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The new way of agile working: 8 lessons drawn from experience

Amos Beech workplace consultants have been supporting organisations for years in the filed of the new way of working. The approach of Amos Beech to agile working is an integral one, in which they combine their areas of expertise: workplace strategy, space planning, interior design and office refurbishement and fit-out project management.
Agile working is more than just place and time independent. Agile means working more efficiently and effectively, exploiting the potential of people and developing to a future-and customer-oriented organisation. The 8 lessons are based on research many years of experience with agile working.

1. Agile Working is also for your customers

It would be good if organisations realise what agile working can mean for the customer. Will the customer get a better product faster or will he be involved more in the process? Customer demand becomes more and more multidisciplinary. The client is less asking to make him some sort of interior, but he wants to contribute ideas to develop something that is truly his.
The result of all this is the multidisciplinary team. This requires an integrated interpretation of agile working for employee, workplace interior, ICT and process. Ultimately it is a matter of a smarter, more effective and efficient organisation that is working towards customer and organisation that is future-proof and where client satisfaction is above average.

2. Agile working is different for everyone

A salesman that is always on the go and leading a nomadic existence, has different needs and is a different type of person than the office bound employee who is in accounts. 
Also managers and employees are different in needs and have other ideas. A good approach for agile working is to have a balance between specific needs, fundamentals, central goals and excecution that is decentralised. Give people and teams the space. Make sure that the work processes are more effective for everyone and that everyone works with pleasure where and when they want.

3. Agile working must get to 2033 

Agile working does not stop introducing a working environment that is time and place and independent, but asks for anticipation on future developments. The risk also exists that agile working is seen as a passing by trend that pampers a culture for fun toys and gadgets. When introducing  agile working look at geographic and demographic developments for the next 10/20 years and make sure that the organisation is prepared.

4. Agile working is more than just a paint job

With all respect to the  crafmanship of decorators but real change doesn’t come from painters or even interior designers from Glasgow. This is reflected in practice by organisations that have introduced agile working just from the physical office environment. After one or two years everyone falls back into old behavior and habits and real intrinsic cooperation is not really happening.

For decades, employees are used at one and the same way of control; “monitor the work” and are reactive. Employees have learned to place everything within this culture of rules. Because of this there emerged a culture with acquired rights. When introducing agile working it is required to skip all that at once. In practice, this is not going to work and it asks for making the change tangible. how do we appreaciate output and what does that mean for the individual?

5. Agile working proofs why you do it

Unfortunately, managers experience more often that the world around them changes much faster than their organisation. Employees are usually facilitated technologically in a better way at home than at work. Employees who at work are considered not to have any management qualities and are at the same time the president of their beloved sports association.

Continue the conversation about ideas, expectations and opportunities of agile working, discus and explore the differences and make use of the richness of insights and knowledge of the people involved. Start with a constructive discussion on the significance of agile working. That will also prevent confusion.
The last hundred years the society and economy has changed significantly under the influence of technological developments and increased prosperity. People no longer work only to survive, but enjoy more of what the world has to offer.
Insight into work has therefor changed and it now requires more personal gratification and enrichment. “Why am I doing this and for who?”. Organisations need to move in order to survive. This requires continuous adaptation of the working process and the role of the employee.

6. Agile working is a team sport

When agile working is introduced it is crucial to put a lever of trust low in the Organisation, to be successful. Puttting trust throughout the organisation does not mean letting go of responsibility, but the responsibility now lies with the employees.
Appreciate the top scorers and the people who assist. Increase commitment for the club, make employees fellow players that display the success. Make sure that the individual is a proud partner of the goals of the Organiszation.
Agile working will physically split up employees more but will prevent that they grow apart as well. More than ever collaboration is put it on the agenda of all.

7. Agile working makes everyone a manager

The management layer under the management will find it hard to change to agile working.
It is required that they lead the employees independent from place and time. The output oriented approach is a relatively new phenomenon. The term is rarely defined and every manager ends searching for the meaning.
Also for employees the introduction of agile working is often dramatic. For years they had fixed desks and fixed tasks. Now they have freedom and a greater responsibility. What will I do first today? And where? And how? And with whom? With agile working everyone is no his own manager and some people prefer to be managed. Agile working is very much dependant on the personal attention to the new role of the employees.

8. The new way of working makes who you are

Clear goals, the way of working, dealing with each other, say what you think, leave feedback, will very much have an impact on the success of agile working. Transparency contributes to an open culture and is in the interest of the individual employee and the identity of the organisation.