Agile working is becoming an important element of the post-pandemic workplace. As businesses look to attract and retain talent, the workplace is changing shape to accommodate the desires and expectations of today’s employees.
In 1970, a German businessman invented flexitime and promoted its benefits throughout the world. Wilhelm Haller (1935-2004) was a social entrepreneur who realised that fixed concepts in organisations could no longer live up to the needs of the developing working world. Flexitime is a system whereby workers are expected to work a core part of the day (for example, 10:00 to 15:00), but can work the remainder of their hours within a set period (for example, 05:00 to 20:00).
Just as flexitime is about when you work, so home working, mobile working, and hot desking are about where you work – although flexibility of place often implies flexibility of time, too.
Agile working, however, goes a step further. Agile working is four-dimensional. It’s about time (when), place (where), role (what), and source (who).
A well-known definition of agile working was articulated by Paul Allsopp, Founder of The Agile Organisation:
"Agile working is about bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology, time, and place together to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to carry out a particular task. It is working within guidelines (of the task) but without boundaries (of how you achieve it).
Mr Allsopp says, “The goal of agile working is to create more responsive, efficient, and effective organisations based on more balanced, motivated, innovative, and productive teams and individuals.”
Balance, motivation, innovation: a recipe for productivity.
Investment in employee wellbeing is widely recognised as crucial for enhanced productivity.
Anna Dziadkowiec, of Nowy Styl, a European leader in furniture solutions for offices and public spaces, talks about the ethos of breakout areas: “Research shows that 70% of interactions between employees takes place outside rooms intended strictly for meetings,” she says. “Stimulating the sense of taste in unique spaces creates the right atmosphere, helps one regenerate and relax.” Nowy Styl’s new Warsaw showroom features an Aqua illi tap in the main refreshment area.
Breakout areas aren’t exactly break areas – although they can be. And they’re not exactly meeting areas – although they can be. They’re not specifically for talking, eating, relaxing, sleeping, or crying. But they could be used for any of those!
A breakout area can be a great place to work – individually or in a group. A chance meeting could ignite an impromptu collaboration, spark an important discussion, or light the flame of a new friendship.
Biologically, we’re not cut out for a sedentary lifestyle. To stay healthy, we need to move about and give our minds a break now and then.
Many of us love to take our work to a coffee shop. We might nip out of the office for a couple of hours for a change of scene, or perhaps for an informal meeting with a colleague. Maybe we’re working from home, and we just need to get out of the house! Or we might be grabbing half an hour in a coffee shop before visiting a client.
The comfortable atmosphere of a coffee shop is spiced with stimulating chatter and the heady scent of roasted coffee beans. There’s an underlying sweetness that comes from flavoured syrups, heated milk, and freshly baked cakes. Rather than a distraction, background noise is a soothing element of the coffee shop environment. Human voices, the clatter of crockery, the hissing of an espresso machine … they’re all part of the coffee-shop experience.
When we feel good, we’re more creative and productive. Simply a change of scene can be stimulating.
However, coffee-shop working isn’t always a bed of roses.
Sometimes the Wi-Fi isn’t working, or you can’t get a table close to a plug socket. Sometimes the table is too small for your laptop and coffee cup, but the café might be too busy to justify taking up a large table by yourself. Background noise may be pleasant, but it can also be a bit too much when you’re on the phone. And what do you do with your belongings when you need to leave your table to pop outside or to the lavatory?
Very easily, the downside of working in a café can outweigh the good bits and put a spoke in the wheel of industry.
But what if the coffee shop came to you? Just imagine having a real coffee shop in your workplace …
In the “old days” an office might have a kitchen and a staffroom – or a kitchen-cum-staffroom. These rooms were used before the workday began, after the workday was over, and during allotted breaks.
Availability of economical, high-performing water dispensers has ushered office hydration out of the kitchen into other areas of the workplace. And with the trend for office breakout areas, the work/break division has been softened, allowing for more flexibility and choice when it comes to the structure of a working day.
So what would the ideal break-cum-hydration-cum-work area look like? Well, it might look like a coffee shop.
But not just any coffee shop, because a workplace micro café is built around the needs of the organisation and its people. A work café is the perfect dynamic space for collaboration, focus, and relaxation, with integrated technology, easy access to power … and coffee!
An essential part of wellbeing is good hydration, and, like every other coffee shop, a workplace micro café will offer fresh drinking water – perhaps via the countertop or undercounter Aqua bottler, or a trio of Aqua Alto taps that dispense pure hot, chilled, and sparkling water at a touch.
For large office spaces – even those spanning multiple floors – there’s a drinking-water system that provides pure filtered water, still and sparkling, to every department on every floor of an office block.
Aqua Link is the world’s most advanced single-source hydration system for multiple dispense locations, capable of dispensing 45 litres of drinking water, per hour, at each dispense point.
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