Many organisations are starting to move towards flexible working, making the traditional sit-down desk appear redundant. But before you decide to refurbish your office completely, take a look at what agile workspaces have to offer along with their setbacks to see if this design suits your needs or not.
The elements of design and architecture are essential in agile working. In theory, it is about creating a workplace where employees can move around and change locations while working from a different area which suits their needs better.
However, some research has also shown that shifting to agile working can be a huge cultural change for any organisation. When you expect people to shift their innate habits, you will likely come across potential challenges:
- Some employees may feel a lack of privacy when working in open spaces
- Others may think their status becomes undermined when they lose their office
- Employees may raise concerns about where they should keep personal items
- Having open spaces could be a change that many are unsure how to accept
- Those without an assigned desk may fret over desk shortages, a hard time finding colleagues, or the restriction to personalise their workspace.
To ease some of these concerns, here are 7 keys to success that can promote employee wellbeing and staff productivity:
- Executive/ board buy-in
Executive coaching or wellness coaching may be needed for leaders who are struggling to see the value of agile working. It is important to educate the management team first. When executives are seen working in the same manner as everybody else, it shows the employees the company’s commitment to the new workplace strategy.
When executives opt to work in the same open plan area and not a private office, they also get the chance to see firsthand what is happening throughout the organisation.
- Educating employees
Employees shifting to agile working for the first time require support, not only before, but after the move as well. They will naturally have some degree of anxiety concerning the changes, and clear, two-way communications will be needed for easing their uncertainties and addressing apprehensions.
All employees should become familiar with the new setup. They should also be informed about how to find their way around, find other colleagues, and where to store their work materials and belongings.
It would be most helpful to explain the new floor plans to employees, showing them tools to locate a colleague, a meeting room or even a desk.
- Share your plans liberally
Do not make the mistake of treating your plans for agile working as something secret. It is important to engage employees from all business units within the company from the start. This strategy will not only help you gather team support and productive planning, but also allow everyone to get excited about the new features they can access in the re-designed setting.
- Set up ergonomic workspaces
With overhauls to the layout, it becomes very important to keep office ergonomics in mind. It is essential that employees are given workspaces that are comfortable paired with the chance to explore a number of different working environments.
You can choose from creating zones that allow for collaborative team work or other areas that accommodate individual work. These different zones when set up effectively, will promote movement and a change of scene.
- Explore new settings
Ergonomics in an agile workplace does not limit itself to comfortable furniture alone. Instead, it expands to include other standpoints in the office space as well. For instance, staff should have access to (healthy) drink/snack points which incorporate a variety of settings such as casual seating or standing height tables for quick catch ups.
You can also look into designing appropriate neighbourhoods based on the types of tasks. Design areas for teams that need privacy and breakout space for other staff working on project work. Once employees learn about the exciting features of agile working, most will be happy to do away with their desk and cubicle.
- Instil new technology
When it comes to moving to an agile work environment, it also means taking advantage of the latest technology. One of the most significant demands of agile working is for bandwidth and widespread availability.
- Consider storage options
Different teams will have varying needs for storage in an agile work environment and with workspaces becoming minimalist and highly mobile, it is important to provide proper storage options for employees.
To ensure company-wide compliance for your proposed agile work environment, get in touch with HSG. We can assist you from all stages from office design to ergonomic assessments and comfortable computing workshops to make sure that your employees and staff are getting the best experience from agile working. Call us today to book an appointment at 1 300 889 073.
Is your office moving toward an agile work environment?
Here are a few simple tips from our Occupational Therapist and Ergonomics expert, Margery Hellman, on how to adjust your workstation to work more comfortably and to reduce the risk of injury.
- Consider the height of your chair – you may need to lower or raise it so that when you are sitting, your forearms are parallel to the top of the desk. This allows you to work with minimal strain in your shoulders and neck.
- You may also need to adjust the height of your monitor so that your eyes are level with the top third of the screen. This allows you to sit with a tall spine (good posture !!) and your head and neck in a relaxed aligned position.
- Try to avoid working on your laptop without a laptop stand for prolonged periods as this affects your head and neck posture and can contribute to neck pain, headaches and shoulder issues.
- If you have access to a standing desk, try adding a bit of standing into your day to refresh your posture. Standing activates different muscles and tends to reduce strain on the lower back so it can be a good way to get more active while at work.
- Make sure you take frequent short breaks (approximately every 45 minutes) to move away from your desk and perform light stretches or just move briefly around the office to relax and refresh your posture.
- Remember our bodies were not designed to sit all day, so to keep moving is a great antidote. Build some exercise into your daily routines. Examples include taking a walk in the fresh air at lunch, walking home or to the train/bus stop, and making sure you find ways to build enjoyable exercise routines into your day.