While the term ‘agile working environment’ might seem like a foreign idea to many, a lot of the companies at the top of the ‘most desirable places to work’ lists are adopting the values, standards and attitudes that come along with the agile working trends.

Is this new way of working merely a passing fad, or is it paramount to creating more productive workplaces?

What is an agile working environment?

An agile workplace is one in which anyone can work anywhere, at anytime. Various pieces of technology and even the specific talents and skills of people within the business can support this type of concept, but without a doubt the strongest pieces of support for agile workspaces are the interior design elements and architecture.

Designing rooms and spaces specifically for efficiency, productivity and collaboration means those results will actually be achieved. Instead of needing to choose your work activities to fit your workspace, now you can choose your workspace to fit your activities. If you ever need to be flexible and move on to a new activity with other people in the business, it’s easy to change your location and work from a different space which suits your new needs better.

The agile working environment seems like a great idea, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to make sure your workspace could actually benefit from the change or if your current office configuration is what works best.

The perks

  • One of the biggest draw cards for the modern employee is a work space that is comfortable, fun and promotes collaboration. A space that does all this and more can attract the best, highly skilled employees.
  • Spaces designed specifically for innovation and collaboration are more likely to actually achieve those results, ensuring that your business is moving forward.
  • By replacing many set desks with new spaces designed for different activities, you can be reassured that your employees can find a space to work where they can be at their best. This means you are getting the best work out of them and they feel as though their work is more meaningful and effective, giving your whole team a positive outlook on their work.
  • With spaces designed for socialisation, recreation and making connections with fellow employees, this positivity at work is carefully nurtured and will only grow to exude into the rest of their work.

The challenges

For many businesses, the biggest challenge is simply employee attitudes to the transition to an agile working space:

  • Moving from cubicles or assigned offices for individual work to having open spaces designed with collaboration as a priority could be a change that some are unwilling or unsure how to accept.
  • Others will have privacy at the forefront of their minds – if there is a heavy focus on public spaces rather than private, many are naturally concerned that their privacy will be compromised.
  • Hot-desking can be a great option for many businesses, but it may take some trial and error to find the perfect solution for your workplace. Many businesses have found that through a ‘first-in, first-served’ attitude, some team members end up further away from each other than is ideal. Your architect or designer can help you find a ratio that works for your business, to avoid unused desks, overcrowding of desks or displacement of team members.
  • For many who have spent years climbing the business ladder to snag that corner office or the desk with the view, changing to a flatter office space hierarchy may be a kick in the guts. Many will see the flat, open landscape as a positive equaliser, but others may see it as insulting or even a ‘demotion.’