Making Agile Working Work

Caitlyn Staples
Many organisations are looking closely at their real estate portfolios to ensure efficiency, and to define optimum space configured for best use. Cultural and behavioural change is an important factor.

The Space Challenge

Cities across the UK are in danger of running out of high-end commercial office space, with tenants currently feeling the pressure in a landlord’s market. As a result companies are looking to occupy space more efficiently, optimising their investments in people, technology and the space itself.

Stepping Out of the Historical Comfort Zone

For most companies aiming to be market-ready and to outstrip their competitors, a new approach to workspace is needed. The tendency is to stick to historic practices, rather than challenging themselves to move out of their comfort zone. Linking the aims for the office space to the company’s wider strategic objectives is the best starting point for positive change. Investment can then be proactive rather than reactive.

Not Just a Financial Investment

This can be an excellent opportunity to change how things are done in the workplace. For many companies, it’s a chance to engage with staff to develop a mutually beneficial collaborative culture.

This can be an excellent opportunity to change how things are done in the workplace.

RICS defines agile working as “the ability to think on your feet and use your property to enhance your business by getting the most out of the people in your office for the longest possible time.” Most organisations aspire to this, typically driven by efficiency aims, but they often fail if staff are not consulted and involved.

Plan to Succeed

It’s useful to consider the workspace in terms of the following elements: innovation, technology, culture, wellbeing, collaboration, flexibility, and tasks and spaces (the latter is often referred to as agile working).

Culture should be seen as the operational and behavioural change affecting people for the medium to long term, exceeding the life of the workspace project. This is usually the hardest element to change.

Overcoming Barriers

Implementing a behavioural change initiative that meets the project’s overarching aim and objectives needs careful planning. We have found the following three components are key to a successful outcome:

  1. Leadership and sponsorship - a clear vision is needed, led by pivotal individuals in the organisation. The vision should be effectively communicated to staff, and there should be a forum for addressing resistance, from understanding the rationale and business benefits to specific impact on personal daily activty. The behavioural change will be reinforced by simple rules as well as early adoption and endorsement by leaders and sponsors who set the precedent that encourages staff to determine ‘am I doing this right?’
  2. Hearts and minds approach to the change management. This is a proven Faithful+Gould strategy, where we ensure that staff are fully engaged and involved in the journey to creating their new workspace. We work to ensure the end user understands where they fit into the plan and what is expected of them. This enables them to buy into the aims and understand the part they have to play in the overall vision for success.
  3. IT enablement – Having all the key enablers in place for people to work in an agile way is paramount and fully comprehending the need for investment in the right IT solution is a vital enabler. Creating an IT solution in a newly agile environment that provides all the expected functionality makes tasks easier to achieve, and is therefore a catalyst for accelerated acceptance of agile working.

Implementing a behavioural change initiative that meets the project’s overarching aim and objectives needs careful planning.

Successful Outcomes

More inviting and refreshing workspaces, beneficial to people’s wellbeing, are achieved. Our clients also report a more engaged and energised workforce, who feel more valued and are retained in the business. Engaged people talking positively about their workspace attracts new talent. Freedom to move gives a renewed sense of pride and trust increasing efficiency and productivity as people find new ways to do things better. The creation of shared spaces that meet everyone’s needs leads to more collaborative working. Future-proofing, to ensure flexibility to meet tomorrow’s needs as well as today’s, can also be prioritised.

Professional Help to Get the Best From Your Workspace

Faithful+Gould offers a unique workspace solution, beginning with identifying what is most important to our clients’ organisations and their staff. Often partnering with our parent company Atkins, our design capability, wellbeing expertise, and integrated programme and project services underpin project, cost, and cultural measures for success. Our Move Management services including phasing and churn options enable clients to focus on core business operations, leaving Faithful+Gould to deliver a successful change management initiative.

We provide our clients with a workspace change and engagement manager, to lead the initiative alongside in-house management, engaging with key stakeholders to successfully deliver operational and cultural changes.

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