Blogging has its risks. If people read them then they often come back with searching questions that require further consideration. Recently I blogged my thoughts on what people meant when they talked about agile workplaces and agile working and expressed the wider view that businesses and organisations need to meet the challenges of unforeseeable change through agile thinking.
The ink had hardly dried when I was asked. “Well that’s all very well, but Offices are a part of this then just what is the Agile Office?” – A reasonable question from someone who is looking at the organisation from a Office service point of view.
So after a couple of stiff drinks and quiet cogitation here goes with my thoughts.
Firstly, what is meant by “agile”?
The Collins English dictionary defines it as “nimble”, “quick in movement”, “mentally acute”, to which I may add “free of constraints”. Now for a go at “workplace”. But work is done in places other than offices and a wider view is required.
At AWA we define workplace as:
“the physical, information and social environment in which work tasks are performed.”
Putting the two together helps a little in getting closer to understanding the depth and richness that is embraced by the term “agile workplace” or indeed “agile office”. It means that all the services, which support people in carrying out the tasks that they do for their organisation, encourage innovation, minimise constraints and see change management as a positive and key organisational capability. It means:
- Flexibility in real estate leases.
- Ability to make rapid changes in service supply contracts.
- Greater autonomy for self-management within teams.
- Easy access to sources of internal and external information to enable novel ideas and solve problems.
- Performance measures that are linked directly to business goals and include measures of flexibility.
- Physical and virtual surroundings that are conducive to the human activities involved in work.
It is far more than the gizmos and funky office furnishings, desk sharing, hot desking, flexible working practices and remote working that characterise many popular articles. These may have their place but organisations and business sectors have different requirements and no single size fits all.
This for many of our current businesses represents a major workplace transformation – a subject I took a view upon some time ago: https://www.advanced-workplace.com/describing-workplace-transformation/
This article was written by Graham Jervis, the AWA Director of Service Management.
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Create a better workplace strategy by getting the foundations right. For more information on agile working or activity based working, contact a workplace management consultant on +44 20 7743 7110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your inquiry. Advanced Workplace Associates are based in London, United Kingdom but now work internationally across the United States of America, Asia and Europe.