Flexible working is engrained in O2’s culture. This means that people are given the option to combine working from home when they need to and coming into the office. But how do you manage space efficiently when everyone might be in one day at the same time, but not often enough to justify permanent, space-sucking desks for everyone?
This is something that Chris Early, Estates and Development Manager at O2, has reviewed at O2’s head office in Slough – working with CurvPress® pods from Spaceoasis®.
Flexible working spaces
“We have to manage peaks and troughs of occupancy over the course of the day,” explains Chris. “Flexible working and field-based roles mean some people don’t need permanent desks, but they do need somewhere nice to sit and use their laptops when they come in. We had some breakout spaces that weren’t really being used so, working with Turner Legg Consulting, we replaced the furniture with acoustic Dorado, Groupo and Sage pods from Spaceoasis®. Because they are large, 12 people can use the touchdown on the outside of the Sage pod and 24 can fit around the double one, so it’s an efficient way of providing lots of seats for occasional use. The touchdowns are really solid and spacious so they also can be used as standing desks if required.”
“The build quality is very good; some furniture is a triumph of form over function, these are the opposite, they are good value for money and we’re planning to use more of them in other locations.”
O2 use the acoustic pods for informal conversations and small meetings, which helps relieve pressure on meeting rooms by providing a third space.
Wellbeing is an increasingly important consideration. Along with lighting, ventilation and air quality people want to be able to move around during the day.
Chris Legg of Turner Legg Consulting, who delivered the project, advises that to be successful at delivering flexible working, it’s as much about hearts and minds as environments.
There are three critical strands that need to come together for successful flexible working, starting with HR policies that support and enable flexibility. If your manager is a command and control type who needs to see you at your desk to believe you’re working then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to enjoy any real flexibility. You need a culture that tasks people on performance, not presence – managers who don’t care where or when the work is done, just that it is. Even in a task-based culture, there will still be roles where someone is required to be at their desk all day so it’s important to consider what function the space needs to perform to enable people to do their specific job. While moving away from one-desk-per-person is ok for some roles, it simply won’t work for others.
“Secondly, you need the technology to work. If you’re tethered to a desktop PC, you can’t skip off to a touchdown and keep working. Similarly, if you use a landline, you need follow-me telephony to enable you to work from other locations. Even if you are blessed with the ability to work flexibly, you still need access to power and good broadband to make it work.
“The third strand is design. There’s no point having a flexible environment if it’s got poor connectivity and isn’t comfortable. It has to be sustainable design that delivers superior functionality, otherwise you end up with a great-looking space that no-one uses.
"There is an expectation now that work environments should be designed to enable productivity, greater collaboration and knowledge-sharing with formal and informal meeting spaces."
ESTATES AND DEVELOPMENT MANAGER AT O2
“Wellbeing is an increasingly important consideration too. Along with fundamentals like lighting, ventilation and air quality people want to be able to move around during the day; standing desks are here to stay and it’s important to offer people choice in how and where to work, even if that choice is simply between sitting and standing.
There is an expectation now that work environments should be designed to enable productivity, greater collaboration and knowledge-sharing with formal and informal meeting spaces. There is also the expectation of decent coffee and nice water, all these things are important and need careful consideration!”