In today’s workplace, flexibility is prized. Employees want to be able to set their own hours, avoid hectic commutes, move freely around the office and work remotely when necessary. Flexibility may be part of your company’s perks — but do you have the workspace to accommodate it?

Unlike traditional offices arranged around fixed furniture, assigned desks, or rows of cubicles, a flexible workspace is designed to provide employees with a variety of places and ways to work. Whether they need to collaborate with coworkers on a project, do a Zoom call with a client, or catch up on emails, flexible office design encourages teams to choose the part of the office that best suits the type of work they need to do at the moment.

Part of this involves removing the barriers to productivity found in many traditional workspaces. For example, project-based work happens in many offices in the same fixed location. Initial, informal meetings between a few people take place in the same area where a larger, more structured discussion may be necessary later. As projects continue, teams may need to split into small groups or work alone on their tasks. A flexible office design gives them the freedom and space to switch up their environment to do their best work, whether that means working from a laptop in a quiet spot, huddling with teammates in a casual shared space, or using a conference area for client meetings or presentations.

Flexible workspaces not only boost productivity and morale by allowing teams to work where, when, and how they want, but they can also be easily rearranged or quickly scaled up or down to accommodate growth, changing business objectives, and different sized teams. They also make it easier to design socially distanced office spaces for companies facing that challenge.

Because these workspaces are meant to adapt to a company’s unique and changing requirements at any given time, each office will naturally look a little different. But here are some key elements to make your office design more flexible.

flexible office design

Collaborative Spaces

Remove physical walls between workers and create open areas for free-flowing conversation and collaboration between teams and disparate departments. Use flexible furniture—movable tables, chairs, and stools—that can easily be rearranged to subtly zone spaces. Scout out places in the room that make good spots for gathering near large windows or alcoves and place modular coaches or ottomans there. Incorporate comfy lounges or stocked cafes into your office to encourage people to stay and relax.

flexible office design

Quiet Zones

Be sure to balance open spaces in your office with private, quiet zones where employees can go to escape the chatter of coworkers or focus on tasks without interruption. These can range from soundproof phone booths to enclosed nooks in more secluded office areas. Use freestanding screens and high-backed furniture to buffer sound and distractions in quiet zones if your office is fairly open.

Adaptable Workstations

Incorporate activity-based workstations that give employees more mobility throughout their workday. Include standing desks in common areas for those who like to stay more active and desks with ergonomic chairs and ample back support for those who need to hunker down on a project for a few hours. Give workers the option of sitting or standing with height-adjustable workstations and a place to stretch out during breaks with modular coaches or ottomans.

Shared Amenities

Enhance flexibility and convenience for workers by centralizing the resources they need to get their jobs done. This can include everything from printers, office supplies, and snacks to entire spaces like conference rooms or informal gathering spots. Ensure there are accessible outlets for charging devices next to most seats so employees can plug-in from anywhere and a reliable wireless connection throughout the office. Standardize the audiovisual set up so it can be used for presentations across different rooms and provide movable, lockable storage so employees can easily move through the office with their belongings.

Perhaps the biggest key to successfully incorporating flexible office design is paying attention to how your teams use different spaces and then thinking about how you can make those areas as versatile, creative, and inspiring as possible.

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