There are a few names for the Agile work environment, AWS (Alternate Workplace Strategies) ABW (Activity Based Working) etc, but the premise is that we are doing away with individually isolated and stagnant cube farms, that see employees boxed in and restricted in their communication channels. These new places create open spaces that encourage collaboration and choice for the employee to utilise and are enabled through technology and carefully crafted workspaces.
Tom Mulhern wrote an article on alternative workplace strategies that stated: “The basic premise of AWS is using less real estate to support more performance. The people are happier because they spend more time being productive in places outside the office – client sites, home, coffee shops nearer to their homes – and less time commuting and polluting. When people do come into the office, they use their time to collaborate and build connections to each other and to the organisation’s culture and brand.”
Jones Lang LaSalle stated: “ABW is a workplace strategy that provides people with a choice of settings for a variety of workplace activities. Rather than forcing individuals to undertake all their work at one setting, ABW allows people to physically locate themselves where it is most suitable for them to complete their work.”
All these flexible mobility environments require enabling technology to support these great initiatives and planning for this flexibility means understanding what the outcome is that you desire.
Look at how you work
There needs to be a move away from the fixed desk with a phone and a desktop PC connected to the wired corporate LAN, to an agile, mobile workforce that does away with the notepad and pen and all notes are taken on the mobile device.
Decisions relating to technology will allow greater flexibility over the cohesion of the workforce and retaining information and storing documentation, which will also assist in the knowledge transfer and loss of IP when contractors and workers move on to greener pastures. These devices may be the corporate laptop that seamlessly transitions from wired docking station to corporate wireless and back again. This same laptop can connect to the wireless presentation device in meeting rooms, which will allow annotation on the projected presentation and with edits crafted during the meeting mailing directly when the meeting ends. Meeting room booking systems that supplement the MS Exchange environment to maximise usage of the room and enable greater management of these valuable resources. Secure printing to ensure we take greater care over what is printed and when, which has the potential for great cost savings.
Why do we bother!
Deploying technology that significantly upsets the status quo is a challenge, but challenges bring out the best in us. All the way from the boardroom to the cubicle occupier, changing the way work is conducted, whether through a significant change of environment or the implementation of new technologies, requires significant capital investment and unwavering executive support.
With the demographics in our workforce changing, the need to remain valid is a driver!
The generation that is still in school will be much more drastic in their arrogances and attitude to working and earning money.
“The ‘net gen’ or digital natives have grown up with the internet and use technology in a very different way to other generations. They are learning with the internet, use SMART interactive white boards in their class rooms and carry with them more computing power than their predecessors had in their workplace.” (P. Ross)
This group of ambitious individuals “will be the generation that moves the goal posts – the first to be able to live on line, to read on screen and to be happy with less privacy and the ubiquitous connectivity that still leaves digital immigrants out in the cold.” (P. Ross) Personally, I like the warmth of relevance!
The Reshaping the Workplace conference takes place in Sydney this May. Attend to learn how your organisation can achieve an agile space and methodology for today and tomorrow’s generation.