lowell
28 February, 2024
Flexible office design: future proof your office
Maris designer, Kate, is passionate about creating spaces that are built for people.

She says: “When we’re designing workspaces and education environments, we have to appreciate that there are multiple user types. For me, it’s all about thinking about people – that’s the most important thing about the entire job – how are they going to use a space, feel in it, function in it? It’s easy to get carried away and create a beautiful space but if it doesn’t work, what’s the point?”

This point about usability is essential when it comes to designing workspaces because it’s that multiplicity of users and uses that is defining the workplace of today, tomorrow and the future.

It’s also a multifaceted concept that combines insights, knowledge, forward-thinking and core principles to make it work effectively and future proof your office.

The defining feature of modern offices

The way we work continues to evolve. We live in an ever-changing world, and the advent of new technologies, and new ways of working mean that we continue to adapt in the way we use the office, as well as how we live our lives.

The workplace was once somewhere that everyone sat in rows upon rows of desks. Today it is a place for accessing facilities, coming together for collaborative work, meeting clients, communicating, showcasing and a myriad of other opportunities, depending on the specifics of your organisation. All these uses will also change as the individual business itself continues to evolve.

Another consideration is the increasingly multigenerational workforce. People are working much later into life and generational needs are diverse, so the office must accommodate these needs.

Collectively, these considerations lead to organisations needing a flexible office design.

Benefits of flexible office design

The benefits of flexible office design are wide reaching. A flexible workspace makes it easier in the long-term for your business to grow and/or change the way the office space is used in line with evolving working practices as well as specific company needs.

It also means that you can maximise its use through multi-purpose spaces. For example, rooms with foldable partitions, hot desking spaces and modular furniture can be effective features of a flexible workspace.

Flexible design also provides other benefits, allowing team members to work differently according to preference, and task type. This can improve productivity and positivity, ensuring workplace wellbeing by giving people more autonomy over their working day.

How do you create flexibility within the workplace?

There are two key aspects to office flexibility:

  1. Flexibility in everyday use
  2. Design for disassembly and reuse

Flexibility in everyday use

The hallmarks of flexibility include modular furniture, moveable walls and multiple seating options, such as lounge areas, bar seating, phone booths, meeting pods and hot desking settings. More specifically however, the real genius of creating workplaces that are flexible is about understanding the needs of the organisation from the outset.

Design for disassembly and reuse

Designing for disassembly and reuse (which is also fundamental for sustainability), is an important part of a forward-thinking approach to adapting your office as you grow and evolve. Knowing that your business will change over time and thinking ahead about that means allows your space to evolve easily, quickly and cost-effectively.

Flexible office design in action

Here are a couple of examples of how flexible office design can be achieved:

Multifaceted spaces in an open-plan office

In the heritage Tea Building in Shoreditch, international firm Jones Knowles Ritchie (JKR) created a multifaceted space which had clearly defined spaces but without compromising on the open plan nature of the office. A key feature was a raised platform working as a library and tea point with cosy seating areas, which could also be configured to host full-office meetings and events.

Space saving storage for an international leader 

At the new London office of JTI, leading international tobacco and e-cigarette manufacturer, many features that contributed to flexibility. Their ability to adopt a clear desk policy was crucial for a flexible office space, part of which included the installation of a central dress point with lockers on each floor so that staff could store their belongings safely.

Adapted for staff wellbeing

At Lowell UK Shared Services, they were dedicated to created supportive spaces for staff wellbeing, knowing the intensity of working in a call centre. In an impressive top-floor space with floor-to-ceiling windows, they used a range of seating from hammocks to modular sofas to create a staff lounge that enjoyed natural light, provided a variety of spaces to relax and that can evolve with time.

Ultimately, designing for flexibility is the foremost consideration for forward-thinking businesses looking to maximise their office space today as well as future-proof their workspace.

Want to future proof your workspace with flexible design for your office space?

Speak to the team at Maris