When it comes to office layout, one term that we are hearing being used more and more is the flexible workspace. It seems to be an office layout model that is gaining in popularity across the board, but what is a flexible workspace, and is it a concept that would work for your business?
Having the right office design is critical for a productive office, whether you are accountants or graphic designers. The office design can determine the office culture, how staff work, and how they interact with each other – in other words, the essence of a company.
What is a Flexible Workspace?
A traditional office unit is usually one that is very rigid. In it, most members of staff have their own desk, perhaps their own office. Although open-plan offices are possible in a traditional office, each desk is set in a particular place, a particular way, and this is generally how it will stay.
A flexible workspace, however, allows for fluidity between desks. It might give employees the option of hot-desking, collaborating, or just using a space in a new way.
With the changes that we are seeing in the workplace with the ongoing circumstances of the COVID pandemic alongside the changes that technology is bringing into the conventional workspace, here at Boxpod, we are seeing that more and more businesses are incorporating the flexible workspace model.
Flexible workspaces will usually incorporate a mixture of features such as collaborative areas, hot desking, and open offices that can be moved around as required.
Flexible workspaces, however, are not for every business and every office. It is important to know the best time and place to incorporate them, so with this in mind, here are some of the situations when a flexible workspace is a good solution and when it might not be ideal for your business:
A Flexible Workspace is Perfect if…
… you want an exchange of knowledge
In a more conventional workplace where staff are separated into different rooms, booths, or just with their own desks, the office can lack fluidity. This results in staff often sticking to their own desk, or team, making it harder to exchange knowledge and information. This could be ideal if you are working somewhere that requires a lot of concentration and little interaction, but if the business is about collaboration and bouncing ideas off each other, a flexible workspace could be a better option.
A flexible workspace actively promotes a sharing of information in comparison to a more traditional office where this needs to be worked on.
… you want to use your space effectively
In a traditional office setup, you may find that there are spaces that are not used all of the time. Places such as meeting rooms, or desks that belong to someone who is working from home for half of the week can be a waste of space. This is fine if you have a lot of space and are paying a low price for it. However, for businesses who are looking to effectively use every inch of the space that they have, this can seem to be rather wasteful.
A flexible workspace means that you can have your meeting room, but it can be turned into a co-working space, for example when it’s not being used for meetings. This results in more efficient use of space, potentially saving the business money in reducing the amount of unutilised space that is being saved.
… you are looking for flexibility for your workforce
It may be that you are a business where some people need their privacy at times, but want collaborative working at other times. In a flexible workspace, areas can be divided off to create these different environments, allowing your staff to use the best space for them at the time, giving a lot more fluidity to the space, and helping to incorporate the most effective environment for what your staff want to do when they want to do it.
A Flexible Workspace is Not a Good Idea if…
… you are trying to avoid distractions
In a similar way to an open-plan office, some staff might struggle with a flexible workspace if they need to be in an area without distractions. By having other members of staff close by, there can be plenty of distractions within the office. Whilst the flexible workspace may be ideal if you’re bouncing marketing ideas off each other, it might not be perfect if you are trying to complete the payroll on time.
… you need all of your staff in the workplace all of the time
One of the key characteristics of administering a flexible workspace is the idea that not all staff are in the office all of the time. The model is normally based on the premise that some staff will be out of the office some of the time, so if your business is one where you need every member of staff present at all times, it may not be suitable for you.
… you don’t want the admin
There is a certain degree of admin work that needs to be done if you were to incorporate a flexible workspace. This includes issues like employees not having their ‘own space’ with their own personal belongings, a place for paperwork to be delivered to them, or a laptop charger left overnight. It can mean that staff are looking for a desk space when they get into work, or a booking system will need to be devised. It also means that it can be difficult to find a member of staff if you want to speak to them in person. For some businesses, these will be issues that they can work with, whereas for others, they may not be.
Generally speaking, the kind of business that would benefit from having a flexible workspace are those that need collaborative working, whether it is a creative industry or marketing, for example. A business that operates in a manner that needs to allow private phone calls or be without distractions, would probably benefit from a more traditional office.