Businesses need more than a trendy office to embrace agile working says Engineroom founder

Office interior designed by Engine Room

Office interior designed by Engine Room - Credit: Archant

Funky, open plan offices that allow people to work both flexibly and collaboratively can help in transforming the way businesses work, but a state-of-the-art workplace won’t necessarily suit all companies.

Office interior designed by Engine Room

Office interior designed by Engine Room - Credit: Archant

So says, Richard Newton, founder and commercial director at East Anglian-based architect and interior design business Engineroom, an EADT/EDP Future 50 company, which as well as carrying out traditional architecture projects, is involved in advising client companies on how interior design can be integrated into workplace strategies.

Mr Newton’s approach to devising new work spaces for clients is not to rush straight in with the office design itself but instead to first “get under the skin” of how a company works and to ask senior managers “how they perceive their business in the future”.

It’s a management consultancy approach to interior design that aims to plan an office space to suit the culture and way of working of its occupants.

Office interior designed by Engine Room

Office interior designed by Engine Room - Credit: Archant

Agile Working


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At the heart of many new office designs these days is a desire to embrace ‘agile working’ - a catch all term that refers to a transformational working pattern where people are able to work anytime, any place, anywhere.

“The advent of new technologies mean that people don’t have to be sat at their desk all the time,” said Mr Newton.

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“Work today is much more task driven rather than people simply turning up and plodding away as usual.”

Office interior designed by Engine Room

Office interior designed by Engine Room - Credit: Archant

But simply creating an office with cool sofas, shared desks and slides, akin to those pioneered by technology firms like Google, is not enough to drastically change the way a business and its employees work.

Mr Newton continued: “Anyone can create a cool office environment but you also need to look at your processes if you want to become truly agile.

Management styles

“Management styles have to change - with agile working your team may not always be in the same place every day. Some may be working from home, some may be working on different floors of the office or from the kitchen area.

“You have to develop new types of relationships with employees based on trust.”

He added: “Agile working doesn’t work for everybody - its depends on the type of business and the people in it.

Companies need to have a business model that can respond to these changes.”

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