IFJ|May - June 2020
Ifj examines the pros and cons of agile workspaces and the way ahead
Alpana lath Sawai and Aadrita chatterji

Traditionally, agile working has been an employee-centric intervention with spaces designed to help workers collaborate, work across different types of seating, and so on. Increasingly, however, organizations are understanding the advantages of flexible infrastructure that allows them to use capital optimally instead of in a ‘rinse and repeat’ pattern that is no longer of service to future-ready companies.

Ar. Vistasp Bhagwagar, Founder & Principal Architect, Architect Vistasp & Associates, New Delhi, says, “Every day is not the same, it does not have the same activities necessarily, so why must one be chained to one type of work station or assigned desk? It is this thinking that has led to the need for need-based or activity-based workspaces where you could be collaborating in the morning, having a formal training midway and then a quiet session in the afternoon, followed by a formal presentation in the conference room in the evening. All these require freedom to move and the choice to select appropriate workplace settings. That is the heart of an agile work environment.”

A dynamic space, the agile office offers more with less. Ar. Bhagwagar says, “An agile office will have 20 per cent fewer workstations than a normal office; it will also have almost twice the number of typologies of workspace than a normal office. Agile offices need to cater to a varying demand of work types and thus need to offer a plethora of options such as: quiet work booths, sit-stand workstations, linear benching, and L-shaped stations for dual monitors. It is when the variety of options are available, that choice is available and true agility comes to the fore.”


Limited floorplates make effective spatial planning crucial. Architects and designers invest a lot of time understanding the mindset of organizations and the hierarchies therein. Des. Sanjyt Syngh, Founder, Sanjyt Syngh Design Studio, New Delhi, adds, “There are many factors other than ergonomics that play a role. They are space planning and circulation, lighting (which can be broken into ambient lighting and task lighting) and flexibility, to accommodate more employees.”

The reward of an architect juggling these parameters effectively is great. Ar. Sachin Shetty, Founder & Principal Architect, Int-Hab Architecture + Design Studio, Bengaluru, says, “Agile workspaces have a positive influence on office culture and foster innovation and creativity. An agile office achieves greater freedom of movement and maximal use of space by not assigning seats to employees and instead creates task-based workspaces. The layout design where leadership occupies the same space as everyone else encourages open communication and trust amongst employees. Visually-connected flexible workspaces facilitate both privacy and collaboration.”

There are many economic and cultural factors that prevail upon design intent, too. Pankaj Poddar, Cofounder, Hipcouch, Mumbai, says, “Office spaces in small towns, for instance, are different in how they are planned from an office in a city carrying out the same functions. These are things like more employees in the city, higher working hours, different employee behavior, etc. The design will always be influenced by function.”

Ar. Dinesh Panwar, Principal Architect, Urbanscape Architects, New Delhi, emphasizes cultural intent, too. He says, “Cultural consideration for design of any workplace is important as that is one parameter which actually makes the employee relate to the place where he spends most of the time of the day. Cultural references in design add invaluable nuances.”



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May - June 2020