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Office design for agile working

It is estimated that the number of home workers has reached over 4 million and the number working flexibly is likely to be significantly more. The average office is typically only 55% utilised and a recent survey on flexible working predicted in 5 years or so, over 60% of employees will base themselves from various semi-permanent locations.

Despite these trends, very few workplaces have changed to cater for agile or flexible working. However embracing this approach not only enhances productivity and communication and if properly implemented it will lower energy expenditure, reduce space requirements and improve the company profitability.

Making a few basic office design alterations can transform it into a flexible workplace:-

Assessing your space

Making any change to your workspace should always begin with a thorough assessment or audit of how your office space presently functions. This provides an important insight into what is already working and what may be required. By doing this you should get a detailed analysis of how the space is being used and the activities being performed in it.

Provide activity based workspaces

Adding environments that are suited to particular tasks and activities – such as acoustic pods & booths, team benches, collaboration areas, touchdown desks, inspirational spaces and meeting areas, will mean staff can select a space most relevant to their needs. This will make the office easily accessible and simple for the roving worker to use while on the move.

Equip agile workers

When designing agile working spaces - one size does not fit all. Provide adaptable equipment and office furniture in any areas where users will vary on daily basis. Ensure that power and internet access are available in any collaborative areas. If agile workers are hot desking or visiting the office regularly, consider providing lockers or hot boxes for equipment and files. This way, desk items are portable and even ad-hoc or shared desks can be temporarily personalized

Make it adaptable

The more flexible a space is, the more often it will be used by an agile workforce. An adaptable space also means that it can double up as an environment fit for more than one purpose. For example a small cluster of comfortable sofas can be an informal meeting area or space for team discussions. Add refreshment facilities and it also becomes a break-out area. Add white boards and you have a vibrant collaboration environment. Flexibility in a workspace opens up the possibilities of what can be achieved within it and reduces space and cost.

Make them feel welcome

When it comes to agile working, one of the main difficulties is the isolation experienced when remote-working staff become removed from the office. A central office environment should be designed to attract remote working staff back to the office by providing suitable and comfortable workspaces that staff actually want to return to.

Posted by Chris Johnson on 20 January 2016