What Is Flexible Workspace? The Ins and Outs.
By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
There are infinite ways to design your workplace. But no matter the layout, designs must address the needs of the modern workforce. That’s why you’ll find flexible workspaces in most contemporary offices.
Flexible workspaces conform to the needs of whoever is using them at any given time. It’s a space ready to support employees as their tasks and focuses change.
What are the types of flexible workspace?
Companies of all sizes have found ways to create flexibility for workers through creative desking options, space structures, and workspace design. Here a are flexible workspace types:
- Hot desks: Hot desks are available as-needed by individual workers. They’re placed around the office and used to support in-house staff, remote workers, temps, and visitors who don’t have permanent workspaces.
- Coworking spaces: Hot desks on a grand scale—that’s the idea behind coworking spaces. Coworking is a prime example of flexible office space as a for-profit model. They’re popular with remote workers, giggers, and traveling professionals.
- Open offices: The open office floor plan offers structure and familiarity, yet quickly accommodates the needs of daily work. It’s conducive to collaboration in whatever form it takes. (read more on the cubicle vs open office)
The similarities between these spaces involve scalability and adaptability. They conform to the needs of employees at any scale.
Hallmarks of flexible office space
There’s more to a flexible workspace than just flexibility. The sum of its parts is what enables that trait. Here’s what determines how adaptable and accommodating a workspace is:
- Furniture: Desks and chairs are essential, but need to accommodate how employees work. Ergonomics and mobility are must-haves, which makes pieces like standing desks and rolling chairs with lumbar support popular furniture options in flexible areas.
- Architecture: Design impacts workplace flexibility. From a small space for a few employees to collaborative space larger workforces, architecture should support space that’s easily accessible, plenty of light and depth, and built for comfort.
- Control: There’s a fine line between flexibility and chaos. Flexible spaces require governance and order—a “bend, don’t break” approach. Govern check-ins for workspace users. Create rules for maintaining the space. Make flex spaces easily accessible. Established processes guarantee flexibility.
- Technology: Ensure flexible workspaces are supplied with power and data—accessible outlets, ethernet cords, computers, televisions, device chargers, AV carts, or whatever else workers may need.
- Agility: Flexibility and agility go hand-in-hand. A flexible workspace is ready for the next employee almost immediately. Make these spaces easy to turn back to baseline and build in expectations for a reset after each user.
Roles flexible workspaces play
Office design isn’t just about the work—it’s about how that work gets done. That means giving employees the spaces they need to do good work on their terms.
Space is too precious and costly to serve a single purpose, and talent is too valuable to pigeonhole workers into a certain type of work. Flexible workspaces are a compromise and an asset.
Flexibility means your conference room is more than a space for quarterly meetings. It’s an ideal space for a freewheeling brainstorming session. It’s the staging area for a mass marketing campaign. It’s where a consultant will work for the next three days. And, between these uses, it’s still a conference room when you need it. In fact, it’s any space you need to get work done.
Flexible workspaces make a company more adaptable to the challenges it inevitably faces: workplace costs, occupancy, operational demands, and worker support. Because a flexible workspace is whatever it needs to be for whomever is using it, it instantly becomes an asset.
Keep reading: the many benefits of flexible work arrangements.
Photo by Unsplash