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10 Keys to Success with an Agile Work Environment

How can you tell if your company is a good
fit for an agile work environment?

Ian Morely

By Ian Morley

In last week’s blog, we took a look at how the agile work environment is being implemented today, and discussed some of the benefits you can realize and challenges you should prepare for.

If you missed last week’s blog, you can read it here: What Does the Agile Work Environment Look Like?

This week, we’ll show you how to tell if your company is well-suited to make the move to an agile work environment and provide some essential strategies for success.

Are you considering moving to an agile work environment?

If you are involved in strategic planning for corporate real estate, the agile work environment is certainly an idea that’s on your radar. It’s been an ongoing topic of conversation at all the industry conferences and events, and it’s no wonder: with as much as 60 percent of corporate office space sitting unused every day, moving to an agile work environment (also called “free address”) can save you a bundle. Companies can expect to cut real estate costs by 20 percent or more.

So how can you tell if your company is a good fit for an agile work environment? Will your employees accept the change? How will it affect productivity and operations? Read on to learn about factors that make it likely that your company can be successful with an agile work environment, situations where an agile work environment might not be the right choice, and tips you need to know to ensure success.

8 signs your company is well-suited for an agile work environment

If many of the following factors accurately describe your company, you’re in a great position to begin the move to an agile work environment:

  1. You have an upcoming lease renewal or move to a new building. This is perfect opportunity to introduce a new way of working that benefits both the company and your employees.

  2. Property costs are too high and you’re looking for ways to reduce cost by supporting more employees in less space, without the capital expense of building smaller and smaller cubicles.

  3. Your c-suite is actively driving a cultural change to a more open, collaborative environment to inspire innovation. A move to an agile work environment is most successful when it is supported from the top.

  4. The competition for talent in your industry demands that you find new ways to attract and support millennials. The cool features of an agile work environment (especially when combined with activity based working) can be the thing that tips the scale in your favor for top candidates.

  5. Your business also demands a constant stream of fresh ideas and creative solutions, which requires the type of collaborative environment that an agile work environment provides.

  6. A large portion of your workforce is consulting or working outside the office. That means vacant desks and wasted space.

  7. You already have a flexible work from home policy. Your employees need an infrastructure that makes it easy for them to work from anywhere.

  8. Much of your workspaces is not utilized consistently: many desks sit empty every day. You have an opportunity for a significant ROI when you invest in an agile work environment.

When an agile work environment might not be right for your company

If these situations exist at your company, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t implement an agile work environment, but you must be aware that you’ll face a bigger challenge in doing so.

You don’t have buy-in from senior management. The c-suite must champion the change to an agile work environment, and ideally live by it themselves. Corporations who have successfully made this change have executives working in an agile work environment along with the rest of the company. This sends a powerful message to employees about management’s commitment to the new way of working. It’s also great for communication between employees at all levels and supports that collaborative culture you’re after.

If you’re not committed to a culture of collaborative working that drives innovation, it’s not as easy to rationalize an agile work environment.

Reluctance or inability to renovate. If your current fit-out is cubicle-based and you’re not able to create more open space and collaborative space (both formal and informal), you may not be ready to make the move, particularly when you want to implement activity based working along with an agile work environment.

10 keys to success with an agile work environment

At Serraview, we have worked with many corporations all over the world to enable them in successfully moving to smart buildings, the agile work environment and activity based working. Here is some advice from the trenches that can help you achieve the ROI and business changes you’re looking for.

1. Start with the right project team. It’s imperative that real estate, HR and technology work together so all the pieces of the puzzle fit together to create a successful outcome with an agile work environment.

2. Recruit champions from all levels and business units who can support the transition and motive their groups to not only accept change but even get excited about it. (TIP: Personal assistants and executive assistants are great people to have on your side, since they interact with staff at many levels.)

3. When needed, bring in external consultants with the right expertise and knowledge of your industry to advise you.

4. Design neighborhoods that take groups with special requirements into account, such as segregating lawyers who require private meeting space and call center staff who are on the phone all day.

5. Determine the right mix of flexible working spaces, private working areas and breakout spaces for collaboration.

6. Don’t be too aggressive with ratios. Most companies start with 1 workpoint for every 1.2 employees using the space. You don’t want people having trouble finding a place to work because all desks are taken.

7. Make sure you have a good wayfinding system in place before the move to an agile work environment so that employees can quickly and easily find the right spot to work and find colleagues. Choose a system that doesn’t force them to book desks in advance or to check into desks; that inhibits their productivity. And don’t make the mistake of developing a bespoke tool that won’t be supported or updated going forward.

8. Choose personal computing technology that supports mobility, such as VDI or lightweight laptops, access to docking stations and large monitors where needed, soft-phone technology and follow-me printing.

9. Be sure to provide adequate storage, typically in the form of electronic lockers. That being said, though, you must also plan and prepare business units to reduce paper. Conduct audits early in the planning stage and determine where records can be discarded or moved to electronic document storage.

10. Get a handle on your current space utilization levels. It’s essential that you do this in the early planning stages of your project. Implement the right utilization data collection technology and workplace management software to provide accurate data to help you make solid plans to move forward with an agile work environment. To learn more about options for collecting utilization data, read our helpful guide to Measuring Workplace Utilization.

Related article: Top 3 Challenges of Moving to an Agile Work Environment

If you are considering a move to an agile work environment, you need a reliable workplace management system. If you have been getting by with manual audits or an antiquated IWMS that doesn’t provide reliable data or real-time space planning, that’s a major handicap.

If you want to learn more about how to evaluate and compare the latest workplace management tools, get your free copy of our informative guide 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.

Whitepaper: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software

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