The industrial workplace is no more, indeed in some cases the workplace is no more: agile working is at last beginning to replace a long outdated model.
No longer is everyone in the same place, at the same time doing the same tasks. More and more businesses are offering flexible working, are trusting colleagues to do the job and measuring on output rather than time spent at desk. They are creating fluid working environments and managing dispersed teams and becoming more agile in the process.
So, what is agile working?
Agile working suggests young people with portfolio careers, self-employed and working from home or on the go. While this is certainly one group (for whom we have a range of virtual office services) it is by no means the whole story.
Because agile working is a state of mind. It is helped by technology but not bound by it; it can happen in an office environment, but is not tied to it. Agile working practices focus on the individual, but do not ignore organisational needs.
Agile working allows staff to have input, choice and flexibility and it allows a business to develop core strengths, react to demand fluctuations and anticipate change.
It is necessary to research and plan the technology that might be needed to facilitate all this; how everything will integrate and allow for everyone to get the same benefits, however they choose to work.
Technology is a great enabler. Modern telephony, video communications, broadband, Wi-fi and cloud systems can help people communicate easily and freely. It means they have access to data and can collaborate on projects. This allows organisations to manage dispersed teams while maintaining fluidity and cohesion.
The actual space needs careful thought in terms of location, adaptability and environment. How will people get to and from the office, how many will be there at any one time and how will they feel once they get there; will they have choice in how they enrich their work areas.
The layout and design must encompass such things as ergonomics, acoustics, traffic flows, communication and task management to ensure the safety and well-being of your people. This means finding out what people want from the space, what the business demands from the space and how the two will marry to maximise productivity, health and efficiency.