3 Office Design Elements That Enable Agile Working

by Pam Matula on June 12, 2019

Implementing agile working is a great way to boost employee productivity, encourage collaboration and improve space utilization.

At the same time, it’s a major transformation—especially if you’re doing away with assigned seats. To make the transition as smooth as possible for your workforce, you need to take a thoughtful, deliberate approach. You also need to make sure you have the right mix of spaces and the right elements in place.

If you’re considering adopting agile working, here are some helpful office design and layout tips to consider.

10 Areas Every Agile Working Environment Needs

While an agile working environment can be composed of a variety of different spaces that run the gamut in terms of extravagance, there are 10 essential spaces your office must have:

  1. A kitchen or cafeteria where employees can share a meal together in a comfortable space away from the rest of the office
  2. Casual meeting spaces with plenty of seating and whiteboards for informal meetings
  3. Collaboration/huddle zones for meetings with a small group of people and an agenda that doesn’t require privacy
  4. Conference rooms with videoconferencing technology for more formal meetings, meetings with larger groups and employee onboarding/training
  5. Individual workstations for employees to complete solo work
  6. A lounge with comfortable couches where employees can relax and chitchat
  7. Phone booths/enclaves where two colleagues can speak privately or an employee can take a personal call
  8. A printer/copier area in a centralized location for easy access for all employees
  9. Quiet areas where employees can go when they need to concentrate on a project and avoid distractions
  10. Visitor desks to accommodate visitors who aren’t normally at the office, such as clients or remote employees

As you play around with different layout options, consider the level of focus required for the types of activities that take place in each space as well as the usual number of employees involved. This should guide your decisions regarding where areas are located in relation to one another.

For instance, you wouldn’t want to place a quiet area next to the kitchen or huddle zones where employees are most likely engaged in collaborative activities.

Keep in mind what activities you’ll need each space to accommodate, too.  For example, if you need more spaces for project management activities,  consider what elements to incorporate, such as an easy-to-build agile project wall.

However you choose to arrange the office, the most important thing is that your layout supports the mobility and productivity of your employees.

Once you’ve considered the office design, there are other elements you’ll need to incorporate to making agile working conducive for everyone.

3 Elements of An Agile Working Environment

1. Noise-Absorbing Wall Panels, Clouds or Baffles

An agile working environment has two characteristics that make it especially prone to office noise.

The first is that it has fewer barriers like offices and cubicles walls. The second is that a lack of dedicated workstations means employees will travel through more of the office during the day. Because of this, you’ll need to take advantage of every opportunity to minimize office noise.

One way to accomplish this is adding noise-absorbing fixtures like wall panels, clouds or baffles. Baffles are suspended vertically from the ceiling and are ideal in work environments with high ceilings. Clouds hang horizontally from the ceiling and work best in workplaces with limited wall space. Acoustic wall panels are a good alternative to clouds and baffles for smaller workplaces and offices with lower ceilings. As an added bonus, you can use ceiling baffles, clouds and wall panels to distinguish one area from another in a more subtle and decorative way.

2. Multi-Purpose Reconfigurable Furniture

The core of agile working is mobility and flexibility. And the best way to support that is to have furniture that serves more than one purpose and can be easily reconfigured.

For casual meeting spaces and huddle zones, invest in conference room tables that can double as whiteboards for better brainstorming. Purchase desks that can be used as individual workstations or combined to become a larger, collaborative work surface for teammates.

You should also use acoustic furniture as much as possible since these pieces are built with specific dimensions and sound-deadening materials, which can increase privacy and minimize noise.

And if you’re doing away with assigned seating entirely, don’t forget to give employees a place to keep their personal belongings. If you don’t have lockers, you’ll need some extra shelf space.

3. Plug-and-Play Technology

In an agile working environment, employees are encouraged to move around the office throughout the day. But if they have to spend several minutes getting their laptop set up or connecting to audio conference or video conferencing technology each time they move, they’re more likely to stay put.

That’s why work areas need docking stations that allow employees to seamlessly move from space to space without disruption. In addition, employees should have access to fixed-line broadband connections when they need a stronger connection than Wi-Fi can provide. You should also ensure there is a mix of workstations with a single screen or multiple screens employees can use depending on their needs for the day.

Most importantly, each of these technologies should be plug-and-play, meaning employees can plug in their laptop and get to work.

Adopting an agile working environment should be an iterative process. To increase the likelihood of success, start small and continuously solicit employee feedback. Don’t make too many big changes at once or you risk encountering resistance from the workforce.

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Pam Matula

As Account Manager for iOFFICE, Pam works directly with our customers to ensure they have the best experience using iOFFICE. Pam came to the company as a former customer and daily user of the IWMS software. Because of her background, she is able to truly empathize with the varying needs of the FM during their IWMS journey. A strong leader, Pam's strategic nature and problem-solving skills developed from 18 years in the field serve her well when working with iOFFICE accounts.

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