How to decide if a flexible office design is right for your business

How to decide if a flexible office design is right for your business

A flexible office design cultivates an environment which implements a new kind of employee/employer and coworker interaction. As a business owner, it’s up to you to decide if this new wave of office culture is something that would benefit or detract from the progression of your business. This design promotes openness and comfort in the office, removing the structure of assigned desks, closed doors and cubicles. Those things are often replaced with comfortable seating, and freedom for office workers to move around the space as needed. It encourages open conversation and spontaneous collaboration, which can be an asset to a business. Whether you are deciding how to design a new workspace for your business or are interested in making some changes to an already set office space, it’s important to ask yourself several questions that can help determine if a flexible office design is the right move for you.

    1. What is a flexible office design?

      Flexible office design encompasses an idea rather than a specific set of rules in creating an office environment. As a matter of fact, it breaks the rules and ideas that have governed most traditional office spaces for many years. It’s a design that is just what its title implies, flexible. It literally breaks down barriers of an office, removing closed off doors, high walled cubicles, assigned desks and strict workspace formats. Comfort and communication are the foundations of this kind of office flow. Employees are given easy access to each other as well as their employer. Some examples of this kind of environment include but aren’t limited to:

      • White boards, tables and equipment on wheels for easy mobility
      • Couches and lounge seating areas
      • Open floor plans with the ability to sit or work anywhere
      • Soundproof areas for private work
      • A more intricate part of this design encourages remote work as well, giving employees the option to perform tasks from their personal devices outside of the office itself.
    2. What kind of office space do you have to work with?

      As a business owner it is vital to be realistic about the office space and budget you have to work with. If you already have an office, examine it carefully. Is there an area to cultivate this new environment? Do you have access to alternative seating and equipment or the budget to purchase them? Perhaps your office space is already designed with several closed off areas. In this case you must consider if there is any one area you could convert to embrace this interaction. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t incorporate all the aspects of flexible office design, small changes can have a large impact. Some businesses even create a hybrid of flexible and traditional office design, implementing characteristics of both.

    3. What kind of employees are working at your business?

      At the end of the day, no idea applies to everyone. You must know your employees and what motivates them. No two people are exactly the same just as no group of employees are exactly the same. While you are sure to have an eclectic pool of personalities working with you, you need to determine if you employ the type of people that would overall feel happier, healthier and more motivated to be productive with a flexible office design. Some employees may find themselves uncomfortable and overexposed without the security and privacy of their individual cubicle. If this is the case, a flexible office design could cause a decrease in morale. Only you can determine this through observation and honest communication with your employees.

    4. What type of business do you have?

      If you have a business that thrives on collaboration and communication, this could be the perfect fit for you. A flexible office design cultivates the exact environment needed for those elements to thrive. When employees can easily bounce ideas off each other and communicate openly and efficiently, your business could see growth. Does your business require this kind of collaboration often? Do your employees get excited about the freedom this brings to their assignments and group work?

    5. What are the disadvantages of a flexible office design?

      There are some criticisms regarding flexible office design.

      • Higher risk of spreading illnesses – Having an open floor plan with no barriers and increased interaction can create an environment for viruses and germs to spread more easily among employees.
      • Some believe it cultivates low social status through the lack of privacy, removing any motivation for advancement. Everyone, no matter their role in the business, seems on the same level. Depending on your perspective, this could be positive or negative.
      • More distractions – a lack of privacy can be distracting when trying to finish personal work, especially if others are collaborating nearby. This can all lead to an overall decrease in productivity.
    6. What are the benefits of a flexible office design?

      Without a doubt, there are clear benefits to this environment.

      • A flexible office design can be an inherently cheaper option when choosing an office space and creating its interior. You can fit more employees in the same area without having to provide cubicles or private offices, making it a more cost-effective option.
      • This design encourages open collaboration and impromptu discussions.
      • It can offer a relaxing environment that appeals to more individuals. Your business will have no barriers to open communication and your employees could find themselves with higher morale due to the comfort and overall freedom it provides.

      These elements are becoming more valuable to a new generation of workers than ever before.

    We are living in a new world of business where the rules are changing, and ideas are expanding. You are not limited to a specific format as a business owner and are free to create the business space that best reflects what you want your company to be. That is what you must do. Ask yourself these questions, weigh the benefits and negatives and ultimately decide for yourself if a flexible office design is right for your business.

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