Gone are the days of soulless offices with white walls and the same furniture throughout the company. The ideal workspace has become a pleasant place to collaborate and meet in distinct zones. To achieve such a result, it's essential to rethink spaces through flex office, from which zoning is derived.
What is zoning? How do you divide your company's spaces according to your needs? How do you set up a flex office? All the answers are in this article!
The world of work has been in a state of flux since the 1970s. But another big change came with the pandemic in 2020. The perpetuation of remote work and the flex office has brought about a real transformation in the way we work, and this evolution has also manifested itself in our workspaces.
With the health crisis, the practice of remote work has accelerated. On average, employees were teleworking 2 days a week at the start of 2022, compared with 3.6 days in 2020 and 1.6 days in 2019, according to a study by Malakof Humanis. This increase in 2020 is due to the various confinements that have prompted many people to telework. However, these figures show that remote work is not going away, particularly with the increase in the number of "teleworkable" professions.
At the same time, employees' habits and needs have evolved: a better balance between professional and personal life, giving meaning to one's work, and so on. These changes have prompted many companies to rethink the way they operate, including the way they organize their workspaces.
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The flex office is the most convincing example of the recent evolution of office space. In 2019, 14% of companies operated in nomadic offices. By 2021, this figure has almost doubled to 28% (source: Parella).
A transition to the flexible office enables the creation of more collaborative spaces, meeting rooms and phone boxes. In this way, employees don't have a dedicated workstation, and can choose to work in a variety of ways, depending on their needs: this is the concept ofActivity Based Working. One of the objectives is to make the premises attractive, a real place where employees can meet up and work together.
Zoning involves dividing the workspace into different zones, each with a specific function or meeting particular needs such as collaborative or individual work, or relaxation. Zoning also helpsoptimize office use and occupancy management in a flexible working environment where employees do not have permanently assigned workstations.
This stage can be carried out upstream of the company's redevelopment work, when the project is being considered. You can call on the services of professionals (consultancy firms such as JLL, CBRE or Colliers, architects, etc.) to provide you with the best possible advice.
It's important to involve and consult employees right from the start of the project, since it's they who will be using these new spaces and bringing them to life.
Two zoning options are available: macro-zoning and micro-zoning.
Macro-zoning involves organizing and dividing a company's various workspaces according to their specific uses.
As each service, cluster or department has its own specific characteristics, macro-zoning aims to define the contours of each zone, so that the layout can be optimally adapted to users' needs.
A well-thought-out layout promotes :
For example, macro-zoning can often include zones dedicated to meetings and collaboration, with equipped meeting rooms and spaces for teamwork. There may also be zones dedicated to individual tasks or those requiring concentration, with secluded offices or quiet workspaces.
Example of macro-zoning in the Deskare tool, allowing an employee to choose his or her zone of assignment.
Micro-zoning is a more detailed approach to flex office workspace management. Unlike macro-zoning, which divides the office environment into large, distinct zones, micro-zoning focuses on more specific divisions.
For example, a relaxation zone could be divided into several areas with sofas, tables, table soccer or a place to rest.
It's a question of really bringing the spaces to life by giving them their own identity. It's also at this stage that decisions on office decoration and design can be taken.
While macro-zoning is limited to office functions (quietness, noise, concentration) or global departments, micro-zoning can be more specific: team, project, type of equipment available...
When considering the zoning of different spaces, it can be beneficial to implement desk booking. ****It's a way of gathering valuable data such as your employees' office attendance and/or remote work habits.
Here are the key questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to adopt desk booking:
Whether or not desk booking is necessary will also depend on your corporate culture. As with space planning, it's imperative to adopt transparent communication and involve employees in the decision-making process, which will contribute to greater acceptance and adoption of desk booking.
When dividing an office into zones for flex office, several factors need to be taken into account, such as the needs of employees, the types of activities carried out and the specific organization of the company. Here are a few examples to help you divide your offices into zones:
You can create areas dedicated to concentration and individual tasks: flexible workspaces and individual phone boxes, for example.
Employees come to the office to collaborate, so it's essential to create spaces conducive to exchanges and group work: meeting rooms, open areas with shared work tables or discussion corners.
Depending on your field of activity and the surface area available on your premises, it's essential to provide areas dedicated to formal meetings or presentations, such as conference rooms equipped for this type of event.
In contrast to formal meeting areas, those dedicated to informal exchanges offer a more relaxed atmosphere for brainstorming, small team meetings or spontaneous encounters. Spaces with comfortable seating, sofas or "coffee corners" can be envisaged.
If your surface area allows it, it's important to provide your employees with areas dedicated to relaxation, lunch breaks and rest periods: eating areas, waste management systems, areas with sofas or games.
If your company has separate departments or teams with particular needs, consider creating specific zones. This will encourage collaboration and communication between its members.
Quieter, more secluded spaces, such as phone boxes or quiet open spaces, can help employees concentrate on tasks that require minimum distraction.
During the project planning phase, it is essential to comply with certain rules and standards to ensure the safety, well-being and efficiency of employees in their future workspaces. Rules and standards may vary according to country, region and sector of activity, but here are a few general principles:
Offices must comply with fire safety standards, which include the installation of fire detection systems, automatic sprinklers, appropriate emergency exits and clear signage. All of which must be indicated on a plan so that the premises can be evacuated as quickly as possible.
These workspaces must be accessible to people with reduced mobility. The applicable standards vary according to the nature of the premises, whether open or closed to the public. If the company is open to the public, it must comply with the French Disability Act of February 11, 2005. Otherwise, it must apply the French Labor Code, which requires the installation of ramps, elevators, adapted toilets and obstacle-free paths.
Offices must offer adequate lighting to ensure the safety and visual comfort of employees. Lighting standards may vary according to the type of work performed, but it is recommended to favor natural lighting and to use artificial lighting as a complement. You can find all the information you need about lighting on the Afnor website.
Workspaces need to be properly ventilated to ensure healthy air quality. This can include the installation of ventilation systems, regular maintenance of air filters and humidity management.
Ergonomic workspace design is essential to ensure employee comfort and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. It is important to use appropriate furniture and equipment, such as height-adjustable workstations and ergonomic chairs. Afnor regulations provide valuable guidelines for the ergonomic design of office workspaces. By following them, companies can create safe, comfortable environments that promote employee health and well-being.
In a flex office environment, it's essential to divide spaces into suitable work zones to encourage collaboration and meet the needs of both the company and its employees. Desk-booking can also enhance flexibility and teamwork.
It is also important to comply with certain safety and lighting standards when designing the zoning. By considering the different work, meeting and relaxation zones, companies can create stimulating and pleasant working environments for their employees.
Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of flex office!