Work isn’t confined to your desk, yet the traditional desk remains the superstar of workplace furniture. Check out our four must-have pieces for an agile office that deserve a little limelight.

Miles McLeod

Workplace Consultant

30th Mar 2020

What’s an agile office?

An agile office empowers employees to work where and how they choose. The belief that work is an activity not a designated place is what underpins the entire philosophy. When we design an agile office, we emphasise the need for flexibility and ease of connectivity - and this is where furniture comes in.

Investing in a few key pieces can support the cultural and behavioural shift needed to create an agile office. The perfect mix accommodates the whole spectrum of working styles. There are spaces to have meetings, find inspiration, concentrate, relax, focus and collaborate.

Private booths

In the average office environment, employees are interrupted every 40 seconds when working at their computer. This is certainly one of the pitfalls of open plan office design; not only are you contending with phones ringing and people chatting, you can be approached at any time. The solution? Giving employees a place to go where they can work quietly without the need for headphones.

We recommend including a handful of private working booths in your furniture mix. There are so many great pieces available you’d be hard-pressed not to find some that perfectly match your design. For Sage Publishing we even created a ‘corridor’ of these one-person booths making sure there’s no shortage of places to concentrate.

Meeting pods

Seating pods are great for encouraging employees to move around the office. No agile office is complete without a few of these as alternative meeting spots. Whatever you call it in your team - a huddle, scrum or brainstorm - every organisation needs space that offers a change of scenery for group working. Offering plug-and-play tech-enabled furniture options means employees can pick up, find an empty spot and continue collaborating seamlessly.

Take the Royal Navy’s furniture choices as an example. We designed and built a four- to six-person meeting pod in the naval theme of the office. The pod has plush, comfy seating and is almost fully enclosed to keep noise from travelling too far. But, most importantly, the nook is connected to power and data so it works even harder than your average table and chairs. We also installed a built-in screen for presentations and video-conferencing.

Relaxed spaces

We’re big believers in creating spaces that mimic domestic surroundings, since inspiration is proven to strike when you’re relaxed. When you’ve spent the morning sitting at a stiff desk and chair, there’s nothing better than sinking into a comfy couch or popping down at an open kitchen-style workplace.

Every agile office needs somewhere for employees to regroup. So why not make your soft seating area a focal point of the design? Create a home-away-from-home lounge with sofas or armchairs, a few ottomans, a lamp and some pot plants. Homely spaces, like the ones we designed for Electronic Arts (EA), gives employees somewhere to take a breather within the office environment. We know this helps reduce workplace burnout and increases overall productivity.

Lockers

Your agile workplace will be a flop without storage. If you’re asking employees to give up their fixed working behaviour in favour of agile working, you have to provide somewhere for them to stash their laptop, paperwork and personal belongings.

It’s also important that employees still feel a sense of belonging and ownership in the office, which can unfortunately sometimes dwindle when people aren’t assigned desks in a traditional manner. Giving staff their own locker or storage space assures them that they still ‘own’ a piece of the office. We love to use lockers as a feature, just as we did at Virgin Red; where bold lines are softened by indoor foliage, complete with a hidden flamingo!