How is flexible working transforming the traditional office?

The workplace has drastically changed over the last 30 years. In the UK today, 77% of organisations now provide one version or another of flexible working arrangements for their employees. These new and innovative, flexible working initiatives offer the modern workforce enhanced mobility within the workplace and outside – with advancements in technology allowing staff to work remotely, always being connected with their peers.

However, as flexible working continues to transform both the interior design and policies of the modern workplace, do these changes mean the traditional office space is a thing of the past?

Technology transforming agile working practices

Technology is profoundly changing how businesses and employees operate, with companies now able to keep their staff connected at all times through apps and advances in Wi-Fi connections. A recent survey found that 65% of companies from large corporates to SMEs are now using web conferencing apps throughout their business operations. These new technologies allow employees to work in any location that provides them with access to the internet, leading to a more dynamic and mobile workforce with the flexibility to decide how and where they work.

As a result, increasingly workers are finding they prefer agile working practices, with a survey uncovering that 53% of UK workers claim they would be more productive outside of the office. As companies increasingly adjust their modern office design and furniture to promote agile working practices, these digital systems allow staff to work dynamically, both outside the office and also in different areas throughout the building, allowing companies to reduce their total office space and increase cost-reductions.

Conceived from agile working practices, hot-desking and coworking spaces have become more prevalent within businesses, along with increasing numbers of staff working from home – helping to improve their work-life-balance. However, to support the adapting agile workforce, innovative ergonomic furniture has seen increased implementation within workplace social lounge areas, with seating boasting features such as Ethernet and USB plugs – enhancing employee mobility and providing increased choice over where they work in the workplace. These benefits allow businesses to reap the rewards of enhanced productivity, by providing staff with greater workplace wellbeing and leading to increased employee retention.

Collaborative work culture

Following the rise of flexible working spaces, collaborative work cultures have become progressively more mainstream. The agile workforce is now granted the flexibility to choose how and where to work – promoting collaboration between teams.

The need for these adaptive workspaces will only increase as time goes by, as different generations desire different workspaces. As it stands today, the modern workplace is incredibly diverse, with some companies having up to four generations under one roof – each with differing needs and desires. A report found that 56% of both Millennials and Generation X prioritise the ability to work where they want when compared with 44% of baby boomers – displaying the importance for companies to create a workplace that works for all generations.

While the modern office will continue to see a diverse mix of generations for many years, in the years to come Millennials will begin to increase in numbers with the workplace – making it essential that companies look at adapting their office space to attract future talent. Many global corporate giants design their office space around these agile working practices, with companies such as Google and Red Bull offering staff numerous lounge-style social areas to work and relax in along with dedicated working stations, providing choice for all employees.

Nevertheless, to boost the productivity of your multi-generational workforce, ensuring your office design caters to all working styles is critical.

Workplace wellbeing

Today, flexible working has diversified to support employees in many ways, from allowing parents to work from home, job sharing for parents returning to work to allowing staff with long commutes to reduce travel time. As a result, workers have begun to find these initiatives more appealing, with 70% of the UK workforce claiming a job is more attractive if it offers flexible working.

In turn, this shift enables companies to reduce desk space as their staff job share and work remotely, allowing businesses to increase the number of relaxation spaces they provide their employees – enhancing employee wellbeing in the workplace.
Typically when we think about flexible working, we think of people working from home or outside of the office. However, as new innovative initiatives begin to merge with workplace wellbeing, we see new schemes arise around annual leave and fitness.

Both Netflix and Virgin Group have expanded their flexible working programmes to allow employees to take unlimited annual leave provided they complete their work as part of the companies “policy of trust”. While, a rise in businesses requesting in-house fitness facilities has increased by 8% per month according to Hubble – displaying a change in companies encouraging fitness at work.

These pioneering modifications to flexible working are crucial in maximising the productivity of the current workforce, retaining working parents and also ensuring their business is attractive to the younger generations – as 57% of Millennials prioritise work-life-balance and wellbeing.

Summary

Companies cannot escape the rise of flexible working, and as the Millennial workforce start to shape future workplace environments, the need to adapt your office design will continue. However, the benefits of modifying your workspace and policies to promote agile work practices are undeniable, with reports showing flexible working generates up to £6.9 billion in productive working hours.

Therefore, ensuring your workplace is designed to support employees not just working remotely, but also in a variety of spaces – both privately and collaboratively – is crucial to increasing the retention and productivity of your current and future workforce.

To find out how InteriorsTeam can help your business develop flexible office space, contact us today.

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