An 'agile working environment' refers to a workplace that allows employees to choose how, where, and when they want to work. Agile environments focus on effective use of space to increase work mobility, improving collaboration and communication between employees. Get it right, and you can remove workplace silos, and break down both hierarchical and department-based barriers to create a more agile workforce.
You may have already adopted some form of agile working in your business, and if you haven’t, many companies have beaten you to it. It's no longer uncommon to see organisations taking steps to empower workers to be self-organised, work collaboratively, and have greater autonomy over how they work.
However, even with the adoption of agile, your workforce is sometimes only as successful as the tools you give them. True agility can’t be fully achieved without the right environment to do so. For example, teams can’t work together across departments if they have no set area to collaborate, and focus-based workers can’t concentrate while hiding behind their monitor to avoid their overly-chatty co-worker.
Sometimes, a trendy open-plan office isn’t the perfect fit for everyone, and measures such as workplace consultancy might be required to optimise office space to suit the needs of individual employees.
Recent reports show that 'work' is increasingly becoming something people do, rather than a place they go – and businesses are now finding themselves spending money on office space they just don’t use. With flexible and mobile working on the rise, overheads for desk space and utilities that aren't used frequently can have a significant impact on finances.
Agile work environments enable businesses to optimise their space with fewer permanent desks, allowing staff to embrace hot-desking and replacing rows of empty desks with specific areas for collaboration or concentration, which has been shown to increase productivity by up to 12%.
Gone are the days when departments were shut-off in their own bubble, only communicating with each other when they were ready to pass the baton. Agile offices have literally ‘opened doors’ between departments, enabling staff to work cross-functionally regardless of discipline.
Pixar rethought their entire office space with agility in mind and re-imagined agile workspaces as an opportunity to encourage unplanned collaborations and de-compartmentalised interactions. They found that embracing an agile environment reduced barriers between their employees, without hindering productivity. Better relationships between employees can create a stronger sense of community and affinity within your organisation.
84% of businesses said that it was easier to hire new talent when they embraced an agile way of working, due to the fact that agile working environments are generally more attractive to prospective new staff, as they promise flexibility and autonomy.
With greater decision-making over the way they work and control of their workspace, employees have the power to collaborate or concentrate easily without being interrupted. This can lead to improved satisfaction and higher employee engagement, ensuring businesses retain valuable talent as well as attracting it.
The reasons for this are simple. Employees are more likely to stay at their job for a longer period of time if they are satisfied with their working environment, and new talent is more likely to accept an offer if they perceive an attractive culture and workspace.
Agile workspaces support not only agile working but also agile living. With varied areas across the office that team members can freely move between, employees remain mobile and maintain their well-being. Think posture, movement, and relaxation.
A study by Glassdoor found that a ‘successful work culture’ and an emphasis on ‘people’ were two common factors among the top entries in the ‘best places to work 2017’ rankings, and these results are expected to hold strong into the 2018 rankings. Investment in culture and employee productivity leads to happy staff, and well-being is greatly linked to satisfaction.
An agile workspace removes the ‘work, work, work’ mentality, and instead places an emphasis on employee well-being as a means of productivity. In fact, engaged employees are found to be more emotionally invested in their work and are more focused on providing long-term value to their organisation.
Desirable places to work align their environment with the quality of performance they expect from their employees. Whether this is high levels of collaboration or long periods of concentration – an effective workspace will cater to all employee needs.
Agile workspaces are designed with these factors in mind, enabling agile working while considering important employee motives such as engagement, satisfaction, and well-being. All in all, the combination of these factors contribute to making your business a ‘great place to work.’ To learn more, why not download our special report into the 'agile office'?