Despite often being used interchangeably, the terms agile working and flexible working refer to separate styles of work, requiring different kinds of office design and infrastructure. We explain the difference between hybrid, flexible and agile working, what each looks like with insight from Oktra Creative Director Dominic Dugan.
We define agility in the workplace, by considering the ways of working that support it and typically this involves agile working, flexible working or hybrid working. There are a lot of similarities between the working models as well as the terminology used to describe them. To make things simpler, it is possible to think of these 3 working models as the how, when and where.
Hybrid working is the combination of working in the office and working remotely.
The working week will typically be split as 3 and 2 – with 3 days in the office and 2 days remote. This split is expected to be different for each business but workers are expected to work from more than one location during the week.
The aim for hybrid working is to give people greater flexibility and control over their working patterns. This will mean that people will be spending less time in the office, which will see the office evolve to support a more transient workforce.
The defining feature of a hybrid office is how it is occupied by staff and as occupancy rates will fluctuate on a day-to-day basis, the office layout and furniture will reflect this. For a lot of companies, shifting to hybrid working means they can reduce their space requirements.
Fixed desk positions will still be available in hybrid workspace but these will typically be hot-desks and only be bookable through a desk-booking system. A variety of spaces such as touch down points, shared open areas and quiet areas that support video calling will be prioritised as they are best suited to a transient workforce.
As headcount will change so frequently, there is still an importance on having good acoustics, storage space and adequate meeting rooms with VC functionality to connect with colleagues or clients who are working remotely.
Flexible working is a term whose definition has shifted slightly with use over the years, especially along with the recent rise in hybrid working. Most often, flexible working refers to the arrangements made between employer and employee to allow for flexible working hours. However, offering flexible working also means that you can accommodate employees with different access needs, and who might prefer remote working or have childcare responsibilities. This fluidity is why definitions of flexible working often overlap with those of hybrid working models, which allow for a balance between remote and office-based working.
A flexible office space features multiple different working environments, from traditional desking to secluded phone booths and meeting rooms designed for digital meetings with remotely-based colleagues. Like workspaces built to support a hybrid working model, collaborative space and larger meeting rooms are a crucial part of flexible workspace design. These spaces ensure your teams have the resources to exercise their full creative and collaborative when they are together in one place. Our project with Crowe UK LLP is a great example of the way flexibility can be built into your workplace.
Flexible working is about allowing room for employees to tailor their working schedules to their working styles, which means greater engagement, improved employee wellbeing and better productivity for your business.
Businesses that adopt an agile working strategy are built to actively support and encourage a dynamic work environment and daily working experience. While this can also include flexible working hours, agile working is geared towards breaking down traditional barriers between staff and their preferred ways of working, enabling staff to work at their best and most efficient.
Our agility guide outlines the benefits of adopting agile working practices as part of your business strategy; agile businesses are able to respond rapidly to change, agile workplaces maximise the flexibility of your office floorplan as well as offering an opportunity for space rationalisation and offering agile working practices attracts new generations of top talent.
Agile workspaces, like our project with the Photobox Group, often include easily customisable features in order to ensure a fully futureproofed office space. Agile offices also tend to include a wide variety of workspaces, especially breakout areas, amenity spaces, collaboration space and domestically-influenced environments. These types of spaces are designed to support multiple working styles and optimise employee wellbeing and productivity. Behavioural design features such as hot-desking also contribute to a healthy agile working environment.
Agile working solutions aim to create a dynamic work environment where your employees stay alert, engaged and are less likely to sink into entrenched patterns of inefficiency.
Dominic Dugan, Creative Director at Oktra, explains that it’s “virtually essential for businesses to be flexible in today’s market. As for agility, an agile workplace is a healthy workplace: by creating the right balance in choice to support various work activities, you are offering your employees the opportunity to work at their best.”
While flexible working refers primarily to flexibility around working hours, agile working goes beyond that and focuses on removing boundaries traditionally placed between staff and their goals, in order to make your business as adaptable and efficient as it can be.
Hybrid working will require a hybrid workplace, but what does that look like? Every business will approach hybrid working differently, our guide will provide with key considerations ahead of making any workplace decisions.download now