Creating an Agile Office Space Design That’s Ready for Anything
Office cubicles have long dominated the office environment. But the way we work is changing, and with flexible working arrangements on the rise, businesses are under increasing pressure to change their approach to office environments in order to cater to the new needs and expectations of the modern workplace.
Today we’ll be exploring agile office space design and what you can do to get the most out of your office space.
Agile Office Design
Creating an agile workspace offers a range of benefits, including improved employee satisfaction, greater collaboration, and increased productivity. It also allows for better space efficiency which leaves offices with less unused floor space. But what is an agile working space, and how can you implement agile workspace design into your office?
Agile Office Meaning: What is an Agile Workplace?
Agile workplaces are a type of work environment that’s tailored to the unique requirements and preferences of your staff. By offering greater autonomy, staff tend to feel happier and more respected at the office while being able to work more productively. In short, agile work environments are about empowering employees to choose how and where they work best.
Agile offices are designed to facilitate every mode of working to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity. Compared to a more traditional office design in which team members sit at designated desks all day, agile workplaces encourage staff to move around and use whatever space and resources best suit the project they’re working on. For example, while a quiet zone would be suitable for independent work, it wouldn’t be appropriate for collaborative projects that require a lot of discussion.
For this reason, modern office design is an important factor when implementing an agile working model.
Empowering Choice with an Agile Office
Agile Working Environment Principles
The ideal agile workplace will be different for every business depending on your company’s needs, goals, the number of people you employ, and a range of other factors. However, there are some common goals that every office design project should aim to achieve:
Communication and teamwork
Supporting different work modalities
Breaking down resource silos
Proving trust for your employees
Designing an Agile Working Space
Compared to traditional layouts, an agile office layout is a varied space made up of different areas. This includes quiet spaces for independent work, huddle rooms for informal meetings and brainstorming sessions, and large meeting rooms for more formal meetings.
To help maximise your office space for agile working, you must first consider the type of work your employees do and how you can support this in your office design. For example, if your company is generally geared towards independent work, then your agile office may contain a larger number of private rooms to support solo activity. On the other hand, if you hold a lot of team meetings, then your agile workspace may require more conference rooms instead. Similarly, if your employees do a lot of shared project work, you may need to provide more enclosed rooms to encourage discussion and foster collaboration.
There’s no right or wrong answer for agile office design, so consider the specific needs of your company and plan accordingly. Here are some ideas for the types of facilities that make up agile workspaces.
Open plan spaces
Encouraging employee interaction and fostering a company culture of teamwork, even between different departments, open office design and open plan spaces tend to sit at the heart of every agile workplace.
Creating spaces for teams to work on independent, focus-heavy work without distraction, quiet zones are often enclosed rooms located away from high-traffic areas.
From corporate lounge rooms to outdoor shared spaces, breakout spaces are where staff can go to get a break from the busy office, grab a bite to eat, or interact with other employees outside of the work environment.
Ideal for holding more formal meetings with corporate teams, these rooms may also be fitted with audio and visual equipment for companies that allow teams to work remotely.
These are typically smaller and more informal spaces in which small groups of employees can discuss and work together on a project. As with more formal meeting rooms, huddle spaces may also be fitted with audio and visual equipment so onsite staff can communicate with team members who are working remotely.
Client meeting rooms
Whether held in-person or remotely, having a visually appealing and comfortable place to hold client meetings can reflect positively on your business.
A touchdown space is an area where an employee can quickly ‘touch down’ with their laptop to complete some work. Designed for short bouts of productivity, these areas can take many forms such as a workstation, a standing desk, or an enclosed ‘work pod’.
No matter how your teams approach tasks, there are always going to be resources that everyone needs to use. Make these resources easy to find by setting up a dedicated storage room.
Touchdown Spaces to Support Work On-The-Go
If you’re operating out of a small building that can’t possibly cater to all these needs, operable walls and freestanding partitions can be used in the place of permanent rooms. These allow you to divide up the physical space in seconds while still retaining the freedom to rearrange or open up the area when you need a more open plan design.
Mobile partitions can be used to set up a temporary conference room, private work areas, or quiet spaces for a little more privacy and acoustic control in the office.
Empowering Choice with Agile Office Furniture
Now that you’ve worked out the layout of your agile workplace, it’s time to start thinking about your furniture. The key to a successful agile working environment is creating an office space in which your team feels free to move around and choose their own work style.
An agile workplace should be fitted with varied, flexible and adjustable chairs that can be moved around with ease and adapted to suit any body type. People have different needs and preferences when it comes to seating, so it’s best to offer a range of options so staff can decide what suits them best, or even switch it up throughout the day.
Seating options include:
Varied seating and couches
Ergonomic rolling chairs
‘Active’ furniture such as gym balls
But agile furniture is about much more than just chairs. It includes any type of furniture that can be adapted to the needs of the room, offering greater flexibility to customise the space.
Some examples of other types of flexible furniture include:
Portable storage units
Flexible Furniture for Greater Productivity
Managing Noise in the Office
Controlling noise is a challenge for offices all around the world. Thankfully, with just a few minor changes, you can help minimise noise and distraction so your teams can work in peace.
Incorporating more fabric surfaces into the room can help dampen sound to control reverberation and amplification. Things like fabric chairs, couches, rugs, and carpeted floors are a great way of managing workplace noise. Installing acoustic wall panels and ceiling tiles can also assist in improving the acoustics of the room, creating a more pleasant office environment for everyone.
Championing an Agile Workplace Culture
The modern workplace is becoming a more agile and flexible place to work, but in order to make it successful, your employees must be a part of the change. Getting everyone on the same page is essential to successfully shifting to an agile working model. Be sure to involve your teams in the process, and ask for their feedback and suggestions about what they want from this new working model. Invite teams to raise questions and concerns so you can put their minds at ease while identifying any issues you may have overlooked.
Changes to the workplace can be confusing and even upsetting for people who have become accustomed to a certain way of working. It’s best to transition to the new way of working in small steps, allowing teams to adjust to the changes before moving on to the next step. This can minimise disruptions so people can stay productive as you gradually optimise the workplace for agile working.
Remember to also explain every change in process and design so people understand what they need to do and why they need to do it. Keeping your teams in the loop not only minimises confusion, it also maintains a sense of ownership over the space, enhancing employee buy-in and supporting optimum performance.
Encourage an Office Culture that Values Choice
The Pillars of a Successful Agile Office
Agility requires much more than just a good design and a clever layout. It’s about integrating adaptable processes into your business operations, fostering a more flexible company culture, and empowering employees with greater autonomy to choose how and where they work best.
Transforming your workplace should be a gradual process involving several key steps:
1. Start with a plan: Consider how your business works, what your employees do, and how your office can help support these activities.
2. Ask your employees: No one knows what your employees need better than your employees themselves. Ask for input into what your teams need out of the office and what they feel is currently lacking.
3. Establish a floor plan: Decide how you want people to use the space and map out a floor plan that best facilitates this. Consider that starting from a modern minimalist office design will be easier than starting from traditional cubicle office.
4. Create multiple zones: Support a variety of working styles and activities by establishing an assortment of spaces, such as a breakout space, an open space, private areas, and more. If there isn’t enough room for permanent rooms, consider movable walls and partitions. These allow you to temporarily create useful spaces of any shape or size without committing to a permanent layout.
5. Buy the right chairs: Purchase flexible, mobile, and ergonomic seating to maximise comfort while encouraging freedom of movement. Offering a range of seating options can also help employees choose where they want to sit rather than remaining tied to a single desk all day.
6. Invest in other types of flexible furniture as well: More than just chairs, flexible furniture includes anything that gives you freedom to adapt your space at any time. Mobile partitions, for example, can be used to create a temporary meeting room before being folded up and stored away between uses.
7. Get your teams on board: Help your employees come to grips with the changes by keeping them in the loop about what you’re doing and why, asking for feedback, and showing teams how best to use the space.
8. Be willing to change: Just because you change the workplace doesn’t mean you can’t change it back. Don’t be afraid to try something different if you find your initial ideas don’t go to plan.