Flexible office space: versatility and employee-centricity at its best

deskbird
8 min readAug 15

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Are you one of the thousands of people typing “flexible office space near me” on Google each month? Well, there is a good probability your employees do, too, when they work remotely, and there is an even higher chance that they want the perks of a flexi-space when they come on-site. So, why not transform the company’s facilities into a more versatile landscape?

Some CRE professionals worry that shifting to a more agile work environment would be a nightmare. Like everything in life, designing dynamic spaces has pros and cons. Let’s dig into this space management concept to determine whether planning this shift is worth it and, if so, the key steps to do it successfully.

What does having a flexible office space mean, and what does it look like?

Definition of flexible office space

When a business chooses to create a flexible office space, they decide to provide all types of workspaces that their employees need to be more efficient and productive on-site. Based on the activity-based working (ABW) approach, these dynamic spaces include a large variety of seating options (assigned individual desks, meeting rooms, shared workstations, etc.). Also called flexispace, this work environment encourages other forms of flexibility at work, too, such as flexitime.

The main characteristics of an agile work environment

Versatility

The office space adapts to your team members’ needs in a flexible work environment. According to our personalities and tasks, our surroundings greatly influence our ability to be efficient and productive. For instance, analyzing data requires more focus than answering emails. Similarly, hypersensitive employees are more likely to book single desks in quiet zones than share a big table with distractions.

Technology

Versatility is essential, but technology, like hot desking apps, is a must to enjoy the perks of this layout. As tech supports us in our personal lives, it also does in our professional environments. These resources play a central role in flexible office space by boosting employee experience, preventing scheduling conflicts, collecting data to optimize the workspace even more, enhancing collaboration, and smoothens workflow.

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How are agile work environments benefiting businesses?

Enhances smoother collaboration and workflow

In a flexible office space, employees choose the workstation that matches their needs best according to the tasks they have to do. For example, they can book a meeting room to work on a team project in a private area with their colleagues when coming on-site. They can also reserve a single desk in a deep-focus zone when they don’t want to be distracted. This layout strategy facilitates collaboration and smoothens workflow in the physical work environment. By boosting efficiency and productivity, organizations can reach company goals and witness business growth.

Boosts employee experience

Would you like your staff to come to the office more often? When working off-site, people can create a workspace at home or pick a third workplace that answers their needs. However, their options in a traditional office layout are limited to either their desk or meeting rooms. Flexible office space offers them the same power as they have when working remotely. They can choose the perfect spot for their tasks of the day. This approach boosts performance and improves your brand image, showing you care for your employees’ well-being. Ultimately, talent attraction and retention increase too.

Optimizes real estate costs and reduces energy bills

Another undeniable advantage for businesses when shifting to an agile work environment is its impact on total real estate costs:

  1. You optimize the utilization of your facilities.
  2. You can eventually lower your expenses by downsizing your space.
  3. Having a dynamic workspace enables scale staffing flexibility during periods of growth.
  4. As your office use improves, the amount of your energy bills usually goes down too.

Hot-desking can help you reduce up to 30% of your office costs.

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What are the common challenges when adding flexibility to the office layout?

Meeting everybody needs

What if most of your staff wants to come on Tuesday and there are not enough single desks for everyone? What if some team members aren’t comfortable sharing workspaces and instead keep the same desk all the time? Meeting everybody’s needs is complicated. Not only do your employees have their own preferences as individuals, but they might also belong to different generations. Gen X and Z workers have a distinct vision of the office’s role. You are more likely to satisfy more people with flexible office space. Yet, considering your team members’ needs is essential.

Finding the right balance

Although your focus should be creating a work environment that answers your workforce’s needs as much as possible, you must still smartly plan your office layout. You cannot keep one desk per employee or the same number of meeting rooms. The office’s role has changed since hybrid work has become the norm. People tend to prioritize collaborative work when coming on-site. All these elements must also be considered to balance meeting your staff’s expectations and not throwing money out the window.Ensuring data privacy and security

When several team members use the same workstation, the risks for data privacy and security breaches increase. For example, an employee might forget to log out of the system before leaving. The following colleague sitting at this desk then has access to confidential documents. Cybersecurity management is changing as people are offered more flexible work arrangements. Keeping the physical and digital workplace safe becomes more challenging wherever they decide to work.

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What are the basic rules to start designing a flexible office space?

1. Analyze your current office space

The first step to transforming your office into a flexible environment is to analyze the current situation. Some key questions include:

  • What is the size of your office?
  • Which types of workspaces are available at the moment?
  • How is your office space used?
  • What is the occupancy rate?

All these questions give you a clear idea about what needs to be kept and what has to be changed. Office analytics are a resource at this step. Various smart office technologies can help you gather this data.

2. Discuss with employees

Making data-driven decisions is a smart and essential move. However, you can’t just check figures and start designing your new office layout from then. Your team members are the ones who will use this new workplace configuration the most. Collecting their thoughts and feedback is a must to understand their needs and establish a strategy that meets your requirements and theirs. Through this, you create a work environment that will make them thrive, enhance a sense of belonging, and make them feel valued.

3. Keep a close eye on workplace trends and think long-term

Our ways of working evolve at a rapid pace. Wouldn’t it be unfortunate to invest time and money in redesigning your office space and realize one year later that it no longer matches your needs? Also, if you plan to recruit new talent in the upcoming months, keep in mind the differences due to generational diversity. Regularly check workplace trends to minimize the risks of having to remake your workspace each year. For example, Gen Z wishes to go more often on-site than Millennials. This is critical information to consider if your goal is to hire more people from this generation in the future, as this means you might have more employees on your premises every day.

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4. Change both the office layout and the mindset

Building an agile work environment implies changing your office design and mindset too. Employees need to get used to no longer having desks and switching from one workspace to another. Moreover, it is also the opportunity to develop an entirely new approach toward using office space. A trendy workspace management concept is the idea of creating multi-purpose zones. For example, meeting rooms are not only occupied for teamwork. When none of your staff requires them for group sessions, they can be reserved to focus on individual tasks.5. Team up with office design experts

Being in charge of the physical workplace includes various aspects, from managing the CRE portfolio to maintaining facilities, fostering a positive organizational culture through office design, and much more. To create a flexible office space that enhances well-being, productivity, corporate culture, and cost-saving, teaming up with specialists is always a wise choice. They support you in determining your needs, doing the proper calculations, and developing a successful flexible office planning strategy.

6. Use hybrid workplace technology

Hybrid workplace technology is crucial in enabling teams to perform efficiently and remain productive no matter where they work. But those tools also support companies in adapting to these new ways of working and maximizing their office spaces. Agile work environment solutions and desk booking software are must-have tools for every organization promoting flexible work. Among various advantages, they contribute to improving employee experience, running your physical workspace efficiently, and making the most of the office according to your and coworkers’ needs.

How does deskbird support you in managing your flexible office space?

Supporting hybrid workforces to embrace the benefits of flexible office space and helping businesses to optimize their office and reduce costs are the core reasons why deskbird exists. Our desk booking software goes beyond providing a solution to reserve workspaces. It also features workplace analytics, week planning, seamless integrations, and more. Our app has a mobile and desktop version, so your team members can use it anytime and anywhere.

Lastly, we created a hybrid office calculator to determine how much you can save using deskbird.

Although our way of working has changed over the past few years and will keep doing so, the role of the physical workplace has evolved too. It became more versatile, dynamic, and people-focused.

Flexible office spaces meet companies’ and workers’ requirements to create a professional landscape that makes people thrive and businesses grow. With a well-thought transformation and employee-centric practices, facility and CRE specialists’ potential challenges can be easily overcome. Are you interested in knowing more about the deskbird app and how it can help you manage your agile work environment?

Request a free demo to discover a user-friendly tool that adapts to your needs.

Sources:

What is flexible office space or workspace?, WeWork;

What is a flexible workspace?, Condeco;

The ins and outs of flexible office spaces, JLL;

Flexible Offices, SpaceIQ.

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deskbird

deskbird is the most intuitive workplace solution — one that your employees will love! Available as mobile, web, Slack, and MS Teams app. www.deskbird.com

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