Employee productivity is a topic of discussion in every organization. Employees are most productive when they enjoy what they do, feel engaged, and receive recognition for their contribution to the organization. Lately, we’ve heard the buzz term “agile work environment” in relation to productivity.
What is an agile work environment?
Simply put, an agile environment means creating a flexible work environment where employees work how, where, and when they want. This type of environment aims to boost productivity by focusing on what the employee needs and providing them space to meet those needs. For example, an agile work environment may consist of collaboration space, relaxation space, concentration space, focus space, team meeting space, inspirational space, and phone conversation space.
What does an agile work environment look like?
An agile work environment may look different depending on the type of organization creating it. For example, a creative marketing firm may have more collaboration space devoted to fostering creativity and brainstorming, while a staffing agency may dedicate more space to individual interview and phone call rooms.
An agile workspace keeps in mind the individual work needed as well as collaboration between colleagues or teams. Also, a truly agile work environment offers flexibility, such as remote work or flexible working hours.
While the agile work environment may look different across various organizations, there are some common characteristics like:
- Comfort: consider temperature, comfort level of seating, work surfaces at varying heights, paint color and decor
- Flow: workspaces are easy to access, and the flow makes sense in relation to the location of other workspaces
- Noise level: is appropriate for the activity that will take place within the workspace
- Flexibility: the workspace is easily re-arrangeable to suit the needs of the person or group using it, including things like furniture, AV equipment, size and type of work surfaces, and outlet availability
The benefits of setting up flexible workspaces
As mentioned, one of the primary advantages of setting up an agile work environment is enhanced productivity. Providing a flexible and activity-based environment allows individuals to work from anywhere they choose. Providing a flexible and activity-based environment allows for a combination of focused, collaborative, and creative work leading to better productivity.
According to research conducted by talent management firm BSP World, 67 percent of agile businesses experienced a significant boost to their productivity (up to 20 percent in certain instances).
Alongside increased productivity, the other significant benefits of agile working include:
- Enhanced freedom and a sense of autonomy for workers
- Increased wellbeing, a better sense of happiness, and job satisfaction
- Better space management leading to reduced operating costs
Agile working is growing quite popular and is an attractive model for employees. A survey conducted in 2017 found that a few employees would be willing to sacrifice a percentage of their annual salary for the opportunity to work in an agile workspace. Not only that, but another 86 percent said that they would even change jobs to accommodate this preference.
Best practices for creating an agile work environment
Consider these tips that will allow you to reap the most benefits for an agile work environment:
- Give your employees options – Ensure your agile workplace has multiple areas designed for specific types of work. While the entire space should be more open, allow choices for group or individual projects. Additionally, allocate space specifically for concentrated work.
- Educate everyone – Communicate your transition to an agile work environment to your employees. For instance, share floor plans and the purposes for each workspace. Also, ensure they know about any space reservations needed or how to notify their colleagues where they will be throughout the day.
- Encourage your team to work together – A traditional office setting comes with a fixed seating arrangement, making it difficult for your team to get to know one another. An agile work environment allows employees to sit with new people. Furthermore, you could plan group lunches, games, or social gatherings to help your staff get to know each other.
- Recruit employees to champion agile office layout principles – Sometimes, employees want to hear from their peers why an idea or change is excellent. Find extroverts in your organization to try out a few agile workspace tests. Then, have them spread the word about their experience and let their colleagues know that this is a good transition.
The benefits of an agile work environment go beyond creativity, workflow, and productivity. A well-designed agile workspace will help you use all of your space wisely, making real estate more cost-effective for your organization. While this environment may not be conducive to all organizations, consider how an agile work environment may benefit your organization.