The introduction of agile office design has allowed us all to take a better handle on how we work; it provides us with the opportunity to create an environment that caters for all working styles, heightening the chances of a productivity rise.

The ways in which we work in an office has transformed, almost beyond recognition when you compare it to the last century.We are now living in the information age; everything we need to know can be found in a matter of seconds. Even as recently as 25 years ago, finding information was a slow and drawn-out process (so imagine what it would have been like 100 years ago!)

What hasn't changed though, are the buildings that we work in. Whilst being in a grand old building can be fascinating from architectural point-of-view, the environment it creates will have an effect on how people are able to work. If the layout of the interior hasn't changed much within the last few decades, you may have an ongoing issue in catering for the modern workforce.

Agile office design: The modern solution

The concept behind an agile office is that the interior must be 'shaped by the things we do', rather than the interior'shaping us and how we work, around it'. This principle creates an environment that is more in-tune with the working practices of the people who use the facility, giving them the freedom and flexibility to choose how they work. More likely than not, they will find their ideal levels and as a result, the work they produce will be better.

The issue is that many offices simply do not have an interior layout that is agile. Instead, it may have a rigid design that dictates how employees should work; this type of design was a staple of the 20th century when working practices were based upon the'production line' concept. Today, the nature of the information age has changed this; the jobs we do tend to be more creative and thus, the people who need it will need to have the room to create their best work.

So what comprises the 'average' agile workplace design?

The foundations of agile workplace design

If you're considering improving the effect that your workplace has, here are the foundations of agile office design that will need to be considered:

Open plan design

An office with an open plan layout offers good communication for project teams; boosting the collaboration and rapport aspect of the workforce. The design is also ideal for any administration workers or those performing any constant computer-based work, as it clears away the traditional 'cubicle farm environment' and instead opens up the office for them to look at something more than a tight, enclosed environment.

The obvious disadvantage of open office design is that it could potentially be noisy and distracting for those who need to focus on their work. Fortunately, this is part of agile office design, so a solution to this isn't far away...

Quiet Zones

A key aspect in agile working, quiet zones provide an area in which a person can detach themselves away from a distracting open environment or from the pressures of their usual work area, and work somewhere in which silence is golden. To encourage their use, quiet zones should be placed close to open areas so that those using them, aren't too far away from the main working area, in case they need to revert back there (to ask for help, etc).

A disadvantage would be that in order to place them next to open areas, it may require a significant re-design of the interior, which takes more time and costs more money. Then once it's built, you will have to ensure that rules about not making noise in such facilities must be adhered to. The benefits that a well-thought-out quiet zone, are incalculable though.

Breakout rooms

A breakout room (or area) are multi-purpose spaces that can be used for informal, ad-hoc meetings, comfortable working, brainstorming sessions, eating, relaxation, even to play games and to build rapport in. They provide an instant-access meeting point for project teams and therefore, should be situated close to the working areas.

As for disadvantages, breakout areas can tend to be noisy and therefore not ideal places for important meetings, unless ground rules are laid down. There is also little privacy for confidential conversions too; although this is something that can be served by any well put-together quiet zone.

Touchdown areas

Providing an overflow working space, the addition of a touchdown facility as part of an agile office design is ideal to cater for people who may visit the office less frequently. They are perfect for short duration tasks, like catching up on e-mails or undertaking a quick task before a meeting. Often,they are incorporated with a breakout area to provide the ultimate short-term,flexible working space.

The disadvantages of a touchdown area is that they will typically lack the space afforded to the standard workstation,so will not be suitable for periods of sustained work.

Resource centres

One of the best ways to open up space in working areas is by relocating things like storage, recycling, stationery and printing facilities into their own dedicated area. These resource centres would need to be close enough to the main working areas, but screened to allow for the noise they make, to be reduced.

The bottom line is that an agile office design can contain anything that the business (and its employees) need to achieve their goals. The place to start is by understanding what you need to achieve and how the design of your interiors can be influenced to reach those aims. For that, it's always best to consult a professional office design company...

Improve the effect of your office interiors, with Oaktree

If you're looking to improve the effect that has the design of your office has on your employees, why not get in touch with the expert office fitters here at Oaktree Interiors?

Having been carrying out bespoke office design work for the best part of three decades, we have gained a unique knowledge and insight into the many different styles and trends that make for,not just the most effective office interiors, but ones that will prove to be cost-effective over time too.

Throughout our time in the industry, we have assisted all manner of business operations; regardless of their own industry, the size of their company or the layout of their buildings. We have proven experience of adapting our designs to suit whatever their requirements dictate. Have a look at our dedicated case study section to see more.

To learn more about how we can help you to create your ideal agile office design, please feel free to give us a call today on 0345 21 8695. You can also send any enquiries to us via e-mail at hello@oaktreeoffice.com.

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