How flexible offices can support the business lifecycle

"We know that the only thing we can ever really expect in life is the unexpected — so why run our businesses any differently?"


There are a number of variables that shape, push and eventually come to define a company’s lifecycle. Some of the most well known ones relate to financial investment, market-fit, talent acquisition and so on, but perhaps the most subtle but determinant factor for how a company grows and scales is the level to which flexibility is embedded in its core. Currently, flexibility is being rated as one of the top criteria in job searches by millennial employees, and this fact has been shaping the office space sector for years. According to a report by Arup and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, "companies ranging from start-ups to corporations are increasingly seeking enhanced flexibility in the office space they occupy in response to their growing number of agile employees."

The ability to adapt — to external changes in the market, internal changes in your company’s development, and even within the unexpected on the day-to-day level — is foundational to a business’s lifecycle, and modelling this same flexibility in our office spaces is now becoming a defining feature in how companies can attract talent as they grow and mature.

Whether you are a start-up, a scale-up, experiencing unprecedented growth or in a period of renewal and re-evaluation, the need for flexibility relates to every level of business operations… even down to the way a company builds and maintains their office spaces.

Here is how flexible offices contribute to company success — at every stage of its lifecycle.

efuel charging station high res

Start-Up: EFUEL Case Study

During the early phases of a business two things are for certain: resources may be a little tight, and creating connections within a network and market is key. To satisfy the latter, creating a space for a team and networking is a huge asset, but to satisfy the former, minimal investment with maximum flexibility is a necessity.

Much of this early business phase logic can be applied to EFUEL, a Swedish-based start-up that has developed electric car charging stations and is quickly becoming a leader within green energy innovation. When creating an office design for the EFUEL team, our designers at NORNORM knew that this fast growing company needed a quick plug-and-play solution that could seamlessly be adapted along their projected growth in the coming years. A subscription-based payment plan along with a solution designed to be reviewed, refurbished and re-adapted as needed was the perfect fit for this client.

Another common feature within start-ups is that, for most, they are at the beginning of building a team, and additional roles outside their core business (such as office managers, contracted interior designers and administrative assistants) are not yet present internally. For EFUEL, they needed a partner that could handle everything: design, logistics, assembly, implementation etc. At NORNORM, we have created an ecosystem of partners that handle every aspect of office design and implementation — leaving our clients to do what they do best.

Scale-up & Growth: Challengermode Case Study

During scale up and growth your focus moves from consistently looking outward towards new opportunities, to reflecting inward, building your base, and creating a team that will take you through the exponential growth you wish to achieve. Investing in your employees, creating a space you’re proud of, and continuing to strengthen your relationships with clients —these are the defining features of the growth and scale-up phase. Flexibility is also central to a scale-ups identity and development, according to Forbes, "65% of business leaders believe that scale-ups have the edge on bigger businesses when it comes to innovative initiatives, due to more nimble ways of working and a strong pool of talent." Preserving these nimble ways of working with flexible workspaces and offices shaped by the real-time needs of your team is becoming a fundamental need for today's scale-up.

For the innovative eSport platform and Swedish technology company Challengermode, flexibility was not just theoretical ‘nice-to-have’, but a practical and real time necessity. Founded in 2014, Challengermode is on a mission to make eSports truly accessible, and during their eight year run as a company they have been able to grow from a handful of people to a team of 41 spread across three continents.

When we initially designed and furnished their space, we knew it was a temporary fit and a short-term solution during the transition period to a newer, bigger office. Not only were we able to create a beautiful temporary space for the team during these transitory months, but move along with them to their new space — adapting and redesigning their workspace design to match their permanent location. Now at a freshly furnished long-term space, Challengermode was able to enable their transition with a service that stayed relevant and flexible along with their changing needs.