Adaptability is something that many of us lack in the workspace.
For generations, workspaces have been relatively fixed, static environments – places built for the convenience of the business, not for the wellbeing of the employee.
Times are changing, and we’re now entering into a new era of flexible workspace design, one in which workspaces are created with employees at the heart.
Flexibility and wellbeing is increasingly important to younger generations, with 24% of millennials expecting a social and wellbeing programme from their workplace, and 33% looking for a fun, creative and well-designed workplace.
The modern workplace should be mouldable to employee needs, enabling people to work in the ways that they prefer, or based on how they’re feeling; it should be an environment that suits them across their broad range of tasks and moods.
Why? Because happy and healthy employees are more productive and more profitable.
In this blog, we’ll delve a little deeper into the flexible workspace, learning more about how your space can adapt to the needs of your people.
A flexible workspace relies on human-centred design, a principle where the workplace ‘revolves around its people and considers their specific needs.’
A human-centred workspace should meet two criteria:
Care needs to go into your workplace design; genuine care for the people who will be in the workspace day in, day out.
To develop this level of empathy, you need to immerse yourself in the working community. Talk to individuals, learn what they want and need – find out what the people who will be using the space actually want.
It’s very easy to simply presume. By taking the time to get involved in your community, you’re ensuring that the investment you’re making in your workspace won’t be wasted.
More often than not, our clients are surprised by the opinions of their employees!
Creative design solutions can be used to help alleviate many issues that your people face in the workplace.
Issues may come in the form of loneliness (which has seen a significant spike in reports since remote working became the norm), or it may be that people are struggling to form connections with colleagues.
Classic office design unintentionally distances employees.
Poor desks and workstation arrangements, coupled with a lack of social or collaborative spaces can make employees feel isolated, even when surrounded by others at work.
The solution? Adopt a new methodology – design thinking; a mindset that is not problem-focused, it is ‘solution-focused and action oriented.’ The goal is to ‘create solutions that are not only technically feasible and financially viable, but also desirable to those end users.’
By carefully planning and creatively implementing good design principles, you’re able to create an environment that employees want to be in, making coming into the office rather than staying at home a tantalising prospect.
While all of the above is desirable, it’s not necessarily attainable for an organisation of your size. Creating the ideal flexible workplace that suits everyone is simply not feasible with that many employees.
So, this poses an important question: what does workspace flexibility look like for your large organisation?
The unfortunate reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution; you can’t completely reinvent your workspace to accommodate granular flexibility, but you can work to create multifunctional/reflection rooms, and to help improve wellbeing to suit the growing workforce demand.
The easiest way for you to help boost flexibility levels in your workplace? Build a breakout space, defined as ‘any space without a predetermined purpose.’
This might be a space with a few tables and chairs, through to a full experiential or outdoor space for employees to unwind in.
Simple, modest breakout spaces implemented for Harrison Retail.
Investing in employee wellbeing is investing in your bottom line.
Happier employees are more profitable employees; it’s a win-win for everyone.
In fact, a study from Forbes revealed that happy employees are as much as 20% more productive in the workplace than unhappy employees.
Giving workers greater control over how and where they work plays a huge part in boosting the mental and emotional health of your employees.
What you might choose to do varies hugely depending on the demographic of your staff. For example, if you’re in tech, you need a more relaxed environment that suits Millennials and Gen X. Make decisions that balance the needs of the business with the needs of your employees.
Being realistic, everyone is doing this.
Chances are, your organisation is already working to improve employee engagement and enhance workplace flexibility. The question is: are you doing enough, and is it what your people actually want?
Whatever you are (or are not) doing, now is a good time to take stock of your people, your place and your processes to ensure you’re providing the best for your teams. You can do this alone, or you can bring in the professionals and guarantee you get it right.
Rhino are a better partner for change. We’ve worked with large organisations across the UK, helping to strike the right balance between workplace flexibility and business success.
We’re here to unlock your team’s potential. By running an audit of your team and holding workshops to identify existing constraints, we can help you implement quick workplace wins, all while defining long-term success pathways, helping you win the loyalty of both existing and new employees.
Our consultants are here to address any concerns you may have. Get in touch today by clicking the link below; let’s bring realistic levels of flexibility to your workplace together. Talk to workplace experts
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