Now we know that Agile Working is a concept where performance and outcomes are all-important but how do you apply the concept to your workplace?
In 5 steps, we show you how to adapt your office to improve the productivity of your team.
Let those who land in the office just a few times a week touch down fast and smoothly with a communal table or small pods. Touchdown Area is needed to make any desk-sharing or Agile Working scheme function properly because people need access to undistracted space where they can work for short periods using their smartphones, tablets or laptops without disturbing others.
They are ideal for roving consultants, sales people or home workers who only come in a few times a week to have meetings or work on reports. Therefore, they don’t need an allocated workstation, rather somewhere to touch down with Wi-Fi and charging points.
The zone can be a high table with stools or small acoustic pods. Just make sure that there’s no noisy meeting proceeding next to the area so it’s purpose isn’t compromised. Don’t place it miles away from everyone else either, no one wants to feel out of things do they!
10:30 Quiet Zone
The Office Quiet Zone or Focus Room is becoming a standard component of the modern workplace. All too often employees complain that they just can’t concentrate or they keep getting interrupted by colleagues when they really need to be focussing on a key task that has to be done with a deadline looming. Recent studies have also shown that the typical cellular individual office is unoccupied around 77% of the time and many companies are recognising that this is unsustainable.
Quiet zones are places to hide away when you’ve got serious work to do and don’t have time for interruptions. Partitioned private zones politely send the message, “Don’t bother me,” while allowing you the concentration needed to be productive. Ideal quiet zones may have doors and remind you of more traditional office spaces, except that they’re generally intended for one person only. Space is being allocated according to activity as opposed to status, allowing cellular space to be booked by individual members of the team when they need it.
It’s a multi-functional space that can be used for focus work, 1-2-1 meetings or somewhere to take confidential phone calls. To maximise use of the quiet zone, equip it with network connection, power LCD screen and whiteboard.
12:00 Meeting & Breakout
So, let’s start with the cold hard facts: do you need to provide your employees with a specified breakout area? The definitive answer, is no! But, it’s not as simple as that. You see, the law states, courtesy of Healthy Working Lives | NHS, that all employees should have at minimum – a flat surface in which to consume their lunch upon. But this of course can come in the form of a standard work desk or table surface area, and they are in abundance across the majority of office workplaces.
In addition to this law, if there is no on-site canteen area where hot food can be obtained, then suitable heating facilities i.e. a microwave and kettle should be made available to all staff members, in order to be able to safely cook food and produce hot drinks. These facilities should also be contained in a sanitised and cleanable area, i.e. an appropriate kitchen or tea-point space.
Breakout areas don’t have to be specifically built for food consumption. Oh no! They can be built into wonderful (and practical) creative hubs where employees can escape to in order to generate, incubate and develop your company’s next big idea! In essence: a true co-working space, and therefore, an excellent investment in business strategy.
All it takes is a spare corner or a small alcove, combined with a smart selection of practical furniture, and complemented by the expertise of our interior design. When you have all three of these elements, building a fantastic breakout space is but a walk in the park, and the positive impact it can have on your employees social interactions can also be highly beneficial.
Sande Golgart of Regus, quoted by Forbes states that “the social aspect of co-working has become a draw as well.” Due to developments in technology, mobile working and flexible operations, co-working spaces can act as the ideal solution in order to craft productive meetings. Golgart also says that “some (people) even prefer to work around others. They find it inspiring, – more cost effective and they find that they’re able to be very productive in that environment.”
Amongst the other benefits of breakout spaces is the idea that younger generations, due to their exposure to similarly built areas via college and university environments, find these sorts of spaces to be much more intuitive and productive to their workflow.
Thanh Tan of the Seattle Times says that “Flexible hours, communal kitchens and fast Wi-Fi cater to a mobile workforce. What happens when creative minds collide in a single place? Collaboration starts and ideas flourish”. That’s what all employers desire: a workforce that is motivated, and one that can work in tangent across multiple generations.
How to Decorate Them…
Once you’ve established your breakout space, you’re going to want to decorate it. Do something different! Be bold, and make it a space that people want to escape to. Perhaps you could incorporate biophilia – i.e. bring the outside in via a variety of potted plants, green walls and naturalistic sound effects. Try our blog on Biophilia and its impact on office design for more inspirational tips.
You could turn it into a themed space with a touch of classic film… perhaps an influence of super spy James Bond, or a fantasy infused setting like Alice in Wonderland in order to create something out of the ordinary. Just bare in mind that not everyone will have the same tastes. What might seem interesting to one individual, may not be so appealing to another.
As Alive With Ideas states, “Find out what employees want and need. Spend time observing behaviour and gathering feedback. Identify which areas block the creative process and what would help to make the office a more suitable environment”. Accolade can assist with finding the theme for you and the layout to meet your needs.
Complementary Furniture is a Necessity
The most important thing to understand about breakout spaces is that it’s really the furniture that makes it what it is. You can craft a space – big or small, but if it’s not filled with furniture that is both comfortable and suitable for the size of the installation, then it’s going to be a straight up fail! Luckily, we know a thing or two about breakout space furniture.
Breakout Space Furniture: Comfortable & Relaxing
So, what do you need to bear in mind when looking for furniture to fill this sort of area? You need to consider how many people are going to realistically occupy the space. If it’s going to be just a select few, then chances are you can get away with a small number of independent chairs and a nice-fitting table. If it’s going to hold a larger mass of people, then you’re better off going with something more modular.
These purpose built, highly customisable furniture pieces allow for multiple users to comfortably occupy a set space. The example above could easily fit four to six employees, but better yet, units like this can be adapted with additional seating modules, side tables and more. There is a wide-selection of furniture options available, and most of them can be configured to suit a variety of environments.
14:00 Team Office
The team office allows easy communication which is great for project teams. Moreover, there is still always a core of desk bound Admin and Support Staff in any business and a team office configuration allows them to be accomodated at a relatively high density – space efficient. Furthermore, the size of traditional workstations can be reduced through the increased use of cloud based storage and personal lockers. However, storage by desks can store info relative to the task, it’s all about that activity based layout. If you have staff spending a lot of their day in these areas, be sure to allow for plenty of natural light to make these areas as pleasant as possible and reduce eye strain.
However, it’s important to make sure that there are some pods nearby for those sensitive conversations. Also, breakout provides a change of scenery that allows staff to unwind properly!
15:30 Meeting Area
Not every discussion can be held in the breakout area… Meetings can be between more than 5 team members or heads of departments; they can be with potential clients or key suppliers; they can be long and boring or they can be to-the-point and inspirational!
Meeting Room design is crucial because meetings need to be productive for businesses to succeed. Effective meetings are vital for teamwork and the smooth operation of any business or organisation.
Increasingly meeting room designs are required to create a flexible and multi-functional space. The boardroom may also need to be used for training or staff meetings. The small one-to-one meeting room needs to be able to function as a focus room for concentrated tasks.
So, now you know the 5 elements of an agile workplace, how each of them functions, and you also have a few inspirational ideas in terms of how it could look, it might well be time to get you and your staff a on the road to a more pertinent office environment.