Creating flexible working environments

Alex Worswick, group brand and marketing manager of TC Office, describes the benefits of flexible working environments and how to design them

It’s impossible to tailor a work environment to every single employee or work style – however, there are things a business can do to try and make workspace design as beneficial as possible. One of the best approaches is to create flexible working environments, which allow employees to find a working or learning space that works best for them; this approach is also known to have a number of communication and collaboration benefits, too.

What are the benefits of creating a flexible working space? One is that it creates a more relaxed setting; this does not mean that staff have less respect for their working environment, but more that they feel they are comfortable in the space, and ready to work and learn.

Another huge benefit of a flexible working environment is that it is a great way to encourage employees to come together, share their experiences and their own skills. Collaborative working is also a great way to improve learning – it takes the control and the delivery away from the manager and places it in the hands of everyone.

Social interaction is another plus. Whilst it is key that work is completed, it is also important that employers highlight the importance of social interaction; this will form the building blocks for a happy and productive workforce.

So, how you can design a flexible working environment with furniture? It doesn’t have to be difficult. One of the simplest things to do is to ensure that a variety of seating options are open to staff. This can include the standard chairs and desking (i.e. bench desking) but there should also be cushions, soft seating, breakout areas – including couches – and other choices that people can decide to sit on that day.

This helps target adults who have different approaches to working and learning. Some adults will like to feel that they have a workspace that is theirs, and that there are no areas which are out of bounds. It also gives them a chance to head to specific areas that are ideal for different types of working, such as quiet focused time, reading and collaborating.

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To really ensure that employees feel that they have had a part to play in their own working space, it is key to involve them in the process of designing their flexible environment – a message dealers should pass onto their customers. That way, they have taken some ownership and will love to spend as much time as possible within the setting.

As you can see, it is easier than many think to design a flexible work environment, and it also can be incredibly beneficial – not just to the employees working and learning within it, but also to the profitability and efficiency of the company adopting it.

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