Agile workplaces need to strike the right balance

Meeting rooms are a lot like buses. You wait ages for one and then three become available all at once. Sometimes none turn up at all. Research by Kinnarps, which we do as part our Next Office consultancy, has found something that might not come as a great surprise. Employees are deeply frustrated with the lack of meeting room availability, often even in agile workplaces, especially locked-down project rooms.

Meetings, in general, have come to epitomise everything that’s wrong with modern work. Meetings that could have been an email. Meetings about organising other meetings. Meetings without minutes. Awkward conference calls. Even worse, video calls. Meetings in the office kitchen. Makeshift meetings that encroach on your space.

Yet the need for a specific type of meeting room continues to grow. Workplaces are now hubs for collaboration. People are spending lots more time working out of the office. The Office for National Statistics estimates that 50 percent of the UK workforce will be working remotely by 2020. These nomadic employees need space to be available and function when it’s time to meet with colleagues.

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However, it also has a great deal to do with the space that collaboration now occupies in our conception of work and what makes workplaces – and especially agile workplaces – effective. Huge swathes of modern offices are designed so that colleagues must “break away to space to work together”. For sectors such as tech, finance and legal – where mid- to long-term projects happen often and agile scrum sessions and extreme programming are all the rage – this is creating an even greater need for dedicated project rooms.