With many businesses either still furloughed or working from home, there has been much thought placed into the future of the workplace once things are ready to return to a version of the normality that was enjoyed before the Coronavirus lockdown. As there is certain guidance to abide by, some firms are using the opportunity to introduce new ways of working in their offices; making it a safe and productive place to work. One of these methods is agile office design.

An agile office is designed to create a working environment that is efficient, effective and responsive to what each employee or task requires; serving all the key elements that help to improve business performance, boost employee happiness and win customer approval.

The concept behind agile office design

The concept of the agile office is based ona principle that work is 'an activity that is shaped by the things we do, rather than by the environments we exist in'. This helps to create an office design that is fit around the needs of the employees; giving them the freedom and flexibility to control the environments in which they work. Being able to choose where, when and who they work with will help provide a physical and mental comfort; likely providing a boost to their productivity levels.

The attribute at the heart of any agile office design is flexibility.Rather than having employees sitting at the same desk every day, agile working allows them the opportunity to work where they like; whether that's in a different kind of workspace, with different people or even remotely from home.

It's remote working that the Coronavirus lockdown has brought into focus; so let's take a look at how the office will change because of this increased agility in the workplace.

How remote working will change the post-COVID office

When thinking about the return to work,there has generally been two schools of thought on how the space should be adapted. There are those who think that there will be a need for larger office space to accommodate social distancing, while others believe there will be a move towards smaller offices, as remote working will take precedence. Let's take a look at what each of these entail:

Larger office fit outs to cater for social distancing

Government guidelines on social distancing,providing employees with peace of mind and the need to reconfigure shared spaces inside the workplace are leading some businesses to think that they require more floor space than what they have currently. Whilst initially, government directives need to be followed to ensure that the space is the right size and shape for the people it will be hosting, there is a medium-to-long-term question to be pondered here too; how much space will actually be required before we ask what is the best use of that space?

Some businesses will have a workforce that will need to be present in the same office environment to fulfil their work requirements. So to bring all employees back operating at their best, increased space will be a necessity. Conversely, some businesses will have discovered that staff can work well from home, so the space-saving that's made can be used for something different; areas to boost the collaboration of employees or facilities to create a community amongst the workforce, for example.

New Office Meeting Pods For Use In Agile Office Design From Oaktree Interiors

Less WILL be more for remote workers

Our experiences of working from home indicate that moving forward, more of us would welcome a 'blended approach' to our working styles; using home working for some tasks and the office for the more social and collaborative activities.

Despite home working being thrust upon us,the general consensus has been that home comforts haven't made a major impact on productivity levels. So if home working becomes a regular and planned activity post-COVID, improved technology in the office will accommodate remote working; this will help productivity to reach the same levels as before (if not exceeding them). This boost will justify a business encouraging their employees to work from home more; reducing the need for space in the office. Perhaps that space can be re-purposed for those social and collaborative activities?

Maintaining the blended approach

For the next year at least, the blended approach of combining remote and physical office working will remain for the majority of the world's businesses. Those who can, will continue to work exclusively from home in the medium term; moving on to divide their time between the home and office in the long-term.

It's only when a business reaches the long-term stage that they will be able to get a better reading of what their space requirements will be going forwards. The amount of time employees spend in the physical office will be ascertained and it's only then that a firm assessment can be made. Ultimately, as flexibility is the overriding attribute of an agile office design, the method is well-placed to treat any and all changes that need to be made in the short,medium and long-term.

And this is where the Oaktree team can help.

Oaktree Interiors: Expert office design solutions

Here at Oaktree Interiors, we are currently working with businesses to prepare for them for the return to work and the medium-to-long-term future after that. We can work with you create a safe working environment; planning outworking areas to abide by government guidelines, identifying employees and roles that may be better suited to remote or office working and effect changes based on their requirements where needed.

Please feel free to browse our website to learn more about our services. Our case studies section, in particular, is a great example of the different kinds of work we are able to carry out; from new office designs, fit outs, relocations and more. Have any questions or want to make an enquiry? Give us a call on 0345 21 86955 or send an e-mail to hello@oaktreeoffice.com
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