What is Agile Workspace Design? 3 Dynamic Office Examples
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  • What is Agile Workspace Design?
    3 Dynamic Office Examples

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min read

Patrick Isitt
Content Manager
Content specialist in office design and build.
  • Gone are the days of humdrum offices with a sea of desks. Modern businesses want a workspace that fits their requirements and their brand. That’s especially true in the post-pandemic era, where over 40% of companies have shifted to a hybrid working model.

    In short, that means people aren’t tied to one location. When they are in the office, they’re rarely tied to one specific desk either. It’s changed the role of the office, from a work-centric environment to a space for collaboration, interaction and flexibility.

    As a result, businesses want to adapt the spaces they do have to be more agile. To optimise their real estate, they want to provide greater choice to their teams. But how do you balance this to create offices that actually perform?

    Below, we’ll explore the concept of agile working, outline the core components of agile workspace design and provide examples of how to do it effectively.

  • What is agile working?

    Agile working is defined by flexibility and productivity. Rather than requiring everyone to work in the same way and the same space, the focus is on creating a working arrangement that fits different roles and different teams.

    Additionally, agile working isn’t permanent. The way you work can change with each project, so there’s no need to set things in stone. The clue is in the name – businesses need to be agile to adapt to the changing needs and preferences of their workforce.

  • It’s become increasingly relevant with the rise of flexible working but it’s not to be confused with flexible working itself. As explained in our article on agile, flexible and hybrid working:

    • Flexible working is predominantly about working hours.

    • Hybrid working is about the location.

    • Agile working is the working model that enables it all.

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  • How can agile working benefit your business?

    Agile working means your business is more adaptable to new challenges. That could be as drastic as responding to economic uncertainty or as simple as expanding your sales or marketing team. Let’s say you need to bring specialists on board to promote your brand on a new social media platform – you wouldn’t need to rip up your office plans and start again if you have an agile working model.

  • This agility has several other benefits for your business:

    Collaboration – Agile working gives employees freedom and flexibility. They can come together when needed to collaborate but still have their own spaces at other times.

    ProductivityHR Magazine cites research from BPS World, suggesting that 67% of agile businesses have seen productivity rise significantly. That’s no surprise given that people can work how they want and where they want.

    Staff retention – In a study by Harvard Business Review, 59% of respondents said that they value flexibility above salary and other benefits. By facilitating flexible working, agile workplaces allow you to keep employees happy and reduce staff turnover.

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  • What is agile workspace design?

    Agile workspace design is what makes agile working possible. In turn, it also enables both flexible and hybrid working. For example, hybrid working allows employees to choose between the office and remote working for all or some of their working days. Having set desks simply wouldn’t work – there would be too much redundant space on any given day. An agile workspace typically includes hot desking for a more adaptable environment.

    It also goes hand in hand with flexible working. An agile workspace will usually include collaborative spaces and larger meeting rooms. This allows teams to make the most of the time they do have together, despite everyone working to their own flexible schedules.

    However, agile workplace design is far from one-size-fits-all. Sure, every business will have similar requirements in terms of the different spaces they need to create. However, each will have unique proportions. For instance, a professional services company will probably require less open plan space and more private meeting rooms or phone booths. Above all else, agile workspaces must be created alongside their users.

  • What are the core components of agile workspace design?

    Think about your business – from the creatives in marketing to the number-crunchers in finance. There are so many different functions that make up a modern business. Agile workspace design must accommodate this entire spectrum of different working styles and the many tasks that teams will be involved in.

  • Variety of spaces

    One key element is the inclusion of different workspaces. Agile offices tend to include breakout areas, amenity spaces, collaboration spaces and domestically influenced environments.

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  • Open plan design

    Open plan layouts have become synonymous with agile workspaces. They provide a more free-flowing environment, where people can interact as they work – rather than being segregated and restricted. That said, many will feature partitioned areas to enable privacy or independent work when needed.

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  • Operational agility

    Another core component is operational agility. This refers to the ability to adapt operations and technology as business requirements change.

    In terms of agile office design, the aim is to create workspaces that are functionally fit for every role. There’s no need for particular teams to be confined to certain spaces. Offices should be designed with technology throughout which supports all roles – promoting physical agility across your organisation.

    This includes room booking systems, video calling capabilities and VPN access to keep people connected and help them work efficiently. You can learn more about this topic in ‘How to Achieve Agility in the Workplace’.

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  • Examples of agile workspace design

    The best way to understand agile office design is to see it put into practice. We’ve picked out three great examples of agile workplaces to demonstrate the core components discussed above.

    Photobox’s open plan HQ

    Open plan offices move away from the conventional assigned-desk model, encouraging movement and collaboration. Crucially, this design decreases the risk of ‘nesting’, where teams stick to certain areas of the office and become closed off from the rest of the business.

    A great example of this is the headquarters of Photobox Group – Europe’s leading digital consumer service for personalised products and gifts. As the parent company of four well-known brands, they needed a space that was both creative and collaborative.

    An open plan layout achieves this, providing space for collaboration across four floors. All floors surround a large, industrial atrium, which acts as a function space for company meetings, industry meet-ups and other events. It’s viewable from anywhere in the office, creating an open, sociable atmosphere.

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  • Trainline’s future-facing workplace

    Another excellent example of agile working is at Trainline’s future-facing workplace. Here, the focus is on different ways of working to accommodate (and anticipate) changing needs. The key was to understand how their teams worked day-to-day, before reshaping their space to maximise its potential. Central to this was their aim to embrace a hybrid set-up.

    Spread across three floors, the new office comprises 50 types of agile workspace per floor. With individual desks, meeting rooms, high benches and informal spaces, every box is ticked for their diverse requirements. Most importantly, the space is well equipped however those requirements may change.

    All workspaces are in close proximity to the main working floors with a circulation route through the entire office. The number of meeting rooms was also tripled from 20 to 60, catering for smaller and larger occupancies. Now, there’s much more flexibility when it comes to meetings without them feeling too empty or cramped.

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  • YouTube Creative Studio’s multi-use space

    Modularity is another clever technique for agile workspaces. It refers to the use of separate parts, which can be tweaked and rearranged to adapt to new conditions. A popular example in the home are modular sofas, which can be reconfigured in different shapes. Going back to offices, modularity is demonstrated brilliantly by YouTube’s London studio.

    The space itself is primarily open plan. However, mobile partitions are cleverly used to create several different environments within that space. These moveable walls allow the team to rearrange their office however they choose. That could be smaller breakout areas or a larger meeting space.

    This flexibility continues throughout the rest of the building. Instead of a formal-built reception, the office features a bespoke curved sofa to welcome clients and other visitors. This can easily serve as an informal work or meeting area, especially when mobile partitions are used.

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  • Dynamic space for dynamic businesses

    Agile workspace design is all about creating the right balance in choice to support various work activities. It should allow employees to work at their best and ultimately create a work environment that performs.

    The environment must be tailored to the people who will be using it. Designers should understand the spectrum of work modes across different teams so they can optimise the space to suit each specific business.

  • The Age of Agility

    Find out more about implementing agility in the workplace and how your business can benefit from agile working.

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