What Is a Flexible Office Space?
Flexible office spaces have become the rage these days. But do you know what a flexible office space is?
In this article we’ll take a look at what a flexible office is, along with elements that are included in most flexible office spaces.
What is a Flexible Office Space?
A flexible office space is a bit of jargon that usually refers to an office space that’s meant to be flexible. But flexible how? This type of office has everything that’s included in a traditional office. This includes workstations, desks, chairs, computers, and more. However, in a flexible office, these are arranged in very versatile ways. The office space itself can be used in a wide variety of ways. For instance, the open plan office layout can be quickly made into an impromptu meeting room.
Not only that, but the office space may even include other areas or spaces that make working more productive.
What’s Included in a Flexible Office Space?
That’s a good question! While they do include everything you find in a traditional office, there are some differences. In fact, a flexible office space is more practical and makes better use of the available space. This is because they include different areas that can do double duty or be used for a single purpose.
Flexible office spaces can include:
Breakout spaces: these areas that can be used for employees to collaborate together. A team can work together in small groups or even individually.
Quiet zones: the flexible office can be distracting for some employees. For this reason, quiet zones are created where these people can find more privacy and quiet. They’ll be able to have better focus and get more done in a quiet space.
Open plan: most flexible office spaces use an open plan office layout. The open concept keeps barriers from forming between employees, which works to create a more collaborative environment. This is also a great way to use up more of the floor space in the office, so no space is wasted.
Touch points: also called “landing zones,” these are areas where remote employees can work when they come in. It’s also a great place for employees who travel and come to the main office. They’ll be assured of having a place to work.
Shared resources: everyone can easily and quickly access the printer, break room, and other general areas of the office. Not only does this make it easier for everyone, but your business can also save money by not having to purchase office equipment for each department.
With a flexible office, everyone has enough space to work comfortably and they can work in a space that’s conducive to their productivity. This means if someone needs a quiet space, they can have it. Or for those who need to have a meeting, they also have the space needed to get things done.
What are the Benefits of a Flexible Office?
Flexible offices come with many benefits including:
- Reduce company costs and overhead
- Include amenities (breakout/lounge rooms)
- Cut down on wasted space
- Renting a flexible office space may mean you have a flexible lease
- Improved focus and productivity for employees
On top of these benefits, employees will have new ways to work. In the beginning it may be a little different for everyone, but as they become used to the new layout, you may find employees thrive in the new environment.
Not only that, but employees may also be happier and healthier, which increase job satisfaction. All of this can lead to greater innovation and increased visibility to the organisation, as well. Everything could lead to new customer and business partners.
How to Introduce the Flexible Office into the Workplace
While all the benefits, innovation, and happier employees are great, just how do you get everyone to embrace this new concept?
The way to gain acceptance of this new concept is to communicate with employees. This starts off with explaining why you’re going to a more flexible work environment. Here, explain the issues you’re trying to solve. For instance, you may find that a flexible work environment makes it easier to allow more employees to work remotely. The issues you’re solving are:
- Cutting the company’s carbon footprint
- Cut down on the cost of renting the office space—in this case, you’d probably be downsizing the office
- Employees can work in a freer manner and have fewer interruptions
- Have better work/life balance
- And more
As you communicate with employees, be honest and transparent. If you’re not, employees will quickly feel threatened by the idea of a flexible office, especially if they don’t really understand what this is.
Be sure to communicate with your employees well in advance of making any changes. Give them the opportunity to share their feelings and thoughts on the matter. You might even consider conducting surveys or focus groups to encourage discussions on this issue.
Have a plan in place for the types of workspaces that will be included in the flexible work environment. For instance, will it include:
- Hot desking
- Activity-based working
- Quiet zones
- Breakout areas
The more details you can share with employees, the better. That way they’ll have a realistic expectation of how the new layout will work. You don’t want any surprises for employees. The goal is to keep these to a minimum as much as possible.
And don’t forget to work around individual employees’ needs. Each person is unique and has their own needs. Ask these employees what they need to make it easier for them in the new flexible space. You can also do this through anonymous surveys.
Another option is to run a trial period with a flexible office environment. Let everyone experience how it will be. Then when the trial’s over, give them the opportunity to share their insights. Keeping everyone involved in the process will ensure you have a higher success rate.
Summing It Up
Remember it takes time to implement changes such as the move to a flexible office space. However, with the right tactics it’s possible to bring most everyone on board with the idea.
There will be an adjustment period; however, when that’s over, you may find your employees are more innovative and productive than ever in the new environment!
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