More and more businesses are opening their eyes to the opportunities offered by agile workspaces. The benefits of agile working have been discussed in detail elsewhere, but this article sets out to explore which aspects of agile workspaces deserve the most attention when planning your office fit-out.
Décor that Delights
Designing an agile environment that your employees will look forward to working in each day is no mean feat, but there are a few key elements of design and décor that can help you achieve this.
First, carefully consider your use of colour. Many businesses make the mistake of painting the walls of their workspaces with their brand colours. Nuclear green might be brilliant for an attention-grabbing logo, but it’s hardly the best choice of colour for a creative and productive workspace.
Wassily Kandinsky, the 19th century artist, once said: “Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.” A hundred years later, we have the research to back this up. It’s called colour theory, and it posits that different colours effect our mood. Warm colours, like yellow and red, energise and excite, while cool colours, such as blue and green, relax and calm.
Take advantage of this knowledge when decorating your workspace. If there’s an area of your office with a high amount of traffic, think about using blue to add a touch of serenity. Conversely, for spaces used for brainstorming ideas, a strong purple is said to stimulate curiosity and creativity.
Secondly, think about bringing some of the outside inside. With the average Brit spending 53 years of their life indoors, introducing some greenery into the workplace is sure to be appreciated by your workforce and provides a number of benefits for your business.
One Australian study found that placing plants in the workplace reduced feelings of tension and anxiety by 37%, while 38% of workers reported feeling less fatigued. Another study, by the University of Exeter, found that productivity jumped up 15% when just a handful of houseplants were introduced to the office.
We humans are what scientists call ‘biophiles’ – we have an inherent desire to feel connected to nature. It’s important then to give thought to ways of bringing nature indoors when planning your fit-out.
Furniture is often an overlooked aspect of an office fit-out. One could assume this is due to budget constraints, but if that’s the case, organisations are failing to grasp the true value of furniture in the workplace. In agile workspaces especially, those who don't properly consider their objectives and then subsequently choose furniture to support this, are likely to be on the slippery slope to an unproductive workspace.
From desks and chairs to filing cabinets and shelving, your company’s choice of office furniture undoubtedly has a huge impact on levels of employee motivation and productivity.
Generic office chairs and bland desks are unlikely to inspire and energise your workforce, so taking the time to invest in ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing office furniture is a must.
Furniture choice also affects your employees’ health and well-being. A study by ergonomic experts Fellowes, suggests that poorly designed workstations cost companies upwards of £7.2 billion pounds a year in sick-pay. Clearly, it pays to get office furniture right.
The layout of your new agile workspace could be considered the most important element to get right. After all, without the right layout in place, how is an agile office any different from a traditional layout?
Truly agile workspaces should consist of several separate work areas for different functions, namely spaces that allow for:
- Holding meetings and workshops
It's typical that an open-plan area will act as your main workspace, where your employees will spend most of their time, and are an essential element of an agile office. They allow for improved communication between project teams and are ideal for any workers focusing on computer-based tasks. These areas are very space-efficient, too. However, as is well documented, poorly executed open plan workspaces have the potential to be distracting, noisy, and lacking private areas for sensitive conversations. This is why employing the help of workplace specialists who can minimise these hazards is imperative.
Breakout spaces are multipurpose areas that usually involve communal booths and comfy seating areas. They can be used for all manner of things, from ad hoc meetings and briefings to eating lunch and taking a break. Breakout spaces offer a more collaborative and creative substitute for your typical meeting room and should be located near to your open-plan area to allow easy access.
Although collaboration and increased communication are brilliant, sometimes your employees are just going to need some privacy. That’s where quiet zones come into play. These areas should be separate from your open-plan space, away from any noise and distraction. They’re perfect spaces for holding telephone conversations, meetings with clients, or concentrating on difficult tasks.
A combination of these different zones is a vital component of designing an effective agile work environment.
Agile work environments should, above all else, create a culture of community and collaboration. You can design the perfect workspace, but for your company to become truly agile, you need to nurture the agile mindset in your staff members. Consulting your workforce at the out-set of a office re-design can ensure they're pleased with the result and maximise the positive impact it will have.
With the aim of encouraging this cultural shift, there has been a developing trend of resimercial design – where residential comfort and commercial practicality combine to create a workspace that’s homely yet invigorating for workers. This design philosophy is a response to the fact that more people than ever are working from home and expect similar levels of comfort when at the office.
An agile corporate culture is all about creating an environment where frequent feedback is encouraged, staff feel like they can voice their views on processes, and plans can adapt to unforeseen changes. It’s crucial to get your staff on-board if you wish to create a truly agile business.
We’ve outlined here some of the most important aspects to focus on when planning an agile fit-out, but do any of them take precedent over the others?
Mckinsey define the agile methodology as the transition from businesses as machines, with a top-down hierarchy, to businesses as organisms – with multiple components coming together to create an organisation that's flexible and constantly evolving. In light of this, the answer to the question above is no – all the aspects discussed here need to be carefully considered to create the perfect agile business.
If your organisation is ready to take advantage of the agile methodology, but you’re not sure where to start, speak to us. We have years of experience in designing workplaces that inspire workers and drive productivity and creativity. In the mean time, why not order yourself a copy of our fit-out guide?