The modern office has become a more unified place – gone are the individual cubicles and formal, traditional designs that created barriers between employees. In their place is a focus on:
- Facilitating agile working,
- encouraging cross-functionality, and
- creativity amongst employees.
The shift towards flexibility in the workplace is long overdue. Finally, our working lives are catching up to our lives in general, and the work/life balance is being appropriately addressed. The office layout has been tweaked – we’ve seen a move towards more open plan spaces.
In the latest Condeco Modern Workplace 2018 Report found that 69 per cent of workplaces surveyed are mostly open plan, whereas just 7 per cent of those surveyed are made up of smaller offices. Clearly, business leaders are recognising the need to encourage flow and openness in the workplace. Arguably, much of these changes pre-date the move towards flexibility in the workplace,
...so how else are business leaders adapting?
Desk set up is a more recent development, with desk sharing being the obvious change. That helps to encourage and promote flexibility amongst the workforce. According to Condeco’s Workplace Report,
55 per cent of workplaces still have a fixed desk policy.
However, many workplaces are embracing a more agile approach to working, and incorporating technology into their desk systems, particularly hot desking, with booking systems and advanced technology needs.
Location, location, location
Interestingly, the ability to adapt to a more agile and flexible workforce varies dependent upon both location and generation. Certain countries appear to have taken to the concept of flexibility more rapidly or with more ease; for example, the concept of hot desking is more common in France than in Germany. Similarly, younger generations appear more ready to adapt to agility, and to demand it: Millennials are more likely to want to work in an engaging environment. For certain industries, a more creative outlook is required, particularly if the business wants to demonstrate its ability to potential clients and workers alike (think design, technology and leisure-based companies). Despite this, nearly all employers surveyed conclude that they deem flexibility as a positive, although the attitude towards remote working is slightly more mixed – presenteeism strikes again.
Communication is key
One positive effect of a shift towards flexibility has been employers realising the need of gathering feedback and creating an open dialogue around the workplace. While the use of technology to gather insight is still relatively low, many business leaders report regularly surveying employees; gaining important insight into what’s going well, and what can be improved. It’s clear many businesses expect their own uptake of flexibility to increase largely in the future, no doubt thanks to employees who seek more agility to properly manage the balance of their lives. Business leaders likely also see the benefits of reduced costs and increased productivity levels, which flexibility can easily bring to fruition.