Agile working is an increasingly popular concept, aimed at empowering employees and allowing them to work with maximum flexibility. This can mean having less constraints on working hours or style of working to improve morale, productivity and overall work performance.
This lack of boundaries, however, often necessitates some changes to the workplace environment. In this article, we offer seven tips to help you shape your existing space for agile working.
One of the priorities for a workplace built to accommodate agile working should be the availability of private spaces where employees can carry out tasks that require concentration. It is important for office fit out specialists to create these spaces and position them away from common areas.
The lack of privacy is one of the most common complaints employees have in many office buildings. According to research from Gensler, 53 percent of people say that it is hard to focus with the distraction from other people doing things around them. Moreover, the study found that this has led to a six percent decline in workplace performance since 2008.
While privacy can be hindered by pure open plan designs, it is important that agile working environments include some collaborative spaces, where employees can get together in small or large groups to share ideas and work together on different projects. These collaborative spaces should adopt an open plan design where people do not have to knock on doors or move between partitions to get to others.
Working from home and other remote working options have grown in popularity and can offer many benefits. A famous study on Chinese company, Ctrip, found that employees working from home completed 13.5 percent more calls and reported higher job satisfaction.
Meanwhile, a survey of American remote workers found that they feel happier, more productive and more trusted. To benefit from this, however, businesses need to ensure certain measures are in place to facilitate this. This means providing remote access to computer networks and ensuring communication technology is in place.
The best office fit out specialists will be able to help you create 'accidental collisions' between people in the workplace who might not otherwise come into contact. For example, a workplace café may allow people from different departments to share ideas.
"Accidental collisions play a key role in innovation and workplace satisfaction," explains Ed Nolan, in an article written for Work Design Magazine. "While these collisions may be spontaneous, the setting in which they occur is not. Companies can thoughtfully create work settings that drive the unexpected."
In recent times, workplace ‘play areas’ have become fashionable with companies like Google boasting about them. However, while this kind of recreational spaces have a role to play, it is important that businesses also cater to people who need to get away from colleagues and enjoy some 'me time'.
According to various pieces of research compiled by the Harvard Business Review, 15 minutes of undisturbed alone time improves decision-making abilities and helps people become more resistant to their own biases. Did you know 12 minutes of 'daydreaming' leads to a 40 percent improvement to creativity?
One of the challenges presented by agile working, from a pure office design perspective, is dealing with service and resource requirements changing throughout the day. For this reason, organizations, and the office refurbishment companies they work with, need to ensure that office design services are designed with this in mind.
"Flexible spaces mean variable occupancies," says Liza Young, writing for CIBSE Journal. "Building services engineers have to ensure lighting, ventilation, cooling and heating are responsive, with excellent occupant control."
The concept of biophilic design in workspaces is catching on and offering benefits connected to both productivity and well-being. One aspect of biophilic design worth exploring is the provision of outdoor areas for work to take place.
While outdoor spaces may not be possible everywhere, office refurbishment companies are seeing more and more requests for picnic areas or outdoor tables and chairs, so that people can work in natural environments. Advantages of outdoor working include increased access to natural sunlight and improved access to fresh air.
Agile working is a growing trend and it is no surprise that more employers are adopting it as a solution for improving morale, productivity, reducing staff turnover and enhancing overall performance. By following the seven tips above and working with high-quality office fit out specialists, companies can transform their existing office spaces.
Reno is a founder and director of Enigma Visual Solutions, an office branding company in London specializing in commercial interior designers.