FLEXIBLE WORKING: A GLOBAL TREND AND ITS BENEFITS
Flexible office design for Gen Z – a new generation of employees – has emerged as a global trend. Based on the IWG Global Workspace’s report, this article analyses the trend and explores the benefits of flexible working as well as office designs that match this trend.
62% of enterprises around the world are adopting a flexible working model into their operations and personnel management. It is statistically reported by IWG Global Workspace that flexible working brought a lot of benefits, for examples:
- improved work performance, as acknowledged by 85% of enterprises.
- advantage in talent attraction and retention, as reported by 77% of enterprises.
A flexible working model features three aspects: workplace, work time and workload. Workplace may be urban, office or outside the office. The work time is more adjustable and determined by the employee, instead of the traditional fixed time frame from 9 am to 5 pm. Flexible working allows employees to control and manage their workload independently.
A flexible job and flexible office design are key factors of the work-life balance. Employees do not have to trade a good job off for workplace utilities and home. 75% of enterprises confirmed a flexible working policy had saved time and reduced the stress of home-to-work commuting. Besides, a flexible office design adds a source of comfort for employees at work. Moreover, ⅘ of respondent enterprises found flexible working had promoted the diversity of staff members. The reason for this is that flexible working empowered employees, especially for newly married employees and women with children, to take the initiative in balancing work and family. Part-time or retired employees can still deliver high work performance in a flexible model.
Flexible office design, besides time and workload management policies, plays an important role in the creation of a flexible job.
Office interior design must be adaptable to the characteristics of specific departments. It is implied by 65% of enterprises that a flexible office design appropriate to the characteristics of working unit would enhance productivity. For example, Marketing needs a large meeting room with abundant light, project management or sales department needs semi-secluded desks for a closed acoustic workspace that serves important phone calls. This is evidenced in a report where 50% of respondents said Marketing department worked more effectively in open space while 46% of respondents said the privacy-oriented design was a better choice for Sales department.
A flexible office design solution typically uses open space and focuses on auxiliary areas.
A flexible office design is characterized by minimized division of space and creative youthful design patterns like open ceilings, colors; a keen attention to auxiliary areas such as dining rooms, lounge; maximized use of natural light and green zones throughout the office. Co-working space and flexible desks are arranged in addition to meeting rooms and fixed seats. An office design with keen attention to auxiliary spaces like living area, lunchroom, recreational area and bar would improve work experience and work-life balance for employees. Interior design for these areas uses versatile furniture that can serve diverse needs of employees.
British American Tobacco office uses multi-purpose furniture for a flexible ambience. This is all the rage globally, especially in leading countries such as Germany, Netherlands, Australia, USA, Canada, UK …, though it remains new in Asian countries. In Vietnam, however, a considerable number of enterprises have made themselves current to the trend by designing flexible offices for their employees. It is believed that obvious and direct benefits of flexible working would drive enterprises to step up in the new trend to facilitate employees.