Adopting Agility in Restaurant Workplaces

Chris Fell
‘Agile workspace’, is a popular buzz phrase and known as choice or flexible working. Many companies are aiming to create dynamic working environments that facilitate a productive and creative work ethic by offering a variety of different working solutions, enabling employees to choose the way that want to work.

This can be anything from ‘flexi-desks’ to the reworking of the entire work space to incorporate maximum flexibility and minimum constraints. The goal is to empower staff to utilise collaborative spaces, concentrate individually and to bring people, connectivity and technology together in a unique way, to optimise work.

Whilst there are some clients creating collaborative working environments in their restaurants, it’s still not widely recognised or as prevalent as agile working office spaces. Faithful+Gould have been recently working with a leading global institution whose goal was to go beyond providing agility on the working office floor to designing and refreshing their restaurant space layout at their London headquarters. Although this is the first agile restaurant the client has in their estate, London provides potential for the ideas and concepts to be replicated globally. The aim was to create a dynamic space where employees would be empowered to utilise an alternative area to meet their requirements.

Faithful+Gould have been recently working with a leading global institution whose goal was to go beyond providing agility on the working office floor to designing and refreshing their restaurant space layout at their London headquarters.

Our client formed working groups with staff who would be using the facility to fully understand their requirements and ensure the new space would capture the various seating and working environments staff wanted. They wanted to offer their staff diversity in the workplace, beyond the office floors. Some of the main negative impacts to productivity at work were interruptions and surging noise levels1. Many of their/our client’s offices now use an open-plan layout, meaning some struggle to concentrate and find moments to really focus. By utilising the restaurant, this client has been able to introduce an extra agile working environment, that offers their workers a place to find some relief from those collaborating, taking calls and working (perhaps noisily) around them.

To enable this, the project scope consisted of reconfiguring the existing space layout to incorporate a games area and provide a variety of agile furniture solutions including tables, booths and sofas all with some level of integrated IT and AV solutions. The aim was to promote a better environment for colleagues to share meals, engage in a quick catch up or even fresh workspace to work independently. Improving IT capabilities provided a smarter way of working by offering existing staff a choice or option to choose where and how to work.

Recently, there have been several studies examining the positive link between agile working environments and health and wellbeing. Some suggest that providing the option of different working spaces and environments can boost morale and active use of these different environments can promote a more open workforce. A further benefit from adopting agile work environments is the potential to reduce carbon footprints. Not everyone uses their desk all day, so by using ‘hot-desks’, offices can reduce the amount of areas they are not fully utilising all day, every day and therefore save on energy consumption and costs.

Kate Vine of Perkins+Will comments “They realise that it's an asset to have their spaces working harder for them. Other clients have found, that their restaurants are empty outside of their core operating hours and they need to try and maximise their use. The restaurant has become an extension of their workspace and in most cases an agile working programme”

The design of the project was closely coordinated with the internal ‘Change Champions’ and feedback sessions arranged every two weeks. This enabled the employees to become involved with the process and gain ownership of the final product.

Faithful+Gould provided Project Management, Quantity Surveying and Principle Designer services and worked alongside Troup Bywaters & Anders Engineering Partnership and Perkins+Will to deliver the project over a challenging timescale.

References:

1 http://www.hrreview.co.uk/analysis/analysis-l-d/karen-plum-benefits-agile-working-environment/105225

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