Organizations globally are continuously searching for ways to improve employee productivity and decrease operational costs. Agile is quickly becoming the new “it” term in workplace and/or business strategy to meet these growing needs.
What does agility mean? It can be defined as:
- The power of moving quick and easily or “nimbleness”
- The ability to think and draw conclusions quickly, otherwise known as “intellectual acuity”
Why is an agile strategy important for an organization?
- Competitive advantage– decrease in response time for work produced
- Mobility– workers don’t have to be physically present for a meeting to be successful
- Cost savings– activity-based working where employees can share workspaces, limiting wasted real estate
- Productivity – streamlined workflows, encourage and increase easy group collaboration leading to value-added activities
“If the organization is going to set a new persistent on innovation and agility, they also need to change the physical working environment.” Jim Keane, CEO of Steelcase (leading global commercial furniture manufacturer and consulting firm) says in their most recent 360 Magazine “By bringing people together and supporting them in more collaborative and creative ways of working, the workplace can help an organization achieve a stronger sense of community and higher levels of agility and alignment. This fuels innovation and drives value.” says Keane.
When designing a workplace to support agility, there are a few factors that should be considered.
- Mobility + Flexibility: Each square foot of space should have the ability to be flexible and mobile. This will allow for spaces to easily adapt to the task at hand. Having lightweight and comfortable seating pieces mixed with various means of sharing content (analog or digital) will allow for a flexible environment.
- Ecosystem:Designing an organization’s footprint to include an ecosystem of spaces that work together and are dependent of each other, in supporting the users need for getting productive work done. This includes a range of spaces to touch on all modes of work – collaboration, focus, learning, social and rejuvenation. Have you noticed when brainstorming, many people like to walk around or fidget until they find an acceptable answer?
- Smart + Ergonomic: Lounge or “ancillary” spaces are becoming more a sought after feature for many organizations to attract/retain top talent, create a more casual culture, etc. However employees are giving these lounge spaces low scores, because they do not fully support getting productive work done. Low scores equivalents to these spaces underutilized and facilities managers continuously rethinking their workplace design, the role of the office and these spaces. The solution is that every lounge space should have power incorporated seamlessly and should ergonomically support the user for extended periods of time. Every space should have the ability of not just working hard, but also smart.
- Technology:Automation and audio-visual tools enable companies to efficiently control their real estate usage. Whether it is room scheduling tools, workspace scheduling tools, digital signage or occupancy sensors, all of them have immediate effects to enhancing communication across a company.
- Organizational Support:None of the above considerations will be effective without the full support of the organization. A company will not find any of the information in this article useful, if the employees do not feel comfortable enough to experience these applications. In order for organizations to be successful with the agile strategy, we need to see the executive level/c suite participating in the same manner.
It is no longer enough to be creative, innovative or collaborative. Competition is extremely strong in most cities across the US. We compete on an external level for the best career, our choice in residence, ability to represent the ideal client or to win that new business sale. By incorporating agile workplace design and strategy within your organization, you can maximize your employee’s and real estate’s potential, reduce cost, and increase your bottom line.
Danielle Fetzer is the Architectural + Design Representative of Forrer Business Interiors. She has been in the industry for 7+ years in both interior design, management and business development roles. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org