For those companies looking to adopt an agile office space, there are certain essential elements that can make the project a success, or a failure. Providing flexible solutions to some of the issues we experience in the office is a great way to help boost employee morale, and increase productivity, if done right.
Over the years the term agile has come to mean a number of things. What started off as a single concept, has now branched and merged into meaning an adaptable strategy, a framework for fast results, and many others.
For the purpose of this article we will cover various definitions in order to fully cover the topic of how to create an agile, flexible and appealing office space where employees will thrive, and managers will see productivity rise.
So in this article we will take a closer look at what exactly is needed to create an effective agile office that works for our modern day philosophies, creating new opportunities for employees, and the many other benefits associated with an agile office.
Flexible desk arrangements
Collaborating internally is key to success in any business. By breaking down the barriers for communication and the transfer of knowledge, companies can increase productivity, foster new talents, and stay competitive in an ever changing landscape.
Flexible desking can help facilitate this to a great extent. By allowing employees to switch up their seating arrangements, or creating separate and new office workstations designed specifically for collaboration, can be a great way to modernize the office and boost efficiency.
Think in terms of hubs and zones
Not all offices and managers are interested in the constant shuffling of furniture and laptops that a flexible desk arrangement solution can result in.
For those companies, it might be more beneficial, and less detrimental to the overall focus of the employees, to redesign the layout to accommodate different types of hubs or zones. One idea that is gaining popularity, is the so-called touchdown spaces, where remote workers can set up their laptops for a few days while in office.
And even with an existing open office plan it is possible for companies to create quiet areas where people can sit in peace and work, recreational zones where people can fulfill their need for personal interactions, and hubs of workstations where people temporarily collaborating can set up a workflow for the duration of their shared project.
This way the employees will be less burdened by constantly having to schedule meetings in the conference rooms, and overall there will be less friction associated with collaboration, leading to higher levels of productivity and a more agile working culture.
Break down physical barriers
Creating a more open space will also help in making the office more agile, due to the nature of how people interact in more open spaces. It will become less of a burden for employees to ask their coworkers for advice or guidance, and it will naturally lead to more collaboration, not just within the different departments, but across the board.
In the offices where it is feasible, it can therefore be a great idea to remove existing partitions, or by upgrading the office furniture with a more modern approach. It is however important to keep in mind the potential for increased noise pollution, so consider adding plants or specific soundproofing elements in order to counteract the more open office space.
As with all things, too much of something is not good either. There should still be opportunities for employees and managers to retreat into a quieter environment, perhaps even establishing quiet zones in the far corners of the office, but even just a conference or break room can be a great way to focus while working on a particular taxing project.
The agile manifesto states that we should value individuals and their interactions over fixed processes and tools. But that does not necessarily mean we should ignore software and apps as part of the solution to a more agile office.
By embracing the benefits, and by recognizing the potential downsides of technology, any company can improve their overall productivity, and make their employees even happier. By using technology to aid in collaboration and brainstorming, companies will not only see better and faster results, but also be able to attract new talent and retain the existing employees at a higher rate than earlier.
It is important to keep in mind the overall agile approach however, and not invest too many resources into software or technology that might not be a great fit. Alternatively larger companies can use agile pilots to test the waters before the business fully commits to a new initiative.