The post-Covid workforce is adaptable after multiple years of moving between the office and the home study (or dining table in many cases). Many companies have retained hybrid working as their preferred strategy as we’ve moved out of the pandemic. Hybrid workers require a hybrid office; in other words an agile office space.
We’ve broken down what an agile office is and what it can look like.
What is an agile workspace?
It can be described as a professional environment designed around hybrid working. Unlike a traditional office - where employees are permanently assigned to desks - an agile workplace encourages team members to ulilise collaboration areas and use - possibly book - desks that are available, making use of whichever space suits their objectives at that time.
There’s a physical aspect to the agile workplace. Agile office design is about providing workers with a variety of useful spaces where they can feel at their most productive. But agile is also a way of getting work done. As a concept, agile working is about choosing where and when you do your best work.
Examples of agile office areas
Office Pods and Quiet Zones
One of the key requirements for offices during and returning from the pandemic was to have suitable isolated areas. These quiet zones allow people privacy for a number of different functions. It’s a place where people can take private calls, take some moments to reduce stress or have a 1-2-1 conversation with a team member. Ultimately, the quiet zones are places to break free of the noise and distraction of the wider office.
The pandemic had a significant impact on open-plan offices. The future of the open-plan office was thrown into dispute.
Breakout spaces are the most informal part of the agile office. They are places where people can mix with colleagues, get something to eat or even play a bit of table tennis for example. As with the two previous areas, however, it’s important that breakout spaces are crafted to as to provide a place for work if needed. For example, if the office is full and multiple teams require a meeting space then a breakout area should be able to host a team meeting.
There is a dedicated area in most offices for printers, scanners, stationary, recycling and other helpful resources. It’s important to avoid these being located in close proximity to desks and other areas where deep work takes place in order to avoid noise pollution and distractions.
Benefits of agile workplaces
It’s all well and good discussing the features of an agile workplace, but what impact do they have on businesses?
To start with, flexible workplaces build trust amongst team members. Employees feel empowered, valued and trusted with the freedom to manage themselves and their manner of working. Similarly, workers have their choice of multiple locations and types of workstations to suit their current activities and preferences.
Agile workspaces promote more honest communication and greater collaboration. This openness can lead to a more integrated culture across departments, in turn enhancing creative problem solving, higher productivity, and greater job satisfaction for employees.
This increase in job satisfaction means longer-term retention, reduced productivity loss, recruiting costs, training costs, administrative costs, revenue losses, quality loss, and other costs for employers. This has a knock on effect in creating a buzz around an organisation and increased referrals for applications and attracting highly qualified staff.
In a market of skills shortages and greater flexibility, staff can be more picky than ever before when it comes deciding what opportunities to pursue. It’s important that employers take this on board and provide flexible workplaces that entice employees and make their office a desirable place to work.
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