaces. Steelcase researchers found hybrid workers fell into three distinct categories who, based on the demands of their role, need to use the workplace differently. Creating the right spaces for the right experiences means understanding that hybrid employees have a greater variety of needs.

Anchored Worker

Their role requires them to have a personal, assigned workspace which is tied to a specific workplace process. Because they work primarily at their desk, this worker values having a place to store belongings but needs acoustical and visual privacy. This role can also be helped by having places to ‘get away’ for privacy without leaving the office.

Untethered Worker

The untethered worker doesn’t have a dedicated workspace, but their role requires them to be in the office for a set amount of time per week. This person could work in unassigned team spaces or find themselves in shared social settings, which invite interruption but promote engagement. They need flexible environments to support their varying work modes and to allow them to go from social settings to more private focused areas.

Destination Worker

This person’s role gives them flexibility about when, where and how they work. They typically come to the office to participate in collaborative work such as meetings, complex problem-solving, or mentorship. They gravitate toward collaborative spaces that can be arranged in a variety of ways to be more visible or have greater privacy. They also need a range of diverse spaces where they can do individual work, which allows them to continue their workday at the office and stay productive.

Next steps

To solve for the new needs of hybrid workers (whether it’s anchored, untethered or destination workers), organizations need to rethink the role of the office. A new source of inspiration for the workplace based on the changing needs of organizations and people is a great neighborhood – vibrant and active communities where people come together.

Neighborhoods at work, like the ones people live in, provide a home base for people and teams, or departments. They include a variety of interconnected spaces that support different types of work, a mixture of uses and the natural flow from one to another. They include individual assigned spaces or shared areas for the team, collaboration spaces for in-person and virtual interactions, places with privacy for focused heads-down work, and areas to gather, socialize and learn with teammates.

Workplace Re-Entry Program by Red Thread