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Trends, But Not As We Know Them! : Chapter III Flexibility


As part of the collection of blogs ‘Trends But Not As We Know Them!’ this week’s chapter focuses on flexibility.

When the pandemic hit it forced whole offices to work from home. Businesses and employees realised home working offered a range of benefits, particularly for those with Neurodiversity, where loud, open plan working environments don’t always suit.

[more details on this available in my chapter on Neurodiversity].

Below is a graph taken from the Office for National Statistic showing that in April 2022 hybrid working was still on the incline.

This data, taken in April 2022, from The Office for National Statistics shows hybrid working on the increase.

Whilst there are benefits to working from home many employers also see negatives such as a lack of rapport with their workforce.

In an article written by Stephan Stern from The Financial Times he outlines an interview excerpt taken from the Diary of a CEO Podcast where Steve Bartlett interviews Malcolm Gladwell who says

I know it’s a hassle to come into the office, but if you’re just sitting in your pajamas in your bedroom, is that the work life you want to live? Don’t you want to feel part of something?… I’m really getting very frustrated with the inability of people in positions of leadership to explain this effectively to their employees.

Stephan goes onto say

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has made more than one attempt to introduce a policy of three fixed days in the office, and has been met with resistance each time.

To encourage people back into the workplace employers need to ensure the space is appealing. Gone are the days where a desk for everyone in a vast open plan office is required.

When I spoke to a potential client, during a design brief meeting she said

The key issue is the office is like a ghost town on most days. We have an absence of people, empty desks and a lack of community.

What do we do with all that empty office space? Do we decrease real estate, especially with the rise in fuel prices. It is definitely a considered option for some, but others may hope that now Covid is more controlled employees will increase occupancy of the workplace again.

The key is flexibility!

Designing an office space that offer flexibility to suit different personalities & working styles. Some people like it quiet, others noisy. Some tasks suits collaboration, others focused lone working.

A modern, flexible office environment should include both formal and informal meeting areas, collaborative working spaces, pods or telephone booths for focused time, limiting distractions.

The new office environment shouldn’t have limitations and rules like it once had.

Not all work needs to be done at a desk!

According to Morten Meisner-Jensen, Co-Founder of ROOM:

We spend almost a third of our lives in the office, and in order to find and retain top talent, it’s essential for companies to foster an environment that empowers people with the right space to work, think and collaborate naturally… From offering private rooms to take a call and quiet spaces for meditation to fun, comfortable areas that foster collaboration, it’s imperative to think about building office spaces with different environments to maximize employee wellbeing.

At a recent CPD I attended on designing for Neurodiversity, the importance of flexibility for people with ASD and ADHD was discussed. Colour, sound, smell, touch can all affect the well-being of someone who is Neurodiverse. Offering agile workspaces spaces provide choice. The experts within the panel suggested that if we design with Neurodiversity in mind we will more likely accommodate everyone’s needs, as one size doesn’t fit all!

A carefully considered design is vital to create a space which promotes creativity, productivity and innovation. To attract talent we need to offer a culture and a space lent towards accommodating their needs, making it enjoyable to work in.

office meeting

Many suppliers are offering agile working solutions. During her recent visit to London Design Festival, Truline Construction & Interior Services Interior Design Manager, Naomi Nunn, saw a clear emergence of the trend. Read more in her latest blog here.

Hybrid working is here to stay and calls for rejuvenation of the office

JLL – The future work survey 2022

Would you would like Truline Construction & Interior Services to attend your premises to offer a free flexible survey to see how we can rejuvenate your office?

If you are interested in other chapters of the ‘Trends But Not As We Know Them!’ blog please follow this link