In 2012, the Norwegian company Telenor conducted an experiment. It required a large and very risky investment for the results they hoped it would achieve. Telenor executives decided to create an open-plan office without assigned workspaces for employees. Instead of multiple coffee makers, they installed a few larger machines and made their cafeteria more spacious. As a result employees started to talk more and find better, more original solutions to business problems.
Redesigning the office eventually helped Telenor raise their profits by 20%, amounting to approximately $200 million.
How an Agile Office Influences Creativity and Efficiency
An agile office is a working environment designed to encourage easier and more effective communication and interaction. The purpose of creating an agile workspace is to provide employees with greater flexibility and complete freedom to work anywhere they feel comfortable within the office.
Back in 1999, an American game designer Bernie De Koven introduced a concept known as “coworking”. In 2005, the first non-commercial company with the office designed according to De Koven’s principle, was opened in San-Francisco. The developer, Brad Newberg, rented an open space for working with his team twice a week. They had free Wi-Fi, corporate lunches, breaks for meditation and massages. Today, Brad Newberg’s working environment is considered the first open plan office.
Apart from improving company culture and bringing employees out of their shells, an agile workspace encourages workers to create great ideas and solutions. Water cooler chats give employees the opportunity to not only socialize, but also to know more about significant business matters and to take part in making important business decisions. Creating open plan areas, breakout and private zones, and touchdown places for short duration tasks improves employee engagement.
How to Create an Agile Office and Enhance Team Mobility
The first thing is to get rid of cubicles or any other separate spaces in the main area of your office. Your employees should have complete freedom to communicate. When employees cannot visually see who they’re talking to, socializing is restricted and the cohesion needed to build a powerful product is diminished.
Second, think about a single-floor layout and take into consideration the spaces between desks. Remember that one employee shouldn’t bother or disturb another when moving or standing up. Install workstations or terminals on every desk so that employees can change seats and work anywhere they need when collaborating.
Equip your office with multiple whiteboards and TV screens around the space. This helps with the formation of specific plans and putting them into practice as visualization is one of the most important concepts in forming and carrying out business strategies.
Provide transparency. Get rid of all things that can obstruct your employees’ line of sight with each other. Think about installing glass walls wherever needed. In this way, employees won’t feel confined and will always have the liberty to observe what’s going on around them.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Years ago, you wouldn’t believe that having fun at work could help promote creativity and productivity. This is why your agile office plan should include rooms for entertainment (Table Tennis, Play Station, Darts, etc.), silent rooms that are isolated from noise and an outdoor space.
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