Agile working, it's the future

Leeson Medhurst, Head of Workplace Strategy Agile working, Wellbeing

Gone are the days of sitting in the same seat, at the same desk, alongside the same people every working day. Increasingly, organisations are encouraging their people to work where, when and how they choose in order to meet the requirements of their job role. This also allows individuals to work in a way that suits their personality types and individual preferences.

This behaviour is known as agile working. The adoption of agile working within a business requires a certain mindset, and its success is dependent on the ability to constantly adapt.

Agile working and activity-based design

In order to encourage agile working behaviours in the workplace, it’s important to create a dynamic environment that lends itself to responding to a change in needs. Activity-based design facilitates agile working. It caters for the different tasks that the workforce may need to carry out in any one day.

A future-proofed workplace design equipped for agile working will feature multiple working environments to support both individual and group work.

What does research say about ABW?

Around 80% of employees said productivity was influenced by whether they had access to a quiet room for them to focus on a task – Skanska and JLL.
81% of employees at businesses that apply ABW said its company supports mobility and flexibility – Leesman.

65% of workers reported that collaborative spaces designed for smaller groups would increase productivity – APQC.

The benefits of activity-based working

Creates multiple working environments under one roof

Working from home offers a comfortable and peaceful environment which can be great for focused work. However, separating employees for long periods of time can lead to a breakdown in communication, isolation, and silos within teams.

Creating multiple environments under one roof preserves and incubates company culture and makes for streamlined and often unplanned communication that leads to problem solving and those all-important lightbulb moments.

Increase productivity

Agile working thanks to activity-based design gives employees the chance to work in a way that suits them at that particular time. Ever struggled to find an hour of quiet time in a traditional open-plan office? Or can’t find space for an informal brainstorm with your team? Whether it’s less distractions or more cooperation, activity-based design caters for types of working and personality types.

Employee satisfaction

A lack of control and power at work was one of the leading causes of burnout at work according to a Clockify. Providing the freedom to work how and where an employee wants puts the ownership on them to deliver what they need to deliver in a way that suits them. It's all about trust and empowerment in flexible working which both contribute to talent retention and acquisition and of course, engagement.

‘The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.’ – Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft

Activity-based workplace design in practice

If agile working is the theory, and activity-based design is the practice, how can you design your workplace to create a more dynamic and productive environment? Check out these solutions:

  • Booths provide a relaxed space for collaboration and a break from benched desking.
  • One-man focus rooms - Excellent for introverts and those easily distracted who need to focus. These spaces are also excellent to join virtual meetings without disturbing colleagues.
  • Quiet library - A tech and distraction free space that employees can share with others, so they don’t feel too isolated but provides the opportunity to focus.
  • Collaboration zones – Prevent grouping around desks by providing break out spaces and collaboration zones. We have introduced these in our own office on every floor.
  • Relaxed and formal meeting spaces – A variety in meeting room styles encourage different forms of collaboration and communication. Boardroom tables have a time and a place and sofa seating with soft furnishings are great spaces for creative thinking and interviews for businesses with a casual culture.

How to create an agile working environment for your business?

Our Workplace Strategy team work with our clients to optimise their workplaces. This may include a recommendation to create activity-based working environments. However, even the most perfect workplace configuration is useless unless your people understand how, and critically why, they should use it. Our team work carefully to manage any changes to your business practices, so the transition is seamless.

Understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating the perfect working environment, our team create bespoke solutions tailored to you, as we did with the Liberal Democrats office design.

Through analysis of how your employees use your space, what percentage of the space is needed for varying sized meetings, and how your team collaborate with each other allow our team to understanding how your space should work for your people, and support your business strategy. Get in touch to find out more.

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