As a concept, agile working is concerned with empowering employees and removing traditional constraints, providing staff with the freedom to work when, where and however they like. In today’s age of smartphones and tablets, video calling and cloud storage, it is also becoming increasingly popular.
Indeed, a 2015 study from Stanford University found that flexible workers were more productive, less likely to take sick days and produced a superior overall performance. Meanwhile, 83 percent of respondents to a recent survey conducted by Vodafone reported that adopting flexible working led to improvements in productivity and profit.
So how can you get your office ready for the ‘agile working’ era?
1. Make Your Office Layout Flexible
Agile working does not mean ‘remote working’, it means offering a choice. Many staff will still like the routine of going into a physical workplace, so office space planning is essential. Ideally, you should aim to provide different ‘types’ of space or zones. So, you may have one open plan area with large tables, wall boards and video conference facilities for collaboration, and another partitioned area for privacy featuring elements such as insulated walls to block out noise
2. Think About Your Technology
A successful agile working approach relies on effective use of technology. If you are going to have staff working from home or on the go, they must be able to access the things they need. This could mean providing company devices and will almost certainly mean giving them access to the company’s private network and/or cloud storage.
3. Leave Room For Future Expansion
When the US retailer Best Buy switched to a flexible working strategy at their headquarters, they experienced a 45 percent reduction in staff turnover, according to The Telegraph. Happy workers and low staff turnover offer stability, which is the perfect platform for expansion. Therefore, you should try to make sure your office interior design leaves room for growth and a greater number of staff in the years ahead.
4. Create a Virtual Office Environment
While remote workers are often very productive, there is a danger that they can become isolated from important workplace discussions, or suffer from a lack of collaboration. Company messaging systems can help, but a virtual office environment can also be created by utilizing video calling technology.
5. Pay Attention to Your Break Areas
One of the things agile working affords employees is greater control over how they use their time. However, this can sometimes mean staff are in the building for longer hours, so it is important that break areas are adequate. You do not necessarily have to adopt things like sleeping pods, but try to create communal areas of adequate size, ensuring they’re interesting and useful.
6. Try to Orchestrate Chance Encounters
According to the Harvard Business Review, creating chance encounters or unplanned ‘collisions’ between staff can improve performance, because this is where many of the best ideas come from. Try to design an office layout that encourages people to move around and stop to have spontaneous conversations.
7. Take Cyber Security Very Seriously
Finally, cyber security is one potential pitfall of allowing workplace flexibility, especially if staff use their own devices. Make use of passwords and encryption, and take care to ensure people can only access things they have the right level of authorization for. It can be difficult to monitor what files and apps staff download in their own time, so up-to-date virus software is also a must.
Photo Credit: Kulpercompany Flickr via Compfight cc