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4 ways to create a scalable and flexible office space

As your work climate changes, your office space has to change with it. You can’t be confined to a workplace that doesn’t serve your business’ changing needs. The way your employees learn, collaborate, communicate and work is always adapting, so your space needs to be able to move with you. The culture of your business is one element of scalability, but there’s a lot riding in the design and functionality of your office. In your workspace, having restrictive workstations for employees will stunt your business’ growth rather than encourage it.

With scalability comes flexibility. As your company grows, more and more staff members will need a space that supports their needs. Your office must be designed with scalability in mind to give your team room to grow and adapt. You’ve probably experienced first hand that where and how you work greatly impacts your productivity and efficiency. That’s why scalability and flexibility go hand and hand; they inspire one another to create a better working environment and culture for your business. With a scalable and flexible office space, your company should be able to handle an increase in resources, workload, customers and employees without needing to change the space you’re in. If your company has rapid growth or demand, your business’ processes and systems should remain steady.

Here’s how to create a scalable and flexible office space:

Flexible furniture

The furniture you have in your workplace is one of the biggest ways you can establish scalability and flexibility. You should select furniture with a smart design and mobility so it can move around the office quickly and easily. With a flexible culture, your employees can choose wherever they want to work and who they want to work with. Consider giving them a mobile workstation that they can take around with them. You can get storage stations with wheels, shelves, draws and a fold-out top. You can put sensitive information in the draws, paper and books on the shelves, and plants or stationary on top. This storage station can be shared with your desk neighbour or department to facilitate collaboration and communication.

Choose flexible resources too. Televisions and monitors can be put on extendable brackets that pull out of the wall or desk. You can move these around in different directions and angles. These are great assets to have during meetings so everyone can have a clear view of the screen regardless of where they sit. You could also have desks and chairs that can be moved to different angles and heights. This will assist with collaboration and improve physical wellbeing by reducing eye strain and shoulder pain. With flexible furniture, you’ll save money in the long run. You won’t have to buy new equipment and furniture as your business grows and the dynamics shift.

Technology and software

It may not seem like an obvious one, but the technology and software your business uses needs to be scalable too. As your business grows in employee numbers and customer acquisition, your technology has to support this. Without investing in scalable software solutions, your business risks critical downtime that can impact your bottom line performance. Invest in facilities management technology that will report and analyse how your business operates. You can understand if there are any changes to the environment and operations that need to be improved to guarantee maximum efficiency and productivity. You’ll be able to identify areas that are underperforming therefore short of staff, or areas that are under-resourced so need more support.

Simple technological solutions like laptops, mobiles and tablets will support flexibility in the workplace too. Having these devices as well as desktops will encourage your employees to get creative with how and where they work. They can move around the office and collaborate with different departments to generate new ideas and keep the day varied. This technology also helps when your employees need to work remotely. Instead of worrying about not having a desktop at home or keeping it safe as they travel home, they can grab their laptop, mobile and tablet to set up an effective remote working setup wherever they are.

Creative design 

The creative design of your office space is the key to flexible and scalable working. Cubicles and departmentalised working isn’t the most productive way of working and can have a negative impact on your employees. Creating different areas in your office will do wonders for your team’s physical and mental wellbeing. A meeting room, breakout room, quiet space, large kitchen, dining area and comfortable seating are examples of areas you could create in your workspace. You don’t need all of them – a meeting room and breakout room are good places to start. Enabling your workforce to go where they need to relax, concentrate or collaborate means your employees aren’t confined to one room. They’ll have the space to breathe, communicate and socialise with one another.

To know what your employees need, you need to speak to them. Ask them how they like to work and what they need to support this. Don’t just follow trends and hope they work because other businesses like them. Quiet spaces aren’t essential, but if your employees would benefit from one then consider adding it to your workspace. Go subtle with your colour choices too; as your business develops, your decor preferences will change. Redecorating can become expensive so stick to classic designs that won’t date or impact mental wellbeing.

Autonomy and control

Finally, autonomy and control are crucial for establishing a scalable working environment. Giving your team the freedom to work where and how they want builds trust between employer and employee. Knowing exactly how they produce their best work establishes that element of control. They can manage their own productivity and efficiency to do what they need to do to meet deadlines and produce results.

With flexible furniture, you can rearrange the environment to suit your workload and tasks. If you need to spend the afternoon with another department, you can take your workstation and devices over there easily. Your employees will feel a sense of belonging to your organisation as trust goes both ways. They’ll take ownership of their work and be happier with a strong culture of flexibility needed to adapt to the projects in front of them.

Working from home

While a lot of these points are relevant to your work office environment, they can all be tailored to your home office setup. Flexible furniture is just as important at home. Make sure you have a desk or flat surface and cushioned chair so you’re comfortable. Your dining chair or sofa may be fine in the short-term but will take a toll on your posture in the long run. Try to clear an area of your home that you can dedicate to your work. This will help you separate work and home at the end of the day. Once you’re in your space, it’s time to focus and concentrate, when you’re away from it you can relax. Clever storage solutions will help you pack your work away at the end of the day so it’s out of your mind over the weekend.

Your technology and software are vital too. Your basic technological setup should include your laptop or desktop, monitor, mouse, keyboard and broadband connection. Consider using Google Docs for creating, editing and sharing documents online. This is great software to make sure your business is all working from one centralised storage system. Teams, Hangouts, Zoom or Skype are video conferencing software that will keep you connected to your team even when working remotely.

Creative design of your home working environment may seem tough to establish but it’s easier than you think. Clearing some space surrounding your dedicated workstation is a start. You should add some plants and greenery to brighten up your workspace and improve your mood. Try to position your station near a window or other source of natural light. This will improve your mental wellbeing and reduce eye strain and headaches from artificial light. You can add some personality to your desk with some stationery, a radio, photos or illustrations and some books to keep your mind stimulated throughout the day.

Autonomy and control are even more important when working remotely. Having structure to your day helps you remain on track to achieve your daily goals and remain productive. Your employer should support and trust you to get your work done regardless of how you work. As long as deadlines are being met and work is to the highest standard, how you work to be efficient and productive isn’t relevant.

A scalable and flexible work environment is all about providing the support your employees need to grow and adapt. A creative design will establish a stimulating environment in which your team can feel inspired by their workplace. With flexible furniture, technology and software, your business can choose exactly how it operates and where it moves next. The autonomy and control given to your team will create a community of efficient and productive employees that ultimately improves your business’ bottom line.

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