Hertfordshire Roundtable: How do we design workspaces that flex with the times?

A dynamic approach to creating future-proof workspaces

In a rapidly evolving world, designing workspaces that flex with the times is imperative for fostering productivity, creativity, and employee satisfaction. Drawing insights from our recent roundtable discussion, it's evident that a dynamic approach is essential to creating headquarters that serve as magnets for staff, enticing them to "earn the commute," fostering a sense of belonging and engagement.

March 26, 2024

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How can we design our workspaces without knowing how our work practices will change?

One of the key insights from this question was around having a fluid mindset about how space will be used. This needs to start with the senior leadership team, and should filter down to the employees - they should be free to use spaces in which way they need. In addition to this, it was clear that mandating is not felt to be successful, with productivity being lower than in a non-mandated organisation.

Change management emerged a critical factor in adapting workspaces to evolving needs. If the communication and culture piece is right, it will draw employees in and empower them to do their best.

How often do teams or whole organisations expect to review the way they work?

Regular reviews of workspace practices are essential for staying attuned to shifting dynamics. Instead of solely focusing on attendance metrics, it was felt that organisations should delve deeper into cultural values and behaviours, and identify what it is that draws people in. People are the biggest asset of an organisation, so the workplace must be the right environment to support the culture that you want to maintain. So by identifying what it is that creates this culture, you can provide the spaces that people need to align themselves to it.

How do we balance provision for solo working with the increasing need for flexible collaborative space?

Balancing provisions for solo work and collaborative endeavours requires a strategic approach. Recognising that the workspace needs to be more experiential rather than a traditional office setting is crucial. While flexibility is paramount, considerations such as acoustics and spatial layout need to be thoroughly considered to make sure the different space typologies work together. In terms of design, keeping the collaboration and team spaces in the heart of the space, with the more focussed areas around the outside, helps draw people together as well as positioning the more private and focussed areas in less conspicuous and exposed areas.

Can we achieve a sufficient level of reassuring consistency while enabling continual workspace evolution?

Achieving a consistency as well as allowing for continual evolution poses a challenges. Whilst mandating does keep some regularity, it presents the risk of higher attrition rates. It therefore emphasises the growing importance of trust and autonomy in fostering a culture that will attract and retain, rather than force. The consistency doesn't necessarily need to be in the workspace, but in the effort to listen, support and nurture staff in the face of continual change. If the right balance of space typologies remains aligned with evolving work practices, there will be a feel of consistency even if the design changes.

Thank you for requesting a copy of our latest download, Woodhouse Workspace - Achieving a shared management vision for people, place and pulse - Whitepaper.
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In conclusion, designing workspaces that flex with the times requires a holistic approach that prioritises employee wellbeing, collaboration, and adaptability. By embracing change, fostering a vibrant culture, and leveraging innovative design principles, organisations can create environments that inspire creativity, productivity, and success in an ever-changing world.

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