To boost productivity at work, you need to create an environment that fosters dedication and flexibility. Agile design in the workplace has been a go-to solution for several years now, as it provides more comfort for employees. And comfortable employees are happy employees. Happy employees are productive employees. You get the pattern.
Staff that actually like their working environment are more likely to be productive and less likely to seek out opportunities elsewhere. From productivity to comfort and reduced employee turnover, it’s no wonder why the agile workplace has become so popular.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss how to create an agile workplace, as well as the benefits and challenges. If you’re a manager or work in HR, you might find that the agile design works perfectly for your staff.
What is an agile workplace?
If you’ve seen images of the offices at tech giants like Google, Amazon or Apple, these are all agile workplaces. They’re designed to allow staff to choose how, where and when to work – offering maximum flexibility and massive opportunity for growth and productivity.
The office – and home office – has everything staff need to get the job done to encourage high-quality work and more of it. It just so happens that agile workplaces also look pretty cool.
Rather than everyone heading to the office 9-5, those benefitting from an agile work environment can choose their own flexible schedule and decide whether they’ll work in the office or remotely.
Why is agile working becoming so popular?
It’s no secret that when staff feel appreciated, are offered autonomy and have the opportunity to create their own work-life balance, they’ll be more productive and loyal to the company. And this ties in nicely with most businesses’ end goals to grow and prosper.
Corporate businesses that have taken on an agile approach to the work environment have found a huge improvement for staff retention and higher collaboration and creativity.
But that’s not all. By allowing staff to work how and where they want, agile working can help businesses reduce lease rates and office maintenance costs. The flexibility of the workplace can often help companies with their aim to reduce their environmental impact as there is likely less space used and less heating or lighting used each day.
Characteristics of an agile work environment
To promote full flexibility, staff most often don’t have a desk assigned specifically to them. They’ll use hot desks when in the office or sit in specific clusters with their department. There’s often a variety of different seating types in the office, too, so that staff have the option of finding a comfortable workstation that’s best suited to them.
For example, casual meeting spaces can be decked out with Source One Consulting office furniture, soft seating or bean bags rather than simply creating a formal conference room. Small meetings and project work can be done at a group table or in a lounge-style setting. When staff need to escape from the casual setting, to really focus, there are quiet spaces, iso-stations and designated meeting rooms.
And, if you’re conscious about how your desk job impacts your health and form, you can even enjoy the benefits of a standing workstation.
What are the benefits?
There are several benefits to working in an agile format – some of which we’ve already touched on.
For the staff themselves, agile working cultivates higher job satisfaction. Employees benefit from freedom and feel empowered to manage their own work. Without the need for micromanaging, staff feel valued and trusted by their managers, which in turn promotes a willingness to work hard.
While a typical workplace creates silos between departments, staff are free to get up and work elsewhere. This ultimately makes collaborating with other sectors much easier, which can often lead to better results.
Of course, there are plenty of benefits for managers and business owners too. To start, agile workplaces can reduce financial stress. Flexible working environments require much less space than the typical office, meaning you’ll be saving on rent and maintenance. Businesses also save a lot of money on recruitment as staff who are happier are more likely to stay.
With improved productivity and less recruitment and training needed, the business can flourish without financial drains.
And, by offering the option of remote working, businesses can recruit the best of the best, no matter where they are based. Thanks to the internet, employees can pretty much work from anywhere, which means even if the top talent is out of the country or miles away from the office, there’s still the opportunity to work together.
What are the challenges?
As with all good things, there are challenges.
The biggest hurdle for an agile workspace conversion is changing the company-wide mindset and getting everyone on board. The agile format can’t really work if only some people are into it. Transforming the culture of a well-established workforce – and their managers – will certainly be difficult.
It’s also worth remembering that there is no one-size-fits-all model. Even within agile workplace design, there will be areas that work for your business and areas that don’t. Bringing staff along for the design journey will help get everyone’s buy-in, as well as help with creating the perfect workplace that suits everyone’s needs and comforts.
How to get started
There are two components in creating an agile workspace: the physical side and the mindset.
To ensure the physical office furniture works, it’s a good idea to discuss ideas with staff – both in groups and one-to-one. The end product should incorporate a variety of workstations, as well as areas for casual conversation and breaks. For those that like to stay focused, there should also be quiet spaces designed for maximum productivity.
The second battle is embracing the right mindset. This shift is unlikely to happen overnight but can be easier for staff to adapt to when the physical office has changed. There’ll still be teething periods where employees will feel the need to be in the office more than before, or some groups that take advantage of the new environment.
To ascertain whether an agile workspace is right for your business, first ask yourself why you think it would work. Then, consider who the switch actually benefits and how you’d go about implementing it. Once your research and discussion have been done, you’ll have a better idea as to whether taking the plunge is right for you.