You have probably heard of the term Agile. And if you are in the project management or development industry the word probably means more to you than simply the ability to move quickly.
Agile methodology has gained popularity over the years and chances are that you stumbling onto this article because your organization also implements some form of the methodology.
However, following the agile methodology is not simply how you work but also where you work and which environment you work in.
We are referring to the agile work environment which coincidently is something that is not just adopted by teams following the agile methodology.
So, if you are wondering about the agile work environment, what it is, how it can help you and your team, and whether you should consider implementing it you have come to the right place.
Here is everything you need to know about the agile work environment.
What is an Agile Work Environment?
Let’s start off by defining what is an Agile work environment.
Simply put, an Agile work environment (generally another word for agile working) is aimed at optimizing space and providing flexibility to employees to be able to adequately accommodate their changing demands.
This environment mirrors the needs and requirements of the Agile methodology and lets you and your team cater to your physical space in accordance with practices that work towards your organization’s goals and the company’s culture.
This often means doing away with the assigned seating model that is typical for an office setup and moving into a non-assigned seating model plan.
By using an Agile workspace rather than the usual typical office style layout, companies better utilize available space by optimizing the utilization of workspace available. We will discuss the benefits of adopting such an environment in detail below.
The Agile Work Environment is structured in such a way that it gives way for employees and leaders to create a culture where customer interaction and satisfaction come first. The environment supports transparency, collaboration, and openness.
Essentially, such an environment is seen to focus predominately on employees and their performance rather than being too concerned with where they are working.
What is Agile Methodology?
Before we move on to more details about the Agile work environment, just in case you need it here is a reminder of what Agile is.
Agile is a type of project management methodology. This methodology takes an iterative approach to project management breaking up the project lifecycle into smaller chunks or sprints.
The aim is to deliver work in small increments while focusing on delivering value to customers.
Here are the 12 Agile principles that can help you and your team implement and execute the agile methodology:
- “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”
- “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”
- “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for the shorter timescale.”
- “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”
- “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”
- “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”
- “Working software is the primary measure of progress.”
- “Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.”
- “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”
- “Simplicity- the art of maximizing the amount of work not done- is essential.”
- “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.”
- “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”
What are the Benefits of an Agile Work Environment?
When adopting such a flexible environment in your office or workspace there are multiple benefits that you can gain.
These benefits are not just for the employer, but there are also ways that employees can gain advantages from the change in physical structure.
Benefits Gained by Employers
Here are some of the benefits you can gain from such an environment as an employer:
1. You Gain Loyalty and Retain Talent
Flexibility is now what many employees seek. The times of simply ‘work work work’ is over and individuals are now seeking work-life balance.
Offering flexibility in working caters to this need of prioritizing not just work but things outside of someone’s job description.
Giving employees this flexibility and leeway allow them to feel valued and in turn, they appreciate the organization more and feel a sense of ownership. They also are less likely to take sick days in return.
Moreover, flexible working options in an organization are a great benefit and encourage talent to choose to work for your company thus improving talent acquisition.
Other features of such an environment often include recreational areas, comfortable furniture, and collaborative areas which just might be the tipping point in favor of your company for new talent.
2. You can Decrease Office Costs
If as an employer you provide the flexibility to work from home or other locations you will, as a result, require need less office space.
Not only will you save money on office space but also on office equipment and supplies.
Moreover, the flexibility that such an agile work environment allows is that you are not tied down to hiring employees from the area your office is located in.
This in turn gives you a wider talent pool providing more resources with varying experience but also the option to hire from areas where salaries are lower.
If you do not have employees working remotely or telecommuting you can still cost savings in this type of environment due to better space utilization.
This is because your agile space will not have any dead space as space will be flexibly used and converted according to the needs of your employees.
Benefits Gained by Employees
Here are some of the benefits that your employees can gain:
1. Better Team Collaborations and Interactions
An environment following the agile methodology follows the principles we mentioned above. Consider principle 6 which highlights the importance of face-to-face communication. You also have the agile concepts one of which states that interactions and individuals are more important.
Without strict seating and more shared spaces and flexibility, you can encourage team collaboration and interactions.
You are also putting the needs of employees first by offering them a way to utilize space that suits their needs.
Collaboration also provides a culture where better ideas are formed and generated.
2. Greater Job Satisfaction
Being provided an environment that leads to focusing on work quality and productivity rather than just numbers gives employees greater job satisfaction.
The flexibility ensures that employees can follow best practices and utilize spaces in a manner that works for them since not all individuals work the same.
Knowing they are doing their best work in the best environment offers comfort and job satisfaction.
Benefits Gained by Both Employers and Employees
There are certain common benefits that both you as a leader or employer and your team or employees can gain:
1. Cultivate Innovation
Having a more flexible and less stringent work environment allows employees to be more engaged. As does a space that is catered to collaboration and a team working together.
You can in this way improve your team’s creativity and problem-solving and nurture innovation with improved collaboration.
Check out these remote collaboration tools:
2. Increase Productivity
An environment catered towards your employees helps them work better and produce valuable work.
Over time you will find that your team is producing better work and there is improved productivity.
Increased productivity is great for both the organization and the individual. Individuals feel their work is adding value and feel more engaged while the organization gains quality work and better outcomes.
Types of Agile Workspaces
When incorporating an agile work environment into your office you are predominately creating a load of smaller, flexible workspaces.
How you choose to create these workspaces or structure your more flexible office is entirely up to you, your organization, and what will work for your team.
No two flexible workspaces or offices look or function the same. The main aim is to create diversity in the space available and create areas where workers can benefit.
Spaces may vary they have the same objective, which is to account for the needs of employees and their expectations.
There are different types of agile workspace types including things such as open-plan spaces, quiet work zones, breakout meeting spaces, and so on.
How to Implement an Agile Work Environment Successfully?
Now that you know why you should implement an agile work environment and all the things you, your team, and your organization can gain from the flexibility agile workspaces offer, here is how you can get around to doing so.
The first thing to remember is that any sort of change takes time to implement. During the implementation phase, expect resistance; it’s a naturally occurring element.
Such changes cannot occur overnight and having expectations to accomplish them as so is just setting you up for failure.
You may find that implementing these changes is met with some resistance from your team members and employees.
This resistance could be due to several reasons, one of which is simply what we mentioned above which is the human nature of fearing change.
Alternatively, employees may feel comfortable in their assigned space and fear losing connection with their desk neighbors with whom they have come to befriend and become comfortable.
Managers may fear that it will be harder to gain accountability or team members may fear losing face time with managers.
In light of this resistance, the implementation of such work environments needs to be approached carefully.
There are certain things that you can try including ensuring open communication. This should come right from the start. That is to say that you should be open with employees about the change that is coming. Include them in what they will be gaining and why your organization is considering the change.
Being included in the process of the change helps many individuals accept it and be more willing to try it out.
Another tip is to start small. It is better to make the transition over time rather than bombard employees with a completely new way of working all at once. Make small changes and keep adopting them until you reach your agile work environment.
Another thing to consider is ensuring that you still provide employees with the facilities that they need. It is all well and good to want to make a change towards an agile workspace but if employees find it difficult and don’t have access to their resources it could be more detrimental than good.
Ensure each employee can easily access the tools they need no matter where they are working, as well as reach people and find places with ease.
Another tip to consider when implementing an agile work environment is considering what changes you will be adding physically. You can approach this by considering different workspaces or zones.
Here are some such workspaces or zones to consider:
- Focus Workspaces/Zones: focus workspaces or zones often take up around 50% of your office space. They are open areas that have small, quiet areas to work.
- Collaboration Workspaces/Zones: as we have mentioned quite a bit in this blog post, collaboration is an important part of any agile work.
You need to incorporate collaboration spaces. These spaces could be designed however you want and don’t have to follow typical meeting room formats.
Ensure they are however available for use by your entire staff. Having some sort of shield for these areas is also beneficial. Such spaces should ideally take up around 30% of your office space.
- Social Areas/Zones: the rest of your space can serve as social areas. They can be for informal meetings or breaks. Here your teams or employees can talk about confidential matters or simply take breaks and eat some lunch.
And there you have it! That is everything you need to know about implementing an agile work environment as well as why you should consider doing so in the first place.
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