Employees spend most of their day in the office (unless, of course, they work freelance or allowed to do it some other place), so naturally, they would prefer to be in an area that boosts their performance and not bog it down. Because when the workforce is productive, the company prospers.
The flexible workspace has taken over the popularity of open office spaces—thanks to the prominence of wireless connectivity and mobile computing. It’s now a lot easier to complete tasks on an easy-to-carry laptop with Wi-Fi capability.
This workspace design that has been adopted by large corporations like Facebook, Google, and Apple obviously has importance and benefits to the company and its employees. When an employee isn’t bound to a cubicle and allowed to transfer spaces, sit, stand, roam, or interact with co-workers, they are happier.
A workspace that adapts to the employee’s needs can offer relief—allowing them to take control of how and where they work and even bring the physical comfort.
Adapting a Flexible Workspace
You can transform your traditional office into a flexible one that fosters productivity, focus, and collaboration through a few steps.
1. Analyze your current office
To pull off this transformation, determine if your current space is also open enough to accommodate the changes. There may be spaces that are only meant for traditional or open office layout or some elements might need to be less prioritized if a flexible workspace is to be adapted.
2. List down the workspace issues and possible solutions
Analysis of the place also includes listing down what it lacks, the improvements needed, and what needs to be done to correct these issues.
3. Set a budget
Naturally, office renovation would cost a lot, but it’s essential to have a realistic budget to complete the design (plans and renderings), construction (including project management), and interiors (furniture, fixtures, and equipment).
Fortunately, there are ways for you to cut down costs like repurposing or reusing furniture on-hand.
4. Craft design plan
Planning the design is better left to the experts. Don’t try to do this on your own if no one in the company is knowledgeable about it. Your best bet is hiring a design firm, workplace strategist, or acquiring office fit out services.
When crafting the plan, they are likely to learn about the people they are serving and the functionality that they need.
5. Create a schedule or timeline
Creating a timeline and sticking to it is essential because employees still need to go to work. Understandably, it’s going to be hard for them with all the renovation going on, and this can affect productivity. You want construction to be completed in as little time as possible.
Remote work can be granted, but some tasks cannot be done somewhere else. In addition, it can be hard to keep track of every employee’s whereabouts during work hours.
6. Execute and monitor the changes
The whole point of transforming the office is to make changes that will benefit your company in the long run, so it’s important to note which changes are to be implemented and to check if it’s being done.
You can use tools to ensure that these changes are happening and keep all employees up to date.
What Makes a Workspace Flexible
Here are some of the things to include when planning to adopt this next-generation office setting.
Adjustable and multipurpose furniture
Utilizing adjustable furniture like wheeled chairs and desks can help maximize available floor space if needed without being obstructions while retaining productivity. Adjusting the height or position of furniture also means a world of difference when it comes to ergonomics whether an employee is seated down or standing up.
If you want to, you can also implement hot-desking to encourage healthier practices in the office further and even foster camaraderie. This is when employees have no designated table; instead, the company offers a pool of desks in different areas, depending on where they find most comfortable and productive.
There is also dual- or multi-purpose furniture that is not only budget-friendly because you won’t need to buy pieces that only serve a single purpose, but can also reduce clutter and save space in the office.
In a flexible workplace, space or area can be used for different purposes, and this is especially helpful if the office is quite small.
For instance, a conference room when not in used can double as a dining area. This can be made possible with movable or flexible furniture.
Areas that allow collaboration
Companies often advertise teamwork as an integral part of success, but truth be told, traditional office layouts like staying in cubicles don’t really encourage it. Personal space is needed for focus, but when collaboration is necessary, space should be able to accommodate.
Mobile equipment is also integral in creating collaborative areas, but it also requires a comfortable space ample enough for teams to huddle, share ideas, and work. Have a space that incites conversations and inspires creativity.
Power and connectivity everywhere
Wi-Fi is one of the factors that drove the success of flexible workspaces, which is why it is crucial that your office’s connectivity is available all throughout and around the office. LAN cables can still be utilized, but wireless connection encourages movement and cooperation among employees better.
Aside from the Internet, do not sleep on outlets, too. Gadgets need to power up from time to time, but if an employee still needs to retreat to their desk just to recharge, then you’re not doing flexible workspace correctly. Provide “plug and play” areas by adding power in columns or mobile furniture.
Having flexible connectivity also means utilizing telecommuting or allowing efficient work outside of the office. Now that many employees do remote job, you need to consider using tools that make it easy to communicate with them in real time like Skype, Gmail, Toggl, or Slack, as these will also assure that work is going smoothly and on schedule.
Often the most overlooked aspect of designing the office is the lounge area—a space where employees can unwind or relax even for a moment outside of their desk or cubicle.
Aside from the comfort that cushioned chairs or sofas can provide, these spaces can prompt casual conversations to foster friendships among workers. It can even lead to creative thinking and problem-solving.
Benefits of Adopting Flexible Workspace
You will find that a flexible working environment is not only good for your employees, but for the overall success of the company as well.
A report from the Harvard Business Review says that “face-to-face interactions are the most important activity in an office” and workplace design can either help or resist that. However, the rise of telecommuting through wireless connectivity and mobile computing has reduced the need for in-person interactions at work.
Flexible workspaces through hot-desking or collaborative areas can help bring back the personal interactions needed for better productivity and company success.
When employees move throughout the day, they get to meet co-workers with different skills required for a task and even start a friendship with them.
Design upgrades would involve cost and as much as possible, companies would like to avoid too many expenses. The fact that flexible workspaces utilize multipurpose pieces and common areas can already cut costs from furniture purchases.
There are also existing workspaces that can be rented by companies that would allow flexibility at affordable prices. In addition, if you have a lot of part-time or remote workers, you can implement alternative work policies for workers in the office like hot-desking or unassigned workstations to maximize the space and reduce real estate expenses—all while boosting productivity and satisfaction.
A Comfortable Space
According to a study by Herman Miller, “worker comfort directly affects productivity, job satisfaction, retention, well-being, and worker health.”
If you want your employees to yield better results both for the company and themselves, consider creating flexible spaces that will let them be mobile and choose where and how they work most comfortably.
Workable office space is one that is not only pleasing to the eye, but is also functional. Functionality should not be limited to when one is working at his or her cubicle or table. This means that wherever the employees are inside the office, they should be able to stay productive.
Flexibility also means evolving to addresses the needs and potential of the current workforce to inspire the best work from them. Ask for the assistance of an office interior designer or planner on how to plan and fit your new, service office space.
Jen spent eight years in real estate, with six years in commercial leasing and facility management. She is now the leasing director of Figari handling leasing and business development. Her charisma and dynamic attitude certainly make her the life of the party. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach and getting a tan.