Blog 09 Apr 2020 2 min. reading time

What to consider when refurbishing your office to a flex-office

Whilst the demand for working from home and investment in collaborative technology grows, a stronger focus on higher utilisation and densification of space will drive efficiencies, resulting in limited space available.

If you’re looking into doing an office refurbishment and re-thinking your office space concept, now it is the time to do it. With a lot of employees working currently from home and with the rise of remotely working among the millennials, the need to provide desks, storage space and office facilities for all individuals at the same time has become obsolete.

This blog highlights some of the challenges as well of the wins some companies went through when re-utilized their current offices and took the step from a fixed workplace to a flexible working strategy.

The principles of a flex office are simple: dedicated spaces with self-service workstations in a shared, open, flexible and connected office space. With reduction of costs, increased employee productivity, well-being and mobility, as well as digitalization of workplaces, the concept of flex offices has gradually entered within a lot of companies worldwide.

The revolution of designing a digital workspace

When it comes to adopting emerging technologies and moving towards digital transformation, many French companies are still reluctant to change. Other companies, on the other hand, have recognized the need for flexibility and mobility of employees and have decided to embark on the revolution of rethinking and redesigning traditional models in favour of open and efficient workplaces and digital experiences for their employees. This trend has been now set by companies such as Sanofi, AXA, Capgemini, Deloitte, PwC and Danone: all have focused on a true digitalization of their company and a transformation to a flex office.

Marc Zuili, CIO, Deloitte France, recognizes that everything is digital driven nowadays and that this affects the way employees work and also what they expect from their companies in terms of services and experiences provided. Deloitte has totally adapted their workplace to be a flex office. They offer various services to their employees, so each consultant or partner can freely work in an assigned working zone and operate every service through smartphones.

At AXA France, open spaces and new meeting spaces are encouraging collaboration between teams and represent the start of a real cultural transformation. By now, more than 2,000 AXA employees have been encouraged and supported to evolve towards an activity-based spatial organization.

When moving to the new headquarters, Capgemini embraced the new ways of working and it is one of the first flex offices of Capgemini with desk sharing. This project, also called “The 147”, is a continuation of a global plan for the transformation and modernization of real estate, conducted over the last three years, consisting of consolidating the Capgemini Group's various sites to offer the functionalities and services corresponding with the real needs of employees.

When companies are moving more towards a flexible or activity-related work style, this greatly contributes to the possibility of optimizing the use of space. When companies are moving more towards a flexible or activity-related work style, this greatly contributes to the possibility of optimizing the use of space.

The return on investment of space refurbishing

The costs of refurbishing an office to accommodate changes companies go through, to meet needs of employees for collaboration and meeting-up more than working in silo’s, often pale into significance when compared to the rent tenants are paying over the life of the building.

By reviewing lease terms and budget costs for refurbishment, it can be clear to see the substantial costs benefits a refurbishment will deliver.

Furthermore, investment in new technological, and electrical infrastructure can deliver reduced running costs and enable companies to comply with their corporate responsibilities. A well designed and comprehensive refurbishment can also offer the chance for a building to achieve a BREEAM certificate sustainability standard.

Deloitte in the UK has already adopted agile working and implemented new activity-based offices. Deloitte in the UK has already adopted agile working and implemented new activity-based offices.

The rise of the flex office: advantages of the offices of the future

The new generation’s work mentality, as well as their fast adoption of emerging technologies, have required a rework of the workplace strategy and company culture, with real impact on the managerial dimension, HR and space utilization.
What are the main advantages of refurbishing current offices to flex offices?


(1) Flexibility

Imagine, laptop and smartphone in hand, the employee moves to a different office space every day and spends time in collective spaces like the cafeteria or lounge… No more fixed workstations for maximum flexibility. Employees are free to work where they want, in conditions that most suit them.

It is the “no fixed office” which allows these daily exchanges between employees of different departments, encouraging collaboration and improving creativity, and allows working in more pleasant and agile workspaces.

Shared office spaces are a way to optimize unused office space, which is, for example for Paris, estimated at 50% to 60% over the year. Adopting a flex office concept has therefore also economical implications and reasons: removing unused furniture and providing less workstations by diversifying work environments and focusing on zones and providing other services useful to employees (cafes, meeting & co-working zones, relax- and play-zones, quiet rooms). When rethinking the workplace space, companies choose to focus on the well-being of employees.


(2) Cost reduction & efficient space

Shared office spaces are a way to optimize unused office space, which is, for example for Paris, estimated at 50% to 60% over the year. Adopting a flex office concept has therefore also economic implications and reasons: removing unused furniture and providing less workstations by diversifying work environments and focusing on zones and providing other services useful to employees (cafes, meeting & co-working zones, relax- and play-zones, quiet rooms). When rethinking the workplace space, companies choose to focus on the well-being of employees.

When companies are moving more towards a flexible or activity-related work style, this greatly contributes to the possibility of optimizing the use of space. When companies are moving more towards a flexible or activity-related work style, this greatly contributes to the possibility of optimizing the use of space.

(3) Breaking the silos of departments

Beyond the gain in health at work and especially in cost reduction, the flex office is a question of management and communication. Companies which are traditionally organized into departments and distinct territories and that dared to switch to a flex office have had to “break the existing silos”. In a flex office, employees can regroup and meet based on the projects they are involved in and their availability.

Breaking the silos of departments Breaking the silos of departments

Recipe for success: providing the right technologies

In order to have a successful flex-office, it is necessary to deploy the right technology and encourage all employees to make this change. From audio-visual equipment, options to work remotely, to platforms to control services in the building (light, temperature, space occupancy, finding colleagues, insight in desk occupancy, self-serviced dynamic storage - all of these smart digital tools are essential. On the one hand to enable employees to move towards a flexible workstyle and on the other hand to help facility managers efficiently manage this kind of office spaces.

Another example of technology implemented at the core of a workplace strategy is the real-time data from different systems that will make maintenance of the workplace more efficient. By identifying which office areas are used most, for example, to inform cleaning schedules or charge different business units for the energy and space they use. By using smart technology, employee productivity can increase and this also impacts the company’s business results.

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