Agile Workplace | Flexible Workforce and Environment
July 21, 2022
We’ve all heard about flexi-time, except if we perhaps spent the last two years under the rock, or if deskbird’s article on flexitime somehow escaped us. Traditional offices with a desk, a semi-comfortable chair, and a lonely plant somewhere in the background, seem to be becoming a thing of the past. A great employee experience has never been more important than today and what we have learned through the pandemic is that agile workspaces are enjoyable. Let’s dive deeper and find out: what is an agile workplace? What are the advantages? What can an agile workplace look like? We will also consider some obstacles that one may encounter on their way to rethinking your office design.
Definition Agile Workspace
The term “agile” has been circulating in the business world since the mid-90’s and has quickly gained significance . It was mostly used to refer to software companies seeking faster ways of developing radical innovation. Since then, the concept of an agile workspace has been gaining momentum as more companies choose to give their employees more freedom in terms of howand wherethey work.
Just to give a tangible example, from 2017 to 2018 the number of square feet of flexible offices in Manhattan alone jumped from 9.4 million square feet to 13.5 million square feet.* But, what does an agile workspace even mean? As mentioned, they can be understood as hostile in relation to traditionally assigned desks or designated cubicles. When choosing how to redesign the office, it is important to take into consideration what kind of activities your company is engaged in and what needs must be met to best perform crucial tasks. Let us take a look at different ways one can transform the working place to maximise comfort andbreathe new life into the working area.
Examples Agile Workspaces
There are just about as many floor plans of agile offices as there are of traditional offices. Ultimately, it will all depend on the size and the shape of the space we want to make more agile, and on your company’s activities. WeWork proposed a dynamic office design that is centred around the collaboration hub which is surrounded by rooms dedicated for meetings, socialising, training and, for work that requires more focus.
While this floor plan may be appropriate for one company, it cannot serve as a model-for-all. Thus, we present to you different ways you can transform your company’s office.
Rather than isolating employees in cubicles, using an open-plan office seems to be the future of office design. Proponents of open-plan offices claim they facilitatecollaboration among co-workers and help build close-knit teams that in turn perform better when complex tasks. Once the interactions between employees grow more amiable, office culture becomes more transparent.
The open-plan type of office minimises secrecy, as the conversations between other co-workers can be easily heard. Additionally, the sense of unity and equity is increased, since everyone, regardless of their experience, time in the company or salary, sits together in the same space. However, an open-plan type of office doesn’t come without any downsides. While supporters of this design highlight its budget friendliness and transparency, one can also find opposing views on this matter. An open-plan office can get rather noisy, as there are conversations happening all around you. Thus, the aforementioned transparency can quickly become constant back noise that distracts the workers rather than eases collaboration.
Moreover, an argument that must be considered during the pandemic is the spread of any illness around the office since everyone is breathing the same air. A Danish study* reported that employees working in an open office are 62% less likely to call in sick than those employed in a more traditional office.
Having considered the downsides of an open office where one’s focus and privacy can be under attack, quiet zones prove themselves to be a potential solution. Besides that, everyone needs a little quite time every now and then. Whether this time is needed to brainstorm in peace, conduct a private phone call, or simply to get away from the hustle and focus it is important for employees to have quiet spaces.
Privacy and concentration in the office can be achieved in different ways and its design depends on the company’s goals. Office pods can successfully block the outside noise and grant your employees all the peace and quiet they need. However, sound-isolating pods may not be within the company’s budget. Don’t worry, deskbird’s desk booking solution is at your disposal. With switching to a hybrid model and effectively planning office days, your company can benefit from freed up office space without having to invest in bigger headquarters. In this manner, empty offices can be used as quiet zones when needed.
The agile office earned its name from its ability to adapt and pivot to the needs of employees. Therefore, the office should have a resource area that is dedicated to storing various resources. By resources we don’t mean only physical files and folders with information about past and running projects, but also tools that a modern team requires.
That includes printers, copiers, paper shredders and recyclingbins. It is important to consider separating this area from the rest of the office by a wall, as those bulky printers and shredders can make a lot of noise and can consequently cause disturbance.
A breakout space is a less formal officearea. It can serve many purposes from being the place where your employees grab a bite to eat, take time off from their screen, enjoy their break with fellow co-workers and perhaps enjoy the view over the city. However, breakout spaces can also be used for more professional needs, such as a literal “break out” session where a couple of workers get together to discuss a subtask after a conference has ended.
When wondering how to design a breakout space and what features to implement, your company should not forget about the importance of staying active during the workday. Shocking statistics introduced by The Independent report that sitting behind a desk during a 9 to 5 job can double the chances of premature death. Thus, incorporating a ping pong or a football table could incentivize your team to take an active break from hours of sitting.
Benefits Agile Working
Businesses used to waste thousands of dollars on unused desk space even before the pandemic. Implementing the hybrid working model where a few days a week are dedicated to working from home, it would be a shame for those lonely desks to collect dust. Thus, transitioning to an agile workspace that allows hot-desking will put the practice of having different people using desks at different times in motion
Forget about investing heavily in large floor space, supplies, and equipment that isn’t used often . The bottom line is, why spend money on under-utilised space and pay a higher rent than needed, when this money can be spent so much wiser elsewhere.
When employees have the freedom to choose between various office spaces where they want to get their work done, their productivity will skyrocket.
Employees will find it easier to collaborate with their team members, brainstorm ideas in office spaces dedicated for this very purpose, take the needed time off, and ultimately their overall work satisfaction will be boosted.
As mentioned, staying seated during the entire duration of our workday can have a negative effect on our overall well-being. Agile workspaces encourage employees to move around the office, finding the corner that best suits their mood and the task they have been assigned. Incentivizing the use of stairs rather than elevators, implementing standing workstations as an alternative to constant seated position, or even bicycle stalls and football tables to bring a ludic aspect to the workplace.
Boosting Employees’ Morale
There is nothing like having the freedom to co-create your preferred work setup, surrounding yourself with the co-workers that inspire you and with whom you perform at your best. The office itself promotes innovation. Sometimes just changing our environment from our work desk to the rooftop green area can boost idea flow and in turn boost the confidence of other employees.
Is My Company Ready for an Workspace Makeover?
Now that you’ve heard all about the advantages of transforming your headquarters and are considering implementing these changes, it is important to know whether your business is ready and compatible with an agile setting. The greatest benefit of this environment is the facilitation of collaboration across all departments and among all employees. Thus, if your company focuses on outcome rather than attendance and the service that you provide requires a great deal of teamwork, then this environment might just be the perfect option for you.
Before jumping on the agile workspace train, your firm must make sure it has the right technology, people, and resources at its disposal. Vodafone, one of the bigger firms to opt for such a workspace, has come up with a pre-implementation checklist:
1. Equip Your Employees
Hot Desking or having a hybrid model can seem daunting to your employees at the beginning. However, having up-to-date technology that will allow them to face their and customer needs will help reassure them. For example, having a strong cloud-based system will enable flawless communication among co-workers even when they are not all at the office.
Given that you don’t need all employees at the workplace at any given time, a reservation-based office management system must be put in place. Not to blow our own horn, but that is exactly where the deskbird app steps in. Our desk sharing app allows your employees to book office space independently. Having your office desks occupied will give your company an image of consistency and professionalism, while also satisfying the employees who scheduled their time in the office according to their wants and needs.
Rather than having piles of papers that give the illusion of being cramped up in a small space or if your agile office tends to be smaller in size, opt for digitalization of your documents. It is crucial to maximise offsite storage and implement digital document management. It is not enough to have all the documents you need, you also need to be able to use them efficiently. An example of a useful digital feature is version control: it enables you to keep track of how the document has been changed over time and facilitates going back to a prior version in case of an error.
* Pejtersen, J. H., Feveile, H., Christensen, K. B., & Burr, H. (2011). Sickness absence associated with shared and open-plan offices—a national cross sectional questionnaire survey. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health