Tag: workspaces

The world over, savvy businesses are rapidly moving beyond shared desks to flexible workspaces, which is having a profound effect on job satisfaction and staff turnover.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says: ”The hot desk concept is on the wane.

“Many more people have higher expectations for their working lives now want to be able to work in a more flexible way. Offices are adapting to meet that need. A bonus and a pat on the back is no longer enough to retain staff.”

Recent research by a UK social research charity The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that almost half the UK workforce would like the opportunity to work in a more flexible way. Job search firm CareerBuilder’s research revealed that 56% of employees who describe themselves as satisfied in their jobs cited work/life balance as a key factor.

Only 39% cited salary as the root of their job satisfaction.

Said Andrews: “Rather than setting up rows of traditional desks, each with their own power point and telephone, firms should consider shared spaces with work benches and social hubs where staff can work in a group or on their own in a more informal setting.”

Companies are seeing rewards from a more flexible approach. US retailer Best Buy adopted flexibility at its headquarters, resulting in a reduction in staff turnover of 45%.

“As technology develops to enable access to corporate systems, services and applications from any location at any time, employees are increasingly questioning the need to sit at a particular desk in a specific office at set times each day,“ Andrews noted.

The future of flexible working can be divided into three areas – space, location and time.

Flexible space

Flexible work spaces have the advantage that they don’t “belong” to any individual or team, meaning staff are less likely to get territorial over a particular place. They are also a great use of space for businesses looking to get the most value out of building costs, as they can be used in different ways – from a short meeting to an employee needing to focus on a particular project away from their team.

A clear-desk policy is a must when considering any of the above, ensuring that staff don’t reserve a certain seat or desk even when they’re away from an office.

Flexible location

Remote working is being embraced by many businesses to allow staff to work while travelling or offsite. Whether it’s letting staff head home after an external meeting to carry on working, or a more formal arrangement enabling workers to be at home for certain days per week, employees are increasingly demanding these opportunities. Enterprises that fail to offer flexible working policies and options will soon find they are unable to compete with larger companies when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent.


The most radical of the three options, but it’s one already widely practised by micro businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. However, we have yet to see a real shift to flexible hours among larger enterprises.

“Most companies expect their staff to work set days and hours, even if they happen to be working at home or from a hot desk. As offices decrease in both size and number of people on the premises at any time, as more of us choose to work remotely, so the need for staff to all be working the same days and times decreases,” said Andrews.

The most forward-thinking firms will start considering roles and functions in their organisation by employees working their own chosen hours – whether that’s compressed hours, weekend or night-time working – rather than those dictated by the business.

It might be that only one or two of these three options are feasible for your organisation at present, but for all firms it is worth assessing pilot programmes to try out the trio of different

Such is the extent of “human spam” – the endless interruptions from colleagues – that many offices are now creating “do not disturb” zones so people can get quality work done.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, workplace specialists who consult across Africa, says it is increasingly common for companies to set up zones or rooms where absolutely no noise is permitted.

“They are essentially filling stations for the mind. We hear from companies than many people complain of only being able to get work done after 5pm when everyone else goes home. People try and work but find it hard to do more than a few minutes continuously because they are interrupted by the phone ringing, people watching funny videos on Facebook, other colleagues coming over to ask questions or the general hullabaloo of the office.”

Trim says it is absurd that so many people commute in to an office specifically to work and then are only really be able to get down to it once colleagues had gone home.

“We’ve also seen a trend in people taking work home to they can work in peace.”

To counter this and enable greater office productivity, Trim says they have been installing “quiet zones” which are reminiscent of old fashioned libraries in their rules.

“Typically this would be a room, a booth or an area where no talking, no cell phones or other disturbances are allowed. They are designed for when people really need to knuckle down and get work done free from the human spam of colleagues.”

Trim says they have designed and installed more than a dozen quiet zones this year alone and expect to see the number rise in the years ahead.

She notes that they are not intended to encourage some people to permanently work in them but rather provide a place for short, intense period of work where concentration and thinking is needed.

“Companies have noted that these zones improve productivity because someone can go and knock out a particular job in an hour say. The same work in the general office area often takes three or four times as long because of all the interruptions.

“But it’s more than that. The quality and accuracy of work tends to be higher too.”

Trim also notes that it also seemed to be a boon for keeping colleague relationships sweet: “Instead of sitting at a desk fuming because someone won’t keep quiet, a worker can simply slip away to a quiet space.”

She adds than quiet spaces are “plug and play” – completely ready for work.

“Typically, have good Internet connectivity, clean uncluttered worktops and calming, pared down furniture.”

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