Zenbooth Blog

Posts tagged "agile workspace"

Office design is constantly evolving and as design trends come and go, so too do different styles of working in an office environment. The workplace has become more flexible – it’s no longer the case that employees are expected to sit at their desk or cubicle from 9 to 5.

While the open office and hot-desking first found popularity in the ‘90s, from the year 2000 and beyond, offices started to become more playful and fun to reflect the younger and more entrepreneurial workforce and the growing importance on work-life balance.

Almost two decades later, these concepts have become more refined, resulting in what has commonly become known as “Millennial” office design – taking its name from the Millennial generation born between 1981 and 1996. Millennials are predicted to make up 35% of the global workforce by 2020.

millenial office design

What Is Millennial Office Design?

To understand exactly what Millennial design looks like, it makes sense to first understand the characteristics and motivations of the Millennial generation.

This is the first generation to have grown up with the internet as a part of their lives from childhood – they’ve basically never known a world without mobile phones, being constantly online, and the ability to access information instantly at any time of the day or night.



In many corners of the business world, “agile” has become more a buzzword than a principle to live by. But when you strip the fads and jargon out, the concept is one that can help a business do be more efficient, achieve lower costs and higher employee & customer satisfaction.

According to the Agile Business Consortium, agility means much the same as it does in real life—to adapt quickly to change, to “respond rapidly and flexibly to customer demands,” to adapt to change effectively without a drop in quality, to be a leader in productive change, and to take the lead in competitive advantage.

A truly agile workspace, then, would be one that facilitates adaptability, collaboration, productivity, and leadership. Here are some ideas that can help you transform your workplace into a more agile one today. 

agile workspace principles


When we hear the term ‘agile work environment,’ what usually comes to mind is hot-desking, working from home, or remote work. 

However, agile working is all that and providing a unique office layout. It’s about giving workers the freedom and ability to perform their roles in the most appropriate place and time.

Agile work allows for choice and flexibility in terms of where and when tasks are done, as long as work is delivered within reasonable timelines. 

The principle behind agile working is that team members are adults – meaning they are mature, responsible, and trustworthy enough to be expected to perform their duties without much or any prodding. 

It’s more about encouraging or guiding staff to act responsibly on their own volition.

The beginnings of agile work environments

Our familiarity with stress and the ever-present need to attain a work-life balance is one of the factors that has led to the evolution of the traditional, nine-to-five in-office work arrangement.


Office design is achieving new heights, from coworking spaces to office pods. Now, the concept of the "agile office" is all the buzz - a flexible and productive work environment with different activity spaces. 

But how exactly is it conducive to better staff productivity & happiness? Here's a look at why building agile offices is essential for your employees.

Physical Freedom

Physical freedom is the most important principle of an agile workspace. No longer are employees confined to sitting for hours to work at desks or in front of computers, experiencing physical strain, fatigue and boredom. 

The open office is the foundation that allows for standing, walking or sitting while still having desks and computers available for employees when they need them.


If you've ever worked a desk job, you're well aware that after a week of staring at your computer, you can't wait for the excitement of a fun weekend. 

Though you may love the work you do, are you always comfortable, energized, and feeling creative? Chances are you answered no to at least two of those questions. 

We're all humans, and as much as we'd like to feel all of those things 100 percent of the time, it would be pretty difficult to do so. Being in the same environment and doing the same work day after day sometimes takes away from our productivity, creativity, and overall happiness. 

When we see the same desk to our left, and the same coffee pot to our right, things tend to get boring and bland. Without the opportunity to have a new, fresh environment, you could lack inspiration.

That's where agile office layout principles come in. Let's examine some of the themes of agile offices, the benefits you'll see when you adopt the idea, and even some agile workspace​​​ design ideas. 

About agile workspaces

The agile workspace is a simple solution to a noisy, uninspiring, or distracting, workplace. It provides options as far as where in the office you choose to work, and gives you the chance to have that group meeting without distracting your neighbor. 

agile workspace principles and design


The open office plan has become extremely popular over the last few years, particularly riding the expansion of the start-up tech company culture that prized creating the opportunity for open collaboration. In fact, it is estimated that over 70% of modern offices now employ some kind of open format. 

It was a logical reaction to the much longer-standing tradition of the cellular or closed office space plan, in which cubicles and partitions underlined individual focus and corporate hierarchy.

However, despite the best intentions of companies to pool teams together, concentrating differing talents around clusters of tables or long benches, the open-office format is simply not delivering.

The modern workplace needs to offer one attribute above all — flexibility. By offering only a highly socialized environment, the open office has failed to be flexible. 

Yes, it’s egalitarian, but it simply doesn't cater to the very relevant need for personal privacy and focus, and the bottom line is that productivity is suffering as a result.

So, what’s the solution?

Creating Agile Offices

The agile working concept is the key to improving baseline focus, creativity, and output in the modern workplace. Put simply, it achieves this by not planning a top-down assumption of what people need. It looks at work as an 


Every company or startup team should have the goal in mind of creating an office space that maximizes their employees' productivity and workflow. 

This is where an agile workspace excels. But striking the right balance between creative freedom and focused work can be challenging. The good news is, there are several small things you can do to help smooth the conversion process and seamlessly shift your employees from a traditional office setting to something way more productive. 

Six Tips for Elite Agile Office Design 

  • Give your Employees Options - Make sure that your agile workspace has several different areas that are designed for different types of work. Although the entire setting should be more open, give your employees options when it comes to group or individual projects. Allocating two or three spots specifically for concentrated work is key. 
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    The last two decades featured the rise of the open office concept. Advocates of the open office coming from the tech sector claimed that the idea was to throw open all of the barriers to communication and collaboration. 

    While the original philosophy came from 1950s West Germany, the idea, once called the “bullpen” model had been common in American newspapers, police departments, and some other areas for some time.

    The open office ideal, however, ran into problems. Simply tearing down walls did not improve collaboration as much as it increased annoyance and dropped productivity.

    Recently, office designers have looked to take the goals and some of the ideas of the open office and improve them with a concept called the “agile workspace.” A good agile office design respects diversity among staff in terms of working practices. It incorporates a number of ideas to support staff and boost productivity.

    agile workspace design


    For too many years, the benefits of agile office design have been ignored. Instead, workplaces have been built on principles that do not support good employee productivity, happiness, or business success. 

    A floor full of identical, separated cubicles are a waste of space, discourage collaboration and a feeling of team camaraderie. They also contribute to employee burnout and low productivity overall. 

    In response to this negative trend, companies that were looking to shake things up turned to open office floor plans. Rather than cubicles, they had desks in rows where everyone could work and see their team members. In theory, this was an improvement, but in reality, it brought a host of difficulties. 

    agile office design

    Factors like loud spaces, no space for small meetings, no ability to step out and quickly recharge before returning to work, and no way to participate in conference calls or other telecommunication without disturbing the entire office lead to many of the same problems we see with rigidly designed cubicle spaces. Absenteeism, low productivity, and burnout can all plague open floor plan offices.  


    The working world has changed and the offices of days gone by simply don't cut it anymore. The newly conceived agile workspace​ has transformed the modern office beyond recognition. And the truth is, it had to happen. Offices have evolved over the last few decades and we simply don't work the same way anymore.

    The typing pools and compact cubicle hell of the 1970s are soon to be fully replaced by agile workspace furniture and design principles. 

    It's now also time for the negatives of the open plan office to bite the dust too.

    Where Did the Open Plan Office Go Wrong?

    Open-plan has actually been with us since the 1950s, but it became the norm in the last two decades. It even got to the vaguely ridiculous point where managers were removing their doors with screwdrivers to show just how approachable they were after reading one too many leadership books.

    Tech giants championed the open plan office and even Google went that route together with 70% of the country. Facebook took the extravagant and slightly farcical step of employing renowned architect Frank Gehry to design the largest open-plan office in the world at that point with room for 3000 engineers.


    It's not just the nature of work that has changed. In today's global, increasingly digital-first economy, the needs of workers have also shifted. 

    Productivity is no longer about punching a time card or clocking in and out. It's about how powerfully, efficiently and effectively workers can use their 9 to 5 hours. In other words, working smarter, not necessarily harder.

    Part of working smarter means working in an environment that supports the format of the work being done and the stage of the project the work is at. 

    The rise in co-working spaces doesn't only parallel the rise in remote workers and the changing nature of working hours. It also tells us that there is a preference for larger companies to rely on smaller, leaner teams, and groups who can demonstrate a deep expertise, working on a project-to-project basis. 

    Running a tight but steadily moving ship like this, then, requires an office that will be as responsive as the principles these cohorts are built on.

    A productive workspace is not only a flexible one or a balanced one, with ample room for various sizes and functions. It's also an "agile" one: A workplace design that mimics the inquiry, creativity, testing, development, and design stages that are at the core of the work itself. 

    So how do you put innovative development principles meant for software to work in a physical space? Simple: by creating agile workspaces.

    The Office Feel of Agile Workspaces