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How to make a successful transition to a flex office?

With the health crisis, many companies are changing their organisation to a flex office. Unfortunately, the change is generally badly perceived as a threat or as a questioning by the employees. So how can you make a success of your change of organisation?

by Louise Landemaine
How to make a successful transition to a flex office?

Did you know that 40-50% of the positions in a company are vacant?

If this figure shocks you, it is the reality that companies are changing the way they organise themselves and rethink their offices.

After the open space, the flex office is making its entrance and more than 16% of companies have already adopted this concept (study conducted by Deskeo).

Even if this figure seems insignificant, according to a study carried out by JLL, 59% of companies will be interested in the flex office by 2021. 

So what is the flex office, what are its advantages and disadvantages, and how do you set it up? 

What is the flex office? 

The flex office is back in the spotlight and is winning over more and more companies. 

What is behind this new form of organisation?

The flex office is the absence of assigned workstations for employees.  

This type of organisation combines the two types of organisation we are all familiar with, the traditional office and the open space. There will be collaborative spaces as well as individual workstations.

It allows companies to have an optimised workspace where everyone is free to choose where they want to work depending on their tasks of the day.

The origin  

The flex office was born out of 3 observations:

  • unequal use of the premises provided for the company's employees: between external tasks, holidays, leave or sick leave, more and more office space is going unused;
  • the digital revolution: it has enabled everyone to access their work tools anywhere and at any time;
  • The importance of employees' personal lives: Employees are increasingly concerned about the balance between their professional and personal lives. In addition, many people want to get away from the time pressure and long commutes.

As a result of these findings, it seemed obvious for companies with under-occupied offices to find a solution.

For this purpose, the combination of offices and collaborative spaces was created and the flex office was born.

This concept seems new, but in fact its appearance in France dates back to the early 1990s in the offices of the consulting firm Andersen Consulting.

This concept seemed innovative at the time, but it was soon overtaken by the open space concept.

It was only with the health crisis and the increased interest in employee well-being that it resurfaced in 2020.

What does it look like in real life? 

In everyday life, employees of this type of company bring their equipment to the office and choose their work space or work outside the office at the desired location.

As regards the choice of spaces, an employee may choose a closed office/area if he/she wants to work in peace and quiet and an open space if he/she wants to work with colleagues on a common project.

In the offices, there are regular personal storage places for everyone to avoid repeated transport of their equipment.

Meeting in a room

Not to be confused: flexible office VS flex office

Often confused, the flexible office is the French translation of the flex office but it is also a term that designates the rental of workspaces for a period of time ranging, generally, from one to three hours.  

If you want to talk about the way in which the organisation is organised, then you should use the English term. 

Why choose the flex office? 


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The flex office is a very interesting solution for companies to reduce the costs of occupied space.

However, what are the advantages and disadvantages for the company's business and employees?

Benefits 

As you may have understood earlier, the flex office allows you to reduce space but also to reduce the costs associated with the management of work spaces.

It also allows :

  • to stimulate the creativity and productivity of each employee through the choice of the environment according to their tasks;
  • have a better work-life balance as the flex office offers more freedom and the choice to work where you want.
  • Cleaner premises because everyone owns their own office and everyone will be responsible for cleaning up their own workspace after their session; 
  • tohave more committed employees because this type of organisation imposes a management based on trust and employees will feel more involved;
  • Encourage social ties because by encouraging changes of environment and travel, the flex office encourages employees to form links with various departments in your company; 
  • reduce the sense of routine through an environment in action.

Disadvantages 

As with everything, the flex office also has its drawbacks. 

To ensure that you are successful in setting up this type of organisation, it is important to be aware of these points. 

Among the disadvantages, we can find: 

  • The feeling of loneliness, which is reinforced by the choice of workplaces. A person who has a lot of individual assignments will tend to use closed offices to promote productivity.
  • Decrease in the personalization of desks because as desks are no longer assigned, employees are forced to leave desks empty and this can affect their ownership of your company
  • The establishment of rules to be respected due to the need for organisation imposed by the flex office. 
  • Overcrowding due to reduced space. During a transition, employees are often reluctant to change their routine and will tend to want to come in more than usual, resulting in overcrowding. In the long run, a lack of organisation can lead to having too many employees on your site on the same day.

Considerations before choosing a flex office


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In order to ensure this transition for your employees without reducing the performance of your organisation, we advise you to consider the following points: 

Evaluate the occupancy rate of your offices

To set up a new office organisation, it is important to measure the occupancy rate of your offices. This will allow you to confirm your choice or to realise that it may not be the best solution.

Be careful not to underestimate the occupancy rate as you may find yourself with overcrowded offices when you switch to flex office.

Identify the types of activities in your company

Identifying the types of activities in your company will help you choose the spaces to devote to your employees.

To help you, most companies identify 6 different activities: concentration work (one-on-one), administrative work (e.g. e-mail), audio interaction (calls, video conferences), collaborative work (in teams), informal exchanges and external meetings.

Depending on the types of activities you have identified, at least one space should be allocated for each.

Identify the different spaces you have 

In parallel with identifying the types of activities, identifying your spaces will allow you to build a unique flex office. Here, it is a matter of noting the different spaces you already have.

Think about the different spaces that can be set up 

Once you have addressed the previous 3 points, you can then think about what new spaces you think are needed in your office.

We can only advise you to increase the number of spaces to promote the productivity and well-being of your employees.

For example, you can add a room dedicated to napping. Although napping is a sensitive subject in most professions, several studies agree that napping is as beneficial to the employee as it is to the company. Indeed, a 20-minute nap after 6 hours of waking up would improve productivity by 40%.

Think about the type of management to be put in place

The type of organisation of a company often has an influence on the management set up. A company with closed offices will tend to have a directive management style, while a company with open space will have a persuasive management style.

In the flex office, it is more difficult to practice vertical management and it is necessary to rely on the trust of your employees.

In the types of management based on trust and letting go, we recommend that you look at delegative or participative management.

How to set it up?


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In order to maximise the advantages and minimise the disadvantages of the flex office, it is important to put in place the right methods and tools.

In order not to forget anything, we have prepared a list of chronological steps:

1. Making a digital transition

As you will have understood, the flex office requires that any person in the company can work in any location.

To do this, you will need to set up a common cloud for all employees and provide communication tools.

We advise you to adopt the Google WorkSpace tool for your cloud which will allow you to store, create shared spaces and create a multitude of document types (spreadsheet, presentation, written document).

As for a communication tool, we recommend using the slack platform. This platform facilitates collaboration by allowing you to coordinate your different missions and it also offers the possibility to synchronise with other platforms such as Google Workspace.

2. Have a space reservation tool

To combat overcrowding, it is essential to have a reservation tool. 

This tool will allow you to manage the occupation of all your spaces and your reservation schedules.

We strongly advise you to use the Moffi tool, which offers this type of platform and also allows you to book rooms for all types of events (team building, integration day, etc.) when you do not have enough space in your premises.

3. Establish new rules 

This new type of organisation will move you towards a management based on trust, but it is important to establish rules to ensure that this is organised.

In order to avoid over-occupation of spaces and to promote the hygiene of your premises, you can ask your employees to have compulsory attendance days or to tidy up/clean their work spaces after use.

4. Make the same tools available in all workspaces

To ensure that every employee can work anywhere on your premises, consider putting the necessary tools (screen, connectors, etc.) for each type of work at all workstations.

In the same vein, consider lending all the people in your organisation the equipment they need to work outside your premises.

5. Provide personal space 

In order to make all employees in your organisation feel comfortable and to avoid carrying all their materials with them every time they move to a different workspace, consider setting up personal lockers for them to put their personal or work-related belongings in.

6. Implement acoustic solutions to reduce noise in your premises and optimise your space

It is also important to ensure that your workspaces are quiet to promote productivity for all. 

For this purpose, we advise you to integrate acoustic booths for telephone calls. They will allow you to increase confidentiality and considerably reduce noise in collaborative spaces.

As a manufacturer of acoustic booths, we are not objective, but according to Dynamic Workplace, 90% of meetings in companies take place between 2 and 3 people.

To avoid having large unused meeting rooms, acoustic booths will allow you to save space in addition to bringing a design touch to your premises.

If you are interested in this type of product, we invite you to read our article which explains how to choose your future phone box.

7. Train your managers

It is also necessary to think about training these managers for the transition and the new type of management they will have to apply. 

Subsequently, ask them to accompany the different parties in the company in this change in order to avoid isolation and to help energise the teams and maintain team cohesion.

8. Prepare customisation workshops

To avoid losing the interest your employees have in your company, it is important to involve them in the life of the company.

Think about workshops that will allow them to bring their own personal touch to your premises. 

For example, you could dedicate a wall in the break room for everyone to draw on, or offer a competition beforehand to choose the decoration for the different rooms.

9. Integrate vegetation into your office

For an aesthetic aspect but also for the health of your employees, do not hesitate to fill your offices with flowers or plants. Plants play a depolluting and oxygenating role, by adding flowers to your spaces it will help to purify the air while reducing the rate of CO2 and it will give you a little decorative touch.

Moreover, according to the University of Queensland, the presence of plants increases productivity by 15%.

Green wall for companies
Example of a green wall by the company Platan in the Campus Molitor premises

We advise you to turn to Platan, a customised planting workshop, which will make your office more attractive.

10. Set up satisfaction questionnaires

After the switch to the flex office, set up satisfaction questionnaires that will allow you to judge the success of the flex office and to adjust any concerns you may have. 

This can be done weekly for the first three months and semi-annually thereafter.

You're ready to change your office

With all this information, you now know how to define and implement a flex office! 

If you would like to know more about acoustic booths and our uniquely designed acoustic meeting rooms, we suggest you take a look at our products.


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