Good flex room ideas are often a critical part of a more fun and functional office. This is true for both traditional office spaces as well as the home office. When you have extra space, you can use it to create a better optimized workspace, whether for yourself or your team.
In this article, we explore flex room ideas that can help you create a better office space.
A flex room is basically ‘extra’ space in either your home or office that doesn’t have a set function.
In home design, this can look like spare rooms or even simply reading nooks or storage spaces that can easily be turned into whatever your heart desires. Such as media rooms, multipurpose rooms, entertainment rooms, craft rooms, music rooms, living rooms, or guest bedrooms.
Or, as we’ll explore further below, flex rooms can provide great real estate for remote and hybrid workers looking to create a better home office for themselves. Why not turn that spare bedroom into a dedicated space for working?
In a traditional office space, flex rooms are extra spaces or rooms that aren’t being used as part of the standard workplace. In other words, for whatever reason, they are not being used for desks or meeting spaces. As such, they provide a wonderful opportunity to create improved floor plans for the office.
When there is good collaboration in the workplace between HR and facility management (FM) teams, companies can and should use workplace analytics to shine a light on what their workers actually need, using this data to drive their design ideas.
Specifically, by understanding key metrics like space utilization and occupancy rate (often best accomplished with IoT sensors and a good badge system), companies can get creative with their flex rooms to make a more functional and/or collaborative workspace.
Ultimately the hybrid workplace and the employee experience are intimately linked. So employees need access to both physical offices and digital workspaces that are optimized for their needs. Flex rooms can often help you get there.
When you’re looking to turn a flex room into a usable workspace, whether that’s at home or within corporate real estate, start by considering what type of space you actually need. This isn’t about throwing in some comfortable chairs and calling it a day. It’s about making extra space more functional for whoever needs it most.
This is in line with what workplace strategist Angie Earlywine, Senior Director in the Total Workplace division of Global Occupier Services at Cushman & Wakefield, calls ‘fit for purpose.’
“One of the most important things we have to do as workplace strategists is figure out what is fit for purpose, down to the team and down to the individual,” she says, “and how does it align to the short and long term goals of the business.”
For the office, you want to use flex spaces to support your company culture while also improving workplace experience.
For example, if you are trying to foster a more flexible work culture, it makes sense to use your flex spaces to support flexible working.
What works best for your company will depend on your culture and employees. That said, the following five flex room ideas can help create a better office:
Hybrid meetings are the new norm, meaning that following hybrid meeting best practices should also be the norm. In other words, if you use hybrid meetings in your organization, you need to give employees the tools necessary to make them work.
Contemporary modern meeting room design means that your existing meeting rooms should be well-integrated for all types of meetings. But what about making a separate room that is tailor-made for hybrid ones?
This way, you can ensure you have all the necessary tools and technology to truly support your hybrid workforce in one place. This should look like Zoom/Team set-ups with a large screen for video meetings. Be sure to also provide plenty of space for social distancing for those who are physically present.
Not only will providing a dedicated space make it much easier to run hybrid meetings. You’ll also be sending a message about the importance of hybrid meetings within your organization.
Collaboration is often the key to a successful organization.
In fact, studies show that employees who collaborate report being 17% more satisfied with their jobs. Also, promoting collaboration can reduce employee turnover by 50%. This makes it a key strategy for any company looking to survive the Great Resignation.
All this points to the benefits of turning any flex space in the office into a dedicated collaboration space.
To turn your flex space into one meant for collaboration, be sure to include things like white boards, notepads, plug-ins for laptops, and a large shareable screen. Be sure to ask what employees would like to see here, too.
Now we’re talking! Because just about everyone’s dream office includes space for a nap… Or at least a place to kick up your feet for a spell or two).
One of the things people enjoy when working from home is the ability to lay on the couch when you just need a minute.
A retreat room can bring this home office perk into your office. Simply turn your flex room into a room with comfy couches, chairs, or pods. No doubt your employees will thank you.
Some companies—including big players like Google and Facebook—even provide nap spaces. Turns out Homer Simpson might have been on to something with his business hammocks!
Don’t think that game rooms aren just for fancy big-tech companies with big budgets. Game rooms can help create a sense of camaraderie and relief—even when they’re on the simpler side.
For example, at OfficeSpace pre-pandemic, we had a ‘Dutch Blitz’ room, where we’d get a small group together to play a quick game as a refresher between meetings or tasks, or at the end of the day. It was a staple in helping us foster a more collaborative culture and fun office environment.
When turning your flex room into a games room, don’t be afraid to get creative and let your inner child out. You want this to be a space where people legitimately want to hang out. Board games, video games, foosball, ping pong, and pool tables are all fun options.
If your company is using an open floor plan, then workers may benefit from a private phone booth.
Turning a flex space into a phone booth may also be a good option for organizations using either agile working or activity based workspace design.
Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve almost all spent at least some time working from a home office, albeit sometimes one that is quite ad hoc.
Of course, hybrid work is now undoubtedly here to stay. So if working from home is your new reality, then it may be time to DIY your flex space into something that can better accommodate your work needs.
If you’re a homeowner with an extra bedroom or guest room, great—you’ve got a built-in working space ready to be optimized with good interior design and decorating ideas.
But if you don’t have a complete extra room or bonus room, don’t worry. There are still lots of ways you can make your current flex space into a multitasking workspace.
When looking at your space, ensure you consider possibilities in each room. For example, if you have a:
Of course, not everyone has this much extra space with which to work. Thankfully, there are still many ways to create an at-home office that suits your needs.
Specifically, maybe it’s time to makeover your living room or dining room.
In other words, accept the reality that you are now someone who regularly works from home. A laptop on the couch likely won’t cut it anymore. Sometimes, a little home improvement goes a long way.
Try to find a spot in your living space for a small corner desk, to set up a command station. You may be able to use a divider for more privacy and to fully separate your work space from your home space. The more you can separate these two very different areas, the better.
And finally, note that many companies now offer stipends for home offices. If you’re being asked to work from home full time, see what options are available.
The best flex room ideas in the world won’t actually help your workers, unless they’re coupled with insight into what they actually need on a day-to-day basis.
To get your office flex space right, you need to use space management software to get an idea of how employees are using the office in real time.
You should also use employee surveys to check in with all your team members in real time, then adjust based on that feedback. What would your employees like to see in your flex space? Does your hybrid workforce have the physical space they need to do their best work at home?
It’s generally a good idea to use room names that are on brand. Also, to use conference room ideas that are in line with the types of meetings your team actually has.
And finally, it’s always a good practice to provide adequate wayfinding and visibility, so people can access the spaces and resources they need. This is true whether you’re outfitting multiple office locations, or simply trying to get a small extra flex space right.
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When determining what to put in your flex space, focus on accessibility and ease of use for everyone in the office. Attractive room decor is always great, but functionality is always more important.
Ultimately, the most successful workplace teams are those that have enough spaces—and the right spaces—to do their work well.
Photos: Slidebean, Jason Goodman, Uneebo Office Design, Med Badr Chemmaoui, myHQ Workspaces