A workspace is not just about work. It is also about offering employees a space that allows them to work freely where, when and how they want. Flexibility in a workspace means that a conference room is not just a room for occasional meetings, but a room that can serve as a space for teams to come together or an employee to work in a silo. if necessary. By making optimal use of space, organizations can address the challenges of today’s workforce as well as concerns about costs, occupancy, operations and processes.
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Most contemporary offices embrace flexible working options and incorporate design and layout changes to foster a culture that empowers employees to be the best versions of themselves. The basic principle of setting up a flexible workspace is to ensure that it supports employees in their dynamic needs, a space equipped to enable them to perform tasks in a way that does not not inhibit their productivity, whether in groups or in private.
As daily tasks change and evolve, organizations can incorporate flexibility into their offices through optimal use of space in terms of office options, seating structures, furniture and technology. It can also have a direct impact on the productivity, well-being, retention and production of employees.
Here are some of the characteristics of a flexible workspace:
Space design matters
The design of the workspace is directly related to flexibility. The architecture and design of a workspace will determine how it can accommodate small spaces for fewer employees as well as larger hubs or easily accessible workspaces. An open-plan layout allows for a sense of structure by removing any walls or physical barriers, effectively accommodating a larger number of people. Not only is it profitable, but it also creates a feeling of uninterrupted collaboration between inter and intra-departmental employees. Easy reconfiguration with social distancing in mind is an added benefit that allows organizations to keep their workers safe when they return to the office.
Poles of collaboration
Ambient noise has always been a drawback associated with flexible open plan designs. However, creating an activity-based layout for an open plan that is agile and meets the different needs of the workspace can combat this. A subdivided office, with both collaborative and private spaces, offers employees the opportunity to work in an environment suited to their needs. These hubs can be any size and set up anywhere in a building, whether it’s an open plan, quiet corner or soundproof room. Lounges and recreation areas also serve as spaces where employees can relax and unwind, while kitchens and pantries are more conducive to socializing or quick breaks.
While desks and chairs are essential, they should be consistent with the needs of the employees and the way they work. Unlike traditional seating, the use of modern furniture such as standing desks, wheelchairs, and lumbar-supported seating is crucial for flexible work areas as it gives employees the mobility they need. Beanbags, sofas and more relaxed seating can be incorporated into the living rooms, with lots of natural light, to make it more attractive.
The use of technology is also a key determinant of a flexible workspace. Ensuring easy and accessible outlets for charging devices, AV carts, whiteboards or projectors throughout the office can ensure work stays as smooth as possible.
Culture of self-employment
Giving your team the freedom to work where, when and how they want will help build trust between employer and employee. By providing employees with resources that make their jobs easier and giving them the flexibility they need to produce the desired results, one can create an environment and a culture that they want to return to.
For business owners, flexible workspaces, especially during the pandemic, have brought a variety of benefits, many of which go beyond productivity. Such spaces provided them with the agility they needed to scale down or scale up based on their team size or changing business goals.
According to a report by JLL, the flexible workspace market is expected to cross 50 million square feet by 2023, due to increased demand from large enterprises. In fact, companies like TATA Sky Broadband and Colliers allow employees to work from any coworking space across the country, and teams can choose when and where they want to meet and collaborate. These are workspaces specially organized and designed for these companies, offering them an office space offering flexibility, choice, concentration and collaboration between different teams and their various sectors of activity.
Organizations across industries need to support workers with spaces that meet their evolving needs and provide them with the comfort and functionality needed to achieve their goals. By fostering versatility and collaboration, flexible workspaces can meet the demands of today and tomorrow.
Karan Virwani is the CEO of WeWork India.
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