Work is fundamentally different than it was 20, ten or even five years ago. Fueled by technological advances, cultural and economic trends and a pandemic, businesses need to work smarter and faster to accomplish more in less time

Now, organizations need an agile workplace culture that prioritizes flexibility, adaptability and speed. In short, they need an agile workplace that responds to the ever-changing needs of their business.  

Here at Egyptian Workspace Partners, we know agility can be a difficult concept to comprehend (and master), which is why we're here to educate you and walk you through the process of transforming your office into an agile, flexible workplace.

In this article, we'll break down exactly what agility and flexibility are, why you should care about these concepts and how you can successfully design for agility and flexibility in the workplace with these four simple tips. 

Agility & Flexibility in the Workplace: By Definition

What is Agility?

People, Place & Technology

Agility is your organization's ability to move quickly and easily. It's not just a new work process or a new workplace, but a fundamental change in the entire work experience.

Agility takes into consideration the wide-ranging needs of the multi-generational workforce. It provides them with opportunities to carry out tasks in the workspace that best suits their needs.  

To create an agile workspace, business leaders must think holistically about three elements: people, place and technology. These elements work together to foster an agile workplace culture that prioritizes speed, innovation and employee wellbeing

What is Flexibility? 

Workplace flexibility is also about bringing people, place and technology together, but in a way that focuses on the willingness and ability to adapt to change, particularly in regard to how and when work gets done

How to Design for agility & flexibility in the workplace

1. Provide places where people want to work

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Now more than ever, people want flexibility at work. In a post-COVID world, they know they can be productive anywhere, not just at the office. They want more control over when, where and how they get their work done, whether in the office or at home. 

The role of the workplace is constantly evolving. According to the Future of Workplace study by Cushman & Wakefield, 73 percent of the workforce believe their company should embrace some level of working from home. 

Going forward, the workplace will no longer be a single location but a broad ecosystem of spaces, both virtual and physical, to support employee wellbeing, strengthen cultural connection and foster creativity and innovation. 

When employees have access to an ecosystem of spaces, they have more choice over how they work. They're likely to be highly engaged and productive because they can choose from more spaces to get their jobs done and build personal connections.

Design Considerations

  • Offer an expanded variety of settings to help employees feel supported in their work
  • Install a room scheduling system like Crestron Room Scheduling or Steelcase Room Wizard so users can easily book space to focus or collaborate
  • Incorporate separate zones for individual, team and organizational needs
  • Provide seamless creativity between spaces to support the exchange of information and experiences from tools-to-tools and space-to-space

2. foster creation & collaboration with flexible furniture solutions 

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High-performing teams are under pressure to move faster than ever before. These teams are constantly collaborating, generating new ideas and solving complex problems to drive innovation and growth. 

To keep up with the pace, agile teams should be able to change how they work over time. They need the flexibility to change their day-to-day activities and reconfigure their workspace to be whatever they need, as soon as they need it. 

Flexible furniture solutions, like architecture, furniture and technology, allow teams to adapt their space as fast as possible. All the pieces work well on their own, but just like teams, they work better together

For example, teams can rearrange tables and whiteboards to create dynamic neighbors. They could even divide the office space into smaller, private breakout areas to focus, gather ideas or brainstorm. 

Design Considerations

  • Install modular walls that provide you with the flexibility to reconfigure your workspace and adapt to changing business needs and potential disruptions 
  • Incorporate mobile furniture solutions like Steelcase Flex, so you can easily and quickly rearrange desks, tables, carts and markerboards on short notice 

3. Design for distributed teams with technology

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As people return to work in the post-pandemic world, companies are implementing hybrid in-person and remote work strategies to keep employees safe and support a better work-life balance. 

It's for this reason that technology is absolutely critical to achieving workplace agility. Technology may help you get the most from an agile work environment, but getting it wrong can actually slow people (and distributed teams) down. 

The faster technology comes out, the faster you need to figure out how to bring it into the business. The best way to do this: design a workspace that improves the experience people have with technology, even if they're working remotely.

Integrated technology can support everything from information sharing and content creation to effective collaboration for agile teams, so they can deliver faster results, build trust and innovate more quickly. 

Design Considerations

  • Choose a conferencing solution like CrestronFlex with touch-screen capabilities and the ability to collaborate on any platform for seamless collaboration  
  • Use similar tools and technology controls in all spaces, both on-site and at home, to help distributed teams collaborate and communicate effectively  
  • Install videoconferencing solutions and collaboration tools onto all employee desktops, laptops and mobile devices  
  • Consider camera and microphone placements carefully, so all users can be audible and stay on-camera without disrupting the flow of information  
  • Provide co-creation tools, such as large-scale collaboration devices, that make ideas visible and allow everyone to contribute to and interact with content  

4. Maximize square footage with a resilient real estate strategy 

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A business's employees and its real estate are two of its greatest expenses and assets. As real estate costs continue to rise, organizations are looking for ways to leverage these assets by developing a resilient real estate strategy. 

According to Steelcase, resilience is the ability to adapt to changed circumstances. It supports an organization's core purpose, brand and culture by shifting fluidly while maintaining integrity. In other words, it's all about real estate optimization

So, what exactly is real estate optimization? Generally speaking, it's making effective use of commercial real estate to maximize square footage, reduce overhead costs, improve efficiency and improve employee engagement and productivity. 

When a real estate strategy embraces real estate optimization, it can help augment people's interactions at work. Most importantly, it can also help companies build a workplace that flourishes in even the most challenging situations. 

Design Considerations

How Can You Achieve Agility & Flexibility in the Workplace? 

Making a move to an agile work environment is no easy task. It may be an exciting change of pace, but it also presents challenges because you're asking people to change habits, daily routines and processes they've likely followed for years. 

The good news is, an agile workspace can be whatever you want it to be. You can tailor it to your specific wants, needs, business requirements and whatever else your employees need to be successful. 

The best place to start a conversation about agility is to define what it means for you and your organization. Once your team is aligned, you'll be one step closer to creating a flexible, agile work experience that adapts to constantly changing needs. 

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Brett Baltz

Written by Brett Baltz