The Agile Workplace

With an agile and perhaps even nomadic workforce, the office as a space will become even more important as an expression of the culture, values and identity of an organisation. Its role too will change: no longer is it simply a place to work, the agile office is a place to meet, to interact and even to relax. To do this effectively it will need careful and considered design and fit out.

Fundamental to the success of an agile work environment is a shift in business culture. This can only occur if agile working is embraced by everybody in an organisation from senior management down to the most junior of workers. For this to happen good communication is essential; everybody in an organisation needs to understand why the change is being implemented and how it will impact them if they are to accept it.

The workforce will need to be clear on the rules and protocols for working in an agile environment, for example where, when and how they are expected to work to maximise their productivity. Workplace etiquette may need to evolve too; for example, ensuring a clear-desk policy in hot-desking areas or communal areas or keeping electronic calendars up to date so that people’s whereabouts are known to all.

For those in charge of agile working teams, this new environment may require the development of new management skills to ensure these teams work effectively while managing employees in this environment will need to focus on what an employee achieves and how they achieve it.

For employees, it can be difficult to keep informed of work developments if they work remotely and for them to network and bond with other team members.

IT is critical to workers’ ability to share information and work remotely. Technology can include: mobile phones, laptops and tablets, video- and telephone-conferencing, wireless networks and virtual private networks (VPNs), which use secure connections to the company information system.

According to the CBI/Accenture employment trends survey 2015:  52% of businesses say that the biggest obstacle to implementing flexible working is ensuring the right technology infrastructure is in place to enable fully effective working by employees from locations outside the workplace.

The workspace needs to be designed to facilitate this new way of working and to reinforce an organisation’s business objectives - in terms of office layout one size does not fit all.