If you’ve been reading up on office design and systems lately you will no doubt have heard about the agile workplace.
The agile workplace is a creative and flexible space, which allows different zones for different types of tasks. An employee will enter the office in the morning and decide which desks they want to sit to complete a specific task, depending upon the requirements of that task itself. This means that quality of work is exceptional as a result, but it also means more space and a more active way of working.
From that description, it all sounds wonderful, but most things have pros and cons. Does the agile workplace have any downsides?
Possible Downsides of The Agile Workplace
You might think we’re clutching at straws with a few of these, because they depend wildly upon the office itself and the people working within it.
Resistance to Change
Not everyone likes change, so it could be that your employees, or at least a few of them, resist the change and don’t like what you’re proposing.
It’s ideal that you consult with your employees and explain what you’re thinking of doing, taking into account their opinions and suggestions too. Make sure that you give them plenty of information and examples on what the agile workplace is and why it is a good fit for your particular office. Show them the plans, and make changes if any of your staff come up with a fantastic suggestion that could really make a positive difference. Taking on board all suggestions and listening to opinions is a good way to help the transition from regular workspace to agile workspace, and helps staff get on board with the change much easier.
The Cost of Change
Of course, making any type of change, be it buying new ergonomic chairs or having a total renovation, costs money.
One of the key facets of the agile workspace is creating zones, i.e. a collaborative zone, a quiet zone, breakout space, touchdown area, meeting spaces, etc, and that means effectively furnishing and decorating several different mini-offices within your open plan space.
There’s no getting around the fact that buying new office furniture sets and redecorating is going to cost you money at first, but it’s a good investment over the long term. Budgeting, planning, and cutting costs here and there will see you through the process without spending too much cash.
t’s not impossible for a small office to go agile, but it’s better if you have more space. This means that the various zones will have more separation between them, and that the quiet zone doesn’t end up semi-noisy, when people are trying to concentrate behind their office partitions!
In this case you will need to plan effectively and look at ways to absorb noise, perhaps using acoustic panels around the quieter areas, to avoid the collaborative zone being a problem area.
Agile Simply May Not Suit Everyone in Your Office
It’s unlikely that any system will 100% suit everyone, but there could be employees who aren’t only resistant to the change, but simply don’t like it when it’s in place. Maybe they don’t understand the need for modern office sofas and touchdown areas, perhaps they much prefer having their own desk and chair and sitting in the same place every day.
In this case you will need to support those employees and help them see the positives and get the best out of the system.
Agile working is a very positive addition, with many advantages, and in some cases it may be that certain employees need a little longer than others to wake up to the real benefits.
The agile workspace is certainly on the rise, with more and more offices choosing to work I this way. Whilst setting up this type of system can take time and cash, once in place, it will be a very beneficial and productive office to work in.