What Is Agile Seating? Definition, Best Practices, & Guide

The word “agile” has moved through workplaces over time. Its effect is bigger than just words; it has changed how we see work itself. Agile isn’t only an idea; it’s a belief that values being flexible and trying new ways to be productive. This phenomenon’s success story is staggering—71% of US companies now weave it into their operational fabric.


At first, agile was mainly about how we do work, shaping strategies and methods. But now, it’s doing more—deciding not only how, but also where we work. Our workplaces, full of potential, are being redesigned to be adaptable and creative.


Even with more remote work, many still like being in the office. In a yearly survey by PwC about remote work, a strong 87% of workers say the office matters. It’s where they work well together and form strong relationships—a mix of being there physically and connecting professionally.


The smartest companies are shifting to a more human-centric approach. Today, workspaces aren’t just backgrounds; they’re central to how companies stand out.


As Michael Ford from Microsoft puts it: “In the past, the employee had to change for the space. Now, the space changes for the employee.” This change, brought by agile seating, shows how environments can work together with people’s needs. It’s a big shift where spaces fit well with how people work.


In this ultimate guide to agile seating, we’ll answer these questions:

  • What is agile seating?
  • What are the key features of agile seating?
  • How can technology support agile seating?
  • How can I get started with agile seating at my company?


What is agile seating?


Agile seating refers to a workspace arrangement where employees do not have assigned desks or workstations. Instead, they have the freedom to choose their seating on a daily basis depending on their tasks, preferences, and the needs of the day. This concept is closely tied to the principles of agile working and is often employed in modern office environments to promote collaboration, flexibility, and adaptability.


Agile seating can include a variety of seating options beyond just desks, such as standing desks, lounge areas, collaborative spaces, and quiet zones. The focus of agile seating is on creating a dynamic and versatile workspace that supports different work styles and encourages interaction. It emphasizes adaptability, collaboration, and choosing the most suitable workspace based on tasks and preferences.


Check out Google’s campus to see agile seating in action. 


What are the key features of agile seating?


Key features of agile seating include:

  • No Assigned Desks: Employees are not assigned permanent desks or workstations. Instead, they select a workspace when they arrive at the office or reserve one in advance.
  • Variety of Seating Options: Agile seating environments typically offer a range of seating options, such as traditional desks, standing desks, communal tables, lounges, and quiet corners. This variety allows employees to choose the setting that best suits their work style or the type of task they’re working on.
  • Promotion of Collaboration: By removing physical barriers between employees, agile seating encourages spontaneous interactions and collaboration. Employees from different teams and departments are more likely to interact and share ideas.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Agile seating enables employees to choose their workspace based on their specific needs for the day. If they need a quiet space for focused work or a collaborative area for team discussions, they can select the appropriate space.
  • Remote and Mobile Work: Agile seating complements remote and mobile work. When employees spend part of their time working from home or other locations, they can use agile seating when they’re in the office.
  • Resource Efficiency: Organizations can optimize office space utilization through agile seating. Since employees don’t have assigned desks, fewer workstations are needed, potentially reducing real estate costs.


How can sensor technology support agile seating?


While agile seating offers numerous benefits, it also presents challenges. Some employees might prefer having a dedicated workspace, and it can be challenging to manage the logistics of finding available seats, maintaining a clean and organized workspace, and ensuring fairness in seat allocation.


Sensors can play a significant role in enhancing the implementation of agile seating by providing real-time data and insights that help optimize workspace resources and improve the overall user experience. Here’s how sensors can assist with agile seating:


Occupancy Tracking: Sensors can be placed on desks, chairs, or designated areas to track occupancy in real-time. This data helps employees find available seats quickly and reduces the time spent searching for a workspace.


Space Utilization: By collecting data on which workspaces are being used and when sensors provide insights into workspace utilization patterns. This information can help organizations make informed decisions about workspace design and allocation.


Reservation Systems: Sensors can be integrated with reservation systems. When an employee books a workspace for a specific time, the sensor can indicate its availability and reserve it until the booking time ends.


Wayfinding: Sensors combined with a mobile app or digital signage can guide employees to available workspaces. This enhances the efficiency of finding a suitable place to work.


Cleanliness and Sanitation: Sensors can detect when a workspace has been used and trigger alerts for cleaning staff to sanitize the area, promoting a hygienic environment.


Personalization: Sensors can enable employees to customize their workspace preferences by recognizing their presence, such as adjusting lighting and temperature settings.


Data-Driven Insights: Over time, sensor data can provide insights into peak usage times, preferred workspaces, and overall workspace trends. This data can guide workspace design and allocation decisions.


Energy Efficiency: Sensors can be integrated with lighting and HVAC systems to optimize energy usage. When a workspace is unoccupied, these systems can be adjusted to conserve energy.


Agile Reporting: Managers and workplace administrators can access reports and dashboards that provide insights into workspace utilization, helping them make informed decisions about optimizing workspace layouts.


How can I get started with agile seating at my company?


Implementing agile seating in a company requires careful planning and execution to  to strike the right balance between flexibility and the practical needs of your employees.


Here are some best practices to consider when providing agile seating at your company:

  1. Communication the benefits. Clearly communicate the benefits of agile seating: collaboration, flexibility, and workspace choice. Introduce agile seating gradually to help employees adjust. Consider piloting the concept in a smaller area before rolling it out company-wide.
  2. Provide versatility. Provide a variety of seating options to accommodate different work styles and preferences. Include quiet spaces, collaborative areas, standing desks, lounge areas, and private rooms for focused work or meetings. 
  3. Prioritize wellness. Use ergonomic furniture and equipment to support employee health and comfort. Standing desks, adjustable chairs, and proper lighting are important considerations.
  4. Assess technology and adaptability needs. Equip workspaces with tech essentials and movable furniture for changing needs.
  5. Involve employees. Involve employees in the planning process. Seek their input on seating preferences, types of spaces needed, and potential challenges they foresee. Gather regular feedback to refine the agile seating setup and enhance user experience.
  6. Implement a reservation system. Consider implementing a reservation system for meeting rooms or specific workspaces, especially if your agile seating setup includes limited or high-demand spaces.
  7. Provide personal storage. Create secure storage options for employees’ personal belongings, such as lockers or designated storage areas, since they won’t have assigned desks.
  8. Plan for collaboration and privacy. Designate specific areas for collaborative work. These zones can have whiteboards, comfortable seating, and technology tools to facilitate teamwork. Create enclosed spaces or phone booths for private conversations or focused work.
  9. Evaluate continuously. Regularly assess the effectiveness of agile seating through surveys, usage data, and employee feedback. Use this information to refine the setup over time.


Implementing agile seating can transform how employees work and interact, but it requires thoughtful design, clear communication, and a commitment to ongoing improvement based on employee needs and feedback.


Summing up


In conclusion, the trajectory of “agile” within workplaces is a remarkable journey that has significantly impacted how we perceive and engage with work. Beyond its conceptual essence, it represents a mindset that embraces flexibility and innovation as drivers of productivity. 


While its origins primarily pertained to shaping work methodologies, the evolution of agile has expanded its purview to encompass not just the “how,” but also the “where” of work. Workspaces, the hives of potential, have been reimagined to embody adaptability and nurture ingenuity.


Even amid the era of remote work, the allure of the office remains steadfast. It serves as the nucleus where collaboration thrives, relationships flourish, and the fusion of physical presence and professional rapport prevails.


As you embark on this journey, consider the gradual introduction of agile seating. Remember, every step counts in fostering a workspace that resonates with the dynamism of modern work culture, propelling your organization toward heightened collaboration, innovation, and productivity.


AVUITY can help your workplace enjoy all of the benefits of agile seating, with a suite of hardware and software products that make booking space easy – such as room displays, interactive maps, and a mobile app. Learn more about VuBook here and our mobile booking app here.

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