HR Management & Compliance

How to Create an Agile Workplace and Get the Best from Your Team

The environment where employees work can have a huge effect on their morale, motivation, and performance. But when it comes to recruiting and retaining the best staff, an office’s physical design can also make a big difference for employers.

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Business app discovery specialist GetApp recently shared its advice on creating an agile workplace to fit the needs of your team, along with some insight into why this is important for the modern workforce. Here are some key takeaways for businesses looking to make their workplace agile.

Why Make Your Workplace Agile?

Research from Gartner highlighted the link between employee satisfaction and the physical workplace. This research was analyzed by GetApp, a Gartner brand, in order to help offer guidance to businesses. The survey, consisting of 800 employees from small to midsize companies, showed that 30% of employees would be more attracted to a company over its competitors if they were satisfied with its physical workplace.

Additionally, 18% of respondents said they would be more likely to stay with an employer if they were satisfied with the physical environment, demonstrating the benefits of a satisfactory workplace. Another 16% said they are more productive at work when they are happy with the environment.

Clearly, a satisfactory work environment is important, but how can you make it work for a diverse set of employees? The answer could be creating an agile workplace, an environment that complements agile workflows and is broken into several elements to support different tasks and collaboration.

Meeting the Needs of Every Style

Each employee is unique and has his or her own needs, but employee type can be divided into three archetypes:

  • The butterfly: This person is highly collaborative and splits time between his or her desk, common areas, and huddle rooms. He or she is often found engaging with coworkers.
  • The independent: This is a highly creative individual who often prefers to work from home. He or she seeks quiet areas when concentration is necessary.
  • The nomad: This is a highly mobile team member who usually sits in common areas and prefers to work remotely. This type of individual often travels for business.

In order to meet the needs of these different working styles, employers must provide an environment that can facilitate this, which might involve including individual workstations, collaborative desk clumps, and huddle rooms. This type of workspace might also benefit from partitioned quiet areas and comfortable common areas, as well as remote work and flexible schedules using cloud-based applications.

How to Create Your Own Agile Workplace

Make the Most of Unused Space

An agile workplace must make the most of unused space by incorporating common areas, quiet zones, and huddle rooms, thus meeting the needs of different types of workers.

  • Common areas—These are different from the usual break room or kitchen facility. A common area should be a space where employees can work with a laptop and could have beanbag chairs, sofas, or stools, encouraging socialization.
  • Quiet zones—For independent workers, quiet rooms can help them be productive and either be completely enclosed or have desk cubicles with a partition. They must provide the privacy needed for concentration.
  • Huddle rooms—A huddle room is essential for collaboration. This type of room should accommodate two to four employees and provide a much-needed environment for brainstorms or catch-up meetings.

Provide Natural Light

Many employees suffer from headaches, blurred vision, and other ailments caused by working under fluorescent lights all day. Providing as much natural light as possible is key to reducing these problems and helping employees feel healthier.

An agile workplace ensures all employees have equal access to natural light. Placing common areas near windows can help draw employees to these areas and make chance encounters and impromptu collaboration more likely. Using bright wall colors and glass partitions can also encourage more natural light.

Encourage Hot Desking

Many offices waste space by implementing seating plans, meaning that many desks are left unused by those who are out of the office. An agile workplace could have a hot desking policy whereby employees sit at a different desk every day, meaning desks will be used more efficiently and the need for office space will be reduced.

Another benefit of hot desking is that employees will be exposed to a larger cross-section of colleagues. Therefore, staff members are more likely to gain a wider understanding of the business and collaborate with employees from different departments. To make this work, your business will need laptops, ultra-fast Wi-Fi, and cloud-based applications.

Allow Remote Working

The days of the 9–5 office routine are long gone, and flexible working patterns are becoming the norm. Working remotely is a popular option for many employees, as it gives them the freedom to fit work into their everyday lives. For employers, the emphasis is placed on ensuring work gets done as opposed to when or how it’s done.

This type of working arrangement supports the hot desking adaptation by allowing employees to work with more freedom and helping to reduce the demands for space within the office.

Making the Most of Technology

Any agile workplace needs the right technology to be successful, and having laptops with secure VPNs and a connection to the company Wi-Fi is a good start. From there, cloud-based software can provide access to information your teams need wherever they are in the world.

Partner this technology with cloud-based project management tools, and you can keep in constant communication with employees, whether they’re in the office or not. Making the switch to an agile workplace may take some time but could have huge benefits for your business.

Mark Wiggins is a writer based in Leeds, England. With years of management experience, he specializes in staff motivation and engagement.