Commentary

Planning an agile workplace? Here are some things you need to know.

A well-designed agile workspace will improve your overall use of space, making real estate more cost-effective for your company.

April 17, 2018
workers unpack moving boxes

Rather than be left behind, design an agile workplace to improve your overall use of space while making your real estate more cost-effective for your company.

Formation before function

Agile methodology was conceived as a management concept to speed IT projects, such as software development, forward quickly. It calls for tasking tight, agile teams with solving problems and completing small “snack-able” tasks within a larger project, rather than assigning a large team in long, draw-out assignments. In essence, baby steps.

“….nearly 80 percent of executives agree that the future workforce will be structured more around projects and collaborative teams than by job function.”

Agility is becoming an essential ingredient for success in today’s digitally disrupted economy, where companies are forced to respond quickly or risk being left behind. No wonder, then, that companies and industries attuned to the Future of Work are embracing agile methodology and the agile workplace. ‘Swarming’ as Gartner has dubbed it, is becoming the dominant mode of work. As Accenture reports, nearly 80 percent of executives agree that the future workforce will be structured more around projects and collaborative teams than by job function.

Out-nimble the competition

“In the workplace, agility means open, flexible, collaborative space…and plenty of it.”

To achieve agility, companies, institutions, even government agencies need to make sure their workplace fits the bill too.  In the workplace, agility means open, flexible, collaborative space…and plenty of it.  But within that context, how should the space look and feel?

8 ways you can implement agility

Here are 8 things JLL Workplace Strategy experts say companies need to consider when planning the perfect agile workplace.

  1. Agile is about openness, connectedness and flexibility. Simplify the environment as much as possible before adding walls or buying expensive furniture.
  2. One of the biggest strengths of Agile is that it puts the user as the focal point of the solution, which should also be considered for an agile team’s space. Agile work is also about cultural and organizational change. Consider team members’ needs when designing space, and an agile mindset to change management.
  3. Agile environments aren’t always just about teamwork—they’re also about providing a choice of workspaces for different kinds of work. Be sure to provide complementary areas for isolated “heads-down” work. You don’t need fixed desks for every person, but a selection of individual, unassigned workspaces that team members can reserve on a first-come, first-served basis.
  4. Make a space for stand-up meetings. Agile methodology emphasizes short stand-up meetings over lengthy sit-downs, so consider table heights, adjustability and mobility to accommodate stand-up get-togethers. Video for remote team members may also be needed.
  5. Agile working should be exciting and inspiring. Inspire the buzz with the colors and furnishings that set the tone of the space.
  6. Keep your agile space visible. The agile space should advertise the benefits of agile work to the internal team and neighboring teams, as well as to the rest of the company, visitors, and clients.
  7. Messiness can be a critical part of agile working. Vertical surfaces for pin-up, Whiteboards, monitors, burn-down charts and other visible signs of creativity and collaboration will inevitably become part of the space, so make it accessible and organized.
  8. Don’t get too attached to your current workplace layout. Agile organizations have a tendency to periodically reconfigure their structures, reteam and pivot in new directions. Your workplace should be as agile as your business strategy, and designed as a kit-of-parts that adjusts as your teams’ size and needs change

Summary

The agile workplace has clear benefits beyond inspiring creativity, workflow and productivity. A well-designed agile workspace will improve your overall use of space, making real estate more cost-effective for your company. And, creating a new design is also an opportunity to reduce your company’s carbon footprint and costs through new green and sustainable materials and technologies. A sustainable office can improve productivity, too, by boosting employee health and wellbeing.

Agile work 101 (terminology)

Heartbeat retrospective

  • Meeting held regularly in which scrum team reflects on most significant events to have occurred since last HR and identifies areas for improvement.

 Information radiator

  • A highly-visible display that provides team with up-to-date scrum information at a glance. A scrum team might use more than one information radiator.

 Scrum

  • A process framework used to manage product development and other knowledge work.

 Sprint

  • The period of time set for a specific project, typically 2 – 4 weeks.

 Scrum Master

  • Person who ensures that the scrum team abides by agile values and follows all agreed-on practices during the scrum.

 Quick design session

  • A whiteboard session between two or more team members

Agile space 101 (space)

Co-create Space

  • An open forum space for communication, with areas for sitting and standing, designed to encourage staff to walk up and participate.

Sprint Space

  • A space that facilitates agile development – fast-paced interactions that speed decision making and information flow.

Think Space

  • A space that allows a user to sit on their own or with a colleague, but blocks out other distractions.

Innovation Studio

  • A project space designed to encourage cross-pollination, sharing of ideas and making thinking visible across multiple disciplines.

Demountable Meeting Pod

  • A pod constructed in less than one hour and built to any size to create a discrete, temporary meeting area with reticulating air and three modes of lighting. It has clear, frosted, pinnable and whiteboard movable panels. Flexible ceiling sprinklers allow pods to be placed anywhere within a larger floor space.

Like what you read?