“Flexible work” can mean a lot of different things. Ranging from incorporating flex spaces in your office to managing a hybrid in-house and remote-based workforce, there’s a lot that goes into creating a flexible workplace environment that works for a specific organization and its employees.
Right now, around 5% of US offices are considered “flexible”. Ten years from now, that number is projected to grow to 30%, according to a collaboration between NPR and JLL. With 40% of respondents saying it’s very important that their workspace is flexible -- up 6% from 2017 -- according to Capital One 2018 Workplace Environment Survey, it’s evident that flexible work is a popular workplace trend employees can get behind.
It’s really easy to know you want flexible work in your office, but it’s an entirely separate issue to realize that vision. You know you want to get away from the homogenous environment in your current workplace (be that a sea of private offices or bench-like, open workstations) but you’re not sure where to start. We pulled together a list of everything you need to consider to adopt flexible work before, during, and after the entire transition.
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1. The high-level: Before adopting a flexible work environment, have you considered:
✔️ What stakeholders should be involved in getting flexible work off the ground
- Which in-house stakeholders should be involved (facilities, IT, office managers, operations teams and/or HR)?
- How involved will the C-Suite be? Are they bought in from the start?
- Will you be using an outside consultancy or agency? What will the balance be between internal decision-makers and external resources?
- How will you take employee input and current behavior into the planning process?
✔️ What type of flexible makes the most sense for your organization
- Activity-based working?
- Hot desking?
- A neighborhood-based layout?
- A mostly open or closed office with flex spaces incorporated?
- What role will remote working play? Will you need to account for remote employees being in the office or need specialized resources for remote collaboration?
- An elastic office model? How much do you want to rely on coworking?
- Have you considered what kind of employees are in your office? Flex, Resident or Mobile?
✔️ What the budgetary restraints are for the project
- Will the flexible office be a revamped version of your current lease?
- Will this project require an office expansion?
- Will you need to move your office entirely to create the flexible workplace environment you want?
- Will you need installation of new technology?
- Will you need installation of new furniture?
- Will you need to hire a consultancy or agency?
✔️ Where your flexible office should be located
- If coworking is important, will you need to be by a metropolitan area with coworking options available?
- If remote work is an emphasis, is location not as important since most employees will telecommute?
- How important are in-person client or partnership meetings? Would it make sense for your business to be close to these people?
2. The details: During the process of creating a flexible workplace environment, you should consider:
✔️ Who will act as advocates for the change to flexible working
- Specific individuals passionate about flexible work?
- The C-Suite?
- An external agency?
✔️ What change management tactics you will use
- Will information come from the top down?
- What training will employees receive to know how they’re supposed to behave in a flexible office?
- When will information be disseminated to employees?
- What channels (email, Slack, physical postings) will be used?
✔️ What collateral and tech will employees have to know how to use the new resources available to them
- A flexible work etiquette policy?
- Guidelines for each of the new spaces and technology in use?
- A conference room scheduling software to help people find the right space based on the task they want to complete?
✔️ How will you internally market the campaign to move to flexible work
- Will you host any events to pique interest in the new space?
- What messaging and language will you use to communicate the change?
- How will your employer brand play a part in the transition?
✔️ What new technology your flexible office will need
- Will you need remote-friendly technology like video conferencing?
- Will you need visitor management software for guests and visitors?
- Will you need software for room and space scheduling?
- Will you need an interactive office map or a kiosk employees can reference for wayfinding?
- Would phone booths be a worthwhile investment?
- Will you need monitors, cables, mice, etc for different types of workstations?
✔️ What new furniture you will need
- Do you just need to rearrange workstations or will you need net-new furniture (lounge couches, touchdown high tops, etc)?
- If employees are sharing workstations will they need lockers or other storage spaces?
- Does your current office have areas for private, heads-down work or will you need to invest in phone booths or one-person pods?
3. The review: After instilling a flexible work environment, you’ll need to consider:
✔️ What type of feedback loop you will have for employees specifically around your flexible work environment
- Will you use a specific channel like Slack, Jira, or email?
- Will you hold “town-hall” meetings for an open forum?
- Will the software you installed automatically report issues back to IT and Facilities?
✔️ How you will continually monitor employee satisfaction
- Will you use an internal experience survey?
- Will you use a workplace experience survey agency like Leesman?
- Will you continually meet with your internal advocacy group to get department or team-based feedback?
✔️ How you will measure utilization of desks, rooms, and other office resources to know what you need more/less of
- Will you try observational studies?
- Will you rely on employee self-reported utilization?
- Can you use space and desk scheduling software to gain data-driven insights into usage rates?
✔️ How you will teach new employees how to use your space
- Will office etiquette and guidelines be a part of training and onboarding?
- Whose responsibility is it to train new hires about the flexible workplace?
- Will new employees have access to workplace experience technology empowering them to find and schedule spaces on their own?
✔️ How you will leverage your flexible workplace to attract top talent
- Will your flexible space attract all types of potential employees?
- Will you take employer branding photos in office to promote your organization?
We’ve seen a few office moves, expansions, and redesigns in our day and understand there is a ton of planning that goes into a successful change. The challenge is heightened when it comes to adopting flexible work because it takes organizational self-reflection to make sure the right people, resources, and change management tactics are used during the transition. This checklist can help jumpstart that process.