What is agile working and what are the benefits for your business?
As the UK continues to embrace the benefits of agile working, we speak to Nathan Hurley, Research & Insight Manager at Orangebox, an internationally renowned designer and manufacturer of office furniture and Layrd Design partner. He talks to us about agile working, its benefits and his tips for getting it right.
You don’t need us to tell you that the world of work is changing. Since the coronavirus pandemic, organisations around the globe have adapted to new and flexible working patterns. Having seen the benefits, many are permanently implementing agile working strategies to great effect.
But what is agile working?
The Agile Organisation defines agile working as: ‘[embracing] both the physical and digital “workplace” in empowering and supporting people to work where, when and how they choose to maximise their productivity, innovation and ultimately to deliver best value to the organisation.’
‘What work represents has changed,’ Nathan Hurley elaborates. ‘Work is no longer a place but something we do. Lockdowns allowed knowledge-based employees to be autonomous and make decisions about when and where they work.
‘It’s pushed businesses to adapt. In order to encourage people back to the office, they need to offer something that employees can’t get at home. Much of the time, that’s social interaction. At Orangebox, we refer to offices as “relationship buildings” because that’s what they’re facilitating; the opportunity to connect with other people in real life.’
He adds that many Orangebox clients are shifting their cultures as a result; not only are they creating more inviting environments, but they’re adding dedicated learning and development spaces. By providing both formal and informal opportunities for personal development, businesses will see dividends in employee skill, productivity and retention.
Photo By Orangebox
Diverse Work Spaces
Nathan goes on to explain that privacy plays a key role in high-performance workspaces. While many employees now visit the office for connection, there may also be a need for quiet spaces, sensitive conversations and confidential meetings. But traditional, large meeting rooms are becoming a thing of the past.
‘At Orangebox, we’re seeing increased interest in telephone pods and meeting booths, where small groups can breakout for discussions, Zoom calls and meetings,’ Nathan explains. ‘Privacy screens and sound-absorbing upholstery are also being used to great effect to minimise distractions in open-plan spaces.
‘But when it comes to collaborative and creative tasks, data shows that adding café-style stools and bars are great for encouraging engagement. Spinal posture is naturally more upright, which results in a feeling of alertness, while being at the same eye-height as passersby feels more natural. In addition, when people really get involved, they lean into the desk, creating in a feeling of inclusion.’
Photo By Orangebox
For businesses planning to downsize their workspaces as they implement agile working, there are some obstacles to consider.
‘Many employees want to work from home, but also want their own desks at the office,’ Nathan explains. ‘It’s a difficult situation but communication and compromise are key. There needs to be flexibility on both sides if agile working is to be successful.
‘But that’s one of the real beauties of agile working,’ he adds. ‘Flexible working patterns can give employees the opportunity to work at times that are best for them. Dividing a desk between someone who works best during the morning and someone who works well during the afternoon can ensure that employees feel like have their own space, as well as a sense of autonomy.’
Photo By Orangebox
Join Us at Future Spaces
Nathan Hurley will be a guest speaker at our Future Spaces event this summer. Meet him and the Orangebox team at Norwich City Football Club in July. Get your tickets online here.