Flexibility in the workplace can be described as ‘the opportunity for workers to modify and adapt their schedules, workspaces and workplaces, according to their necessities, so they can be more productive and happy at work, reaching a good balance between work and personal life’.
When we talk about flexibility in the workplace, we can find:
Time flexibility: Workers can choose or modify the days they work. For instance, working fewer days, working part-time, or having a flexible start and finishing time.
Location flexibility: Workers choosing to work remotely. Thanks to new technology, people can have calls and meetings when working outside the office. Workers can typically work from home 1 or 2 days of the week.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies are asking their staff to work from home, having the meetings online and making use of programs like Microsoft Teams, E-mail or Skype. These increase the benefits of remote working, allowing us to stay connected.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have been forced to use remote working strategies more than ever before. Though this may seem complicated, it is a good opportunity to test ways of using new technology that will change the way we work in the future.
We’re going to see a big difference in the way we work and as designers, we have to cater to clients who incorporate remote working policies by incorporating flexibility into the design. Besides that, we’ll make the spaces richer and more dynamic, improving worker’s comfort, productivity and efficiency.
As designers, we can include a series of elements to improve flexibility at the workplace, like adding dynamism in the office with shared spaces, where people can have formal or informal meetings, spaces to share and discuss ideas. They can work in groups, relax in breakout spaces and share ideas with others, increasing their self-motivation, proactivity and well-being.
It’s important to combine these spaces in an open-plan office, mixing workstations with collaborative spaces, meeting rooms and breakout areas.
‘It is important to combine different types of spaces in an open-plan office, mixing workstations with collab spaces and breakout areas, to improve worker’s comfort and productivity’
Besides, one of the best ways to make use of office spaces is having shared workstations. Having a hot-desking office means that the costs of the office space can be reduced, as users don’t have to be in the office at the same time, therefore having a higher desk sharing ratio. Moreover, the office is more than just a cubicle; it improves the worker’s wellbeing and productivity. To achieve this, it’s required to have adequate personal storage system with individual lockers and shelves.
Also, standard office desks can be changed for tech-enabled desks where workers can plug-in and start working anywhere and can always be connected. Moreover, adding variety to the way we organise the furniture, mixing communal tables with quiet pods, brainstorm islands, or sound-proof phone booths will transform the office space completely.
Though it may not be possible to have three or four different types of spaces within the office, we can use flexible design strategies. Unique spaces can be created and can be used as workstations, meeting rooms and leisure spaces, using mobile furniture, different modular units whilst changing the space. This is particularly beneficial for small offices that can’t afford much space.
Lastly is the homeworking trend. It’s impact on the office space, transport and lifestyle is changing our lives and it’s going to be our new norm in the next couple of months. Offices must be prepared to have their workers connected, using programs that facilitate remote working, online meetings and daily catch-ups to ensure all employees have tasks to do and no one gets isolated.
We’re starting to implement these trends due to new technologies, that allow us to be connected and we will see this improving during the next couple of months. If these technologies are well used, we will be united, connected and happier, improving our productivity, health and wellbeing.