The spaces in which we work have changed dramatically within a single lifetime. Perhaps the most dramatic change comes from how much of our work is now done in a workspace which we can’t even see, which doesn’t exist physically; because the digital space in which we work has transformed services, experiences and entire companies beyond recognition.
This digital workspace can’t be ignored – those entering the workforce now have lived their whole lives with access to the internet and take for granted the advantages which that connection brings.
As organisations struggle to utilise the data and functionality at their fingertips, they risk disenfranchising those who expect the flexibility, immediacy and autonomy they have outside the office to be reflected within it.
Agile working isn’t a dream, it is a necessity. Organisations focused on providing employees – as well as customers – with great experience, will grow far beyond those for whom employee engagement isn’t a driver. In research by Gallup we can see that an employee focused workspace creates greater engagement, which - in turn - affects key business outcomes.
But, What Does Agile Working Look Like?
Providing an agile workspace is about bringing together – intelligently – our physical and digital workplaces to provide employees with an experience which works for them, as well as the organisation .
A decade (or three) of employees feeling that technological advances have been grasped by organisations to their own advantage, rather than providing better experience for staff, may make some wary. Agile working isn’t about promoting hot desking to provide less, and smaller, desks for cost reduction, or giving employees smartphones to ensure they answer emails at the weekend.
Agile working has to be about providing employees with the advantages of flexibility and autonomy which digital solutions can provide. It’s also about physical workspaces which promote collaboration, joint working and learning. Because, for organisations, it has become increasingly recognised that employees are what differentiate in an environment where choice is always growing - it’s essential to be the company in which great employees will thrive.
The companies who can bring together physical and digital spaces to create great experiences will be the ones who excel – both for customer and employee engagement.
So, How Does a Business Embrace Agile Working?
Transformation starts by understanding what’s possible, allowing the creation of a vision which embraces a realistic but forward-looking concept. Next, a roadmap can be created, identifying opportunities and driving innovation.
Design and implementation of any changes will only be effective when built against a true understanding of the ‘as-is’ and the ‘vision’. Additionally, it’s essential that this is done against a background which encompasses the whole of the ‘bigger picture’ ensuring the focus is providing a better experience for employees, not just customers or shareholders.
Final steps will involve companies exploring the outcomes of their development to identify opportunities for optimisation and scale.
This improved functionality we’re calling an agile workspace, should be providing benefits for companies and employees alike.
In a world where we can use a phone to find our nearest chemist, confirm they’re open and get directions to a parking space, individuals don’t expect to get lost finding a meeting room, struggle to locate an employee in their own office or want to face the frustration of not being able to book an empty desk.
It’s essential that companies look at employee concerns about their workspace and offer solutions, it’s also essential that these solutions are part of a joined-up picture which provides flexibility and autonomy to ensure employees feel enabled and trusted.
Engaged employees provide better service to customers, are more productive, are less likely to leave taking their skills with them, and instead are more likely to encourage like-minded peers to join firms they perceive to be good for them.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. I am an innovation strategist that connects customer, employee and brand experiences. My passion lies in building ecosystems to solve business problems by combining creativity and technology.