Flexibility, not just between home and the office, but within the workplace has become non-negotiable. The days of static, rigid workspaces are a thing of the past as firms and their employees prioritize adaptability over all. Restrictive confinements deter employees’ productivity, retention levels and quality of work. Workspaces that are designed for flexibility support the constantly evolving needs of our hybridized work environment. These cost-effective solutions result in adaptable offices that support workers and encourage balance.
The experience of working in an office has shifted entirely. In turn, the purpose of coming into the office has also gone through a drastic change following our newly-embraced workflows. In an interview with BBC, James O’Flaherty, Adtrak’s business operations director emphasizes that “Before (COVID-19) it was, ‘I go to the office because that’s what I do to work’. Now, we want it to be more like, ‘I’m going into the office today because today is the day I see people’.” As a result of these shifting attitudes, in-person employees prioritize collaboration whenever the opportunity to be face-to-face presents itself.
We have learned that reliable workspaces and adaptable workspaces are not mutually exclusive. In fact, organizations and businesses now require spaces that design for flexibility.
Some of the newest office designs seen around the country are perfect examples of how flexibility can benefit both the business and its employees. Architecture and Design explains in a case study, “giving businesses and their employees the freedom and flexibility opens up a world of new parameters that will equip them for the new age of work,” easily accommodating the ebbs and flows of employee attendance.
Ensuring that employees are working in flexible spaces supports workflows of all shapes and sizes. This levels the playing field by creating opportunities for growth that may have been previously unattainable to certain groups of employees. This emphasizes that offices should adapt to the workflow of their user, not the other way around. In one study performed by Clutch, a data-driven market insight firm, over half (53%) of all workers surveyed stated that they valued flexibility in the office to support their productivity and quality of work. This statistic makes workplace flexibility the second-most-valued quality in a work environment, after an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable workspace. The same study also found that, “around 73% of workers agree that office appearance and work environment greatly influences where they choose to work.”
The design of an intentionally dynamic office space can become a perk in and of itself. According to Tracy Haugen, author and director at Deloitte Consulting, 1 in 3 workers say that being able to integrate work and life is the most important factor in choosing a job. Offices must accommodate spaces to both a ‘sit and work’ and a ‘interact and collaborate”. The design and built environment of a given workspace directly reflects company culture. As people increasingly value a work-life-balance, incorporating unconventional workspaces in office buildings signals a firm’s dedication to balancing personal and professional. Another benefit of creating communal workspaces is the ease of knowledge exchange. Ultimately, flexible offices offer a solution to encouraging creative problem solving, cultivating a sense of community and redefining the workplace.
As our workplaces continue to evolve, one thing is for certain: flexibility is non-negotiable. Adaptable and modular workspaces encourage efficient operations, optimal job satisfaction for employees and create agile environments. A well-designed adaptable office space has the potential to holistically support both the organization and employees’ needs. It is important that leaders analyze what transition is best at an individual, team and organizational level to make the most effective design choices.
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