Today’s world requires a more flexible, mobile, and collaborative workforce. This means creating office environments that can seamlessly adapt with the ongoing needs of your business and the day-to-day needs of employees. Offering employees options for their workspace boosts creativity, collaboration, productivity, and morale, and businesses that are able to functionally scale their office setup as they change and grow can save time, effort, and money in the long run. Flexible workspaces enable agile companies to thrive.
Flexibility in the office is attractive to potential employees. According to a survey by CapitalOne and Wakefield Research, 85% of millennials said that design flexibility is an important factor in their work environment. More specifically, they said moveable furniture was a key characteristic of the ideal office environment. Being able to easily change up the work environment is an attractive perk - offering a variety of flexible spaces, movable privacy partitions, and active elements like standing desks will help employees stay happy and engaged.
Work styles and needs differ from employee to employee and from project to project. One way to provide for these changing needs is to offer different spaces that are conducive to different types of work. Cubicles, small offices, or even designated “quiet” rooms are necessary for more focused individual work, whereas open areas like lounges or multi-purpose rooms are needed for collaborative group work. It is also important to offer employees neutral, public spaces where they can gather to connect and unwind - often referred to as “third places”. Whether it’s a café or simply a cluster of couches, these areas allow creativity to flourish, which leads to more satisfied and productive employees.
Providing communal areas like this promotes collaboration, communication, and creativity. This is amplified when communal workspaces have a more casual, relaxed design. The old formal “boardroom” style meeting rooms are being cast aside in favor of areas filled with casual, comfortable seating that is more conducive to the creative sharing of ideas.
Offering a variety of workspace options allows each employee to work in an environment that is most conducive to their productivity. A flexible workspace means that with laptops, mobile phones, and WiFi, employees can work anywhere in the office (not just their cubicle) or even from home, a café, or the road. This level of mobility is not only a benefit to employees, but to companies as well - happier employees tend to work harder and have lower rates of absenteeism.
According to a study by architectural firm Gensler, employees who have a say in when, where, and how they work are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and perform better. Allowing employees to choose what type of work environment best suits their needs for each project can improve both morale and productivity. For instance, if an employee needs to make phone calls to clients, they will be able to complete that task much more efficiently in a sound-proof office or phone booth than in a communal workspace; but employees who are working on a project that requires brainstorming will need an environment that is much more conducive to creativity such as a lounge or communal workspace.
One downfall of a more mobile, adaptable office setting is often a lack of privacy. However, don’t let that deter you - there are an abundance of solutions to this problem. To ensure workplace privacy, consider implementing some or all of the following:
- Computer screen filters
- Movable privacy screens
- Small private workspaces that can be booked like conference rooms
- “Phone booth” style soundproof rooms for private phone calls or video conferences, such as Versare’s Hush Panel Privacy Room.
- Portable room dividers that can be easily rearranged.
Offering flexibility doesn’t have to mean giving up workplace privacy. With these solutions, your employees can be as secure as ever.