The complete guide to everything you need to know about the flex office and to understand the evolution of new hybrid and flexible work modes in companies.
The terms "flex office" or "flex space" are the abbreviations of flexible offices. These new organization modes offer companies important possibilities to adapt their workplaces to their needs.
In concrete terms, the flex office is a work mode that consists of not assigning a personal workspace to an employee.
In a context of work hybridization, companies must be agile to compete in a dynamic environment. The market demands speed and flexibility in all areas, from production and services to the office space, which is the company's common workplace.
For organizations that need flexibility in their office space, all the players (commercial real estate, HR/ISD, hybrid work management solution) have stepped up to the plate and kept pace with the changing demand to offer solutions to the changing needs. Flexible space or flex office is a solution that can be a significant advantage for companies that need to get the most utility out of a single space.
Another new anglicism in fashion?
You have probably heard the terms "flex office" or "flex space" recently, either in discussions in the working world or in debates about the "future of work".
But what does it really mean in tomorrow's workplace? And why do you need to learn about it for your organization?
Let's go further in the definition of flex office. The flex office adapts to the current organization of work to meet the needs of autonomy and flexibility of employees in an era where 80% of teleworkers prefer the hybrid work mode / telecommuting according to the Dares 2022 survey (among 27% of employees in France). The implementation of flex office within a company is beneficial for the workers, but also for the company itself.
A flex office is a dedicated workspace that you can rent or create on flexible terms. Flex offices allow you to have a private workspace without the disadvantages of a traditional office, this mode of work allows you to optimize your real estate expenses and to adapt to the demand for flexibility of your employees. Flex office models are most often found in coworking spaces, which bring together many professionals from different fields and structures. Today, more and more traditional companies are reducing the size of their offices and practicing a flex office policy to adapt to new post-pandemic work organization modes.
Flexible work environments allow you to work in a variety of locations: in the company's offices or telecommuting when the occupancy rate is too high on a given day.
The flex office offers short or long term solutions for companies who want to optimize their real estate policy. Indeed, real estate is one of the main expenses for structures. In offices, workstations are occupied only 60% of the time on average, between telecommuting, RTT or other vacations and training of employees, according to Sarah Proust, author of Telecommuting, the end of the office. Opting for flexible offices with fewer workstations than employees allows for significant optimization.
Cost reduction is the alpha and omega for business leaders. In addition to the reduction in the number of workstations mentioned above, flexible spaces also reduce overhead costs due to better management of team attendance and therefore dedicated equipment. For example, your team members will order coffee or supplies only for the days they are present at their workplace!
As a reminder, the flex office concept is based on the principle of not assigning a fixed workstation per person.
Organizations choose to "go flex office" for several reasons:
These new flexible workspaces adapt to the ever-changing needs of the business, as organizations face new challenges brought on by the pandemic. Nearly 70% of office workers believe that hybrid work will be key to retaining talent in the future. Adapting the number of individual workstations and reorganizing shared spaces seems inevitable for companies.
Like everything else, workspaces are bound to change over time. It is in this context that the flex office was born. Although this concept is not new, the current situation only increases the number of companies using this mode of organization.
Workers' needs are also changing: more mobile, more flexible.
Shared spaces and more open offices allow employees to meet more often within the office and exchange ideas, which is beneficial for collaboration and team building within the company.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the flex office leads to a +50% increase in productivity, a +76% increase in engagement, and a 13% decrease in absenteeism.
This also improves the office atmosphere. Employees can meet or cross paths with their colleagues. This way of working leaves room for informal moments, fundamental in a company.
A reorganization of the work space can lead to a gain of surface. This optimization can result in lower rent, lower energy consumption, etc. Also, the office equipment will have to be provided in smaller quantities since the number of individual seats will be less.
The implementation of telecommuting a few days a week also allows the company to save on employee transportation costs and to optimize the occupancy rate of the workspaces (remote / face to face).
The flex office offers employees a sense of satisfaction. They feel more empowered. By giving them the opportunity to take advantage of different spaces within their organization, or to stay at home, they can adapt their way of working. This flexibility reduces the pressure to balance personal and professional life.
This work organization also avoids the employee being in a fixed work routine.
Every day is different! It brings with it a lot of innovation and interaction with other people.
Looking at the benefits of the flex office, it would be easy to think that there are no drawbacks. Unfortunately, there are at least four. We recommend that you take them into account before rethinking the way you organize your work.
The first is the possible reduction in the sense of well-being at work. Indeed, because of the flexibility required by the flex office, you can no longer personalize your own workspace. Of course, the offices will be less cluttered, but the absence of personal objects can reduce the feeling of well-being. To avoid this, you can equip your offices with individual closed lockers or cubicles for employees to store their personal belongings.
The second point to consider is the possible emergence of tensions between workers. Because the first to arrive at the office will be the first to be served. This could lead to stress and small conflicts between team members. Especially if some work spaces are considered less pleasant than others, because they are next to the toilets or in a busy corridor for example. To prevent these possible tensions, a tool for managing presence and/or reserving offices may be necessary in order to organize the flex office as well as possible.
Thirdly, business communication may deteriorate as a result of the flex office. While moving from one office to another is supposed to promote interaction between employees, frequent changes of workstation can also have the opposite effect. Sure, people meet more often, but the connections that are made are weaker.
The last difficulty is adapting to a new work organization. Not having a dedicated office means you have to be optimally organized. You have to be able to offer meeting spaces, be able to reserve a workstation in a co-working space (when team members work remotely), make sure that the location corresponds to the employees' taste, etc. The organization must be carefully thought out to allow this new way of working to unleash its full potential!
The flex office therefore has undeniable advantages, but also disadvantages whose impact on the life of the company should not be ignored. A good practice would be to discuss it with the employees and listen carefully to their needs.
SaaS tools for managing hybrid work (face-to-face / telework / flex office) allow organizations to anticipate these issues by offering concrete solutions to facilitate the daily life of employees and managers.
Reflecting lasting changes in worker behavior, the flex office requires a co-construction effort with the staff. A small price to pay for the company to benefit from the full blossoming of its identity, and to see its team members take ownership of its values and projects and bring them to life.
There are several options available to you if you want to implement flex office in your company such as redesigning the workspace of your current premises or working from a coworking space. It all depends on your current leases and the number of employees involved.
It works in two steps: analyze precisely the usage statistics of your workspaces and then offer a set of flexible services to your employees.
As a first step, it is interesting to calculate the number of workstations needed in the office. The objective here is to understand the minimum number of workstations needed on a daily basis. It is therefore necessary to analyze the habits of the employees to know the occupancy rate of the offices.
Secondly, you can talk to your employees: it is important to communicate the upcoming changes with them, in an era where transparency is key within the structures. Some employees may not be very happy to be without their own office, so it's up to you to explain the many advantages of a flex office. They are also a source of inspiration in the choice of work mode and will have proposals to make to you in the framework of this organization.
A flex office policy means flexibility for the company's employees. In this way, employees have free access to equipment, meeting rooms, restaurants and parking.
If you want to work with others on collaborative projects, you can choose a larger office to accommodate your entire team. You can book a conference room, workspace, phone box or private call room at any time, and even set up a quiet corner away from your team.
From SaaS hybrid work management tools can also be used to improve work flexibility and facilitate the daily life of your employees. How do you do this? By sharing an attendance schedule with teams that is fully integrated with the company's other collaborative tools (Slack, Teams, Google, etc.). You can then be at the office at the right time with your teams.
Another popular idea is the implementation of a flexible mobility plan: this plan consists of bringing together different initiatives to promote more sustainable and efficient modes of travel for your employees.
With the "future of work" and the advent of hybrid work, many expressions related to the flex office are flourishing that are essential to know!
Let's review these terms that you will encounter in setting up your flex office:
The smart working is a set of practices that add flexibility to work methods through innovative solutions. Flexibility of location, hours of work and shared responsibilities are some of the markers of smart working.
Flex desk, hot desk or shared desk are terms used to describe an unallocated workspace open to all. The most important thing is that this space is linked to a reservation system (in companies or in coworking) so that users can reserve and use it according to their needs.
Desk sharing is a flexible arrangement where employees can reserve a desk for the day. Instead of having permanent offices, employees can choose a desk or workspace each day they arrive. Once they are done working, the desk becomes available and another worker can reserve it.
Similar to desk sharing, the hot desking is the concept of assigning desks to workers when they need them or on a rotating basis, rather than giving each employee their own desk.
A smart office is a hybrid workplace combining high technology with a human touch. Designed to enhance the overall workspace with better management tools, they allow employees to work smarter and be more productive.
The implementation of the flex office implies that some employees work from home. It is therefore important to adapt the way the different teams work so that they can continue to collaborate in an optimal way.
A new approach to the organization of remote work to allow regular follow-up of daily meetings
Daily meetings are a good way to keep up to date on the progress of colleagues. These meetings, which can be organized remotely by videoconference, allow for daily communication on the tasks in progress and any problems encountered by the various employees. It is also the right time to ask all the questions of the day before in order to make the best progress on the different projects in progress.
It is up to you to define the number of meetings needed per day, depending on the needs of your team.
Many tools exist on the market for a good organization of remote work and an optimal collaboration between all employees. We can mention project management / follow-up tools, video conferencing, instant messaging, collaborative work or document sharing.
All this "digital workspace" is intended to help the daily work of all employees shared between face-to-face and telework.
The implementation of flex office in companies can be greatly facilitated by the adoption of a solution. These softwares allow to manage the presence of the collaborators via a dynamic planning in order to facilitate the collaboration between teams and to optimize the work spaces.
These tools are natively connected to other collaborative tools (Slack, Teams, Google, etc.) for easy adoption by companies and their employees.