With more businesses moving away from the traditional 9-5 working day, so too has the need for a conventional office space.

Many businesses are looking at ways to enable staff to work in a more flexible way, offering flexible working hours, opportunities to work from home, part time positions and shared job roles.

With this new flexible working comes the need to review working space for employees and assess whether the design still works, or if changes need to be made.

It might be that you can make savings simply through reorganisation, creating a working space which is flexible, and therefore meets the flexible working patterns of the team.

At MovePlan, we are experts at supporting businesses through the challenge of change in the workplace. Here are our top tips on how to change your office environment to create a flexible working space to suit both business and staff needs.

Set up hot desking

According to research from Vodafone UK, the UK could save £34 billion by freeing up desk space and encouraging flexible working. Using shared workspaces, or ‘hot desking’, and enabling employees to work remotely, saves businesses on property and desk costs, whilst also encouraging idea sharing and building a sense of community. The report suggests that tying an employee to one location in an office could reduce opportunities for collaboration and team working. If numerous staff are working part-time hours, or different hours to each other, it may be possible to move to hot desking.

It might not be popular at first, because people tend to like having ownership of their own space and become naturally territorial over it. However, if handled with sensitivity it can encourage collaboration and creativity, while ensuring office space is used more productively. This is particularly crucial for businesses which have expanded, and might be considering a relocation. Having a look at the space already available might take away the need for a costly move.

Sitting at a different desk each day enables staff from different teams to interact, share ideas and build professional relationships which might otherwise not happen. It helps remove cliques and break down the barriers associated with the hierarchy of roles.

Highlight the benefits to staff before introducing it, and ask for their feedback, which could encourage them to get on board if they feel involved and valued. At MovePlan, we place a strong emphasis on communication and diplomacy, ensuring that change results in minimal disruption and leaves everyone happy.

Offer a variety of places to work, rather than just desks, removing the competition to sit at the ‘best desks’ each day. With sofas for small group meetings or one-to-ones, quiet areas for those who need to concentrate and booths or rooms for private conversations, it will encourage staff to use the office in a more flexible way.

Offer staff somewhere to store personal belongings such as lockers, or provide an area which can be personalised to include photos or awards, which might have previously been displayed on individual’s desks.

Furniture

 If you are asking staff to sit somewhere different each day then you need to ensure that furniture is adjustable to suit their needs. This will help staff feel relaxed and comfortable wherever they are working, which is important for their health and wellbeing. Chairs with adjustable armrests and backs, foot rests, fans and adjustable screens are just some of the things you might want to take into consideration.

Cubicles or panels are often used in offices to create private space; however, these can segregate an office and look old-fashioned. Instead consider choosing more modern furniture such as sofas with high backs which can be positioned to create privacy.

Don’t forget storage. Some staff will have too much paperwork to move from desk to desk or store in a locker, so make sure they have adequate space to file, which is secure and accessible. At MovePlan, we can help with reducing filling space, whether you are relocating or need to create more space in your current location.

Set up a booking system

 You might want to consider setting up a booking system for your office, to enable staff to request the use of a particular room, desk or space at a certain time and day. This will enable your workspace to be used efficiently, taking away the stress of not being able to find a suitable location for a team meeting or appraisal, and offering reassurance to those who might want to sit in a particular place depending on their needs for that day.

Seek external support
At MovePlan, we provide resources and knowledge to assist organisations through a workplace transition, from the early stages of planning to the final implementation.

When there are not enough hours in the day or the experience does not exist in-house, we bring expertise, a trusted methodology and a reliable solution. If you are considering making your organisation more flexible in the way it works, we can help ensure this goes smoothly, eliminating the risks involved with change and maintaining business operations throughout.