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  • Writer's pictureLouise Coombs

Agile Working - A steep learning curve

Working from Home is the new way of working.

As a Workplace Interior Architect it is my job to regularly challenge business owner’s preconceived ideas of what their office needs to be like. Especially the number of desks they think they require. This global pandemic will hopefully show business owners how productivity can actually increase when you allow your staff the freedom to work from somewhere other than just the office.

Work / life balance is no longer necessarily a strict 9-5 being sat at a desk where you can be seen by senior management. Staff can actually function better if they get a little bit of extra sleep, avoid the rush hour commute, get to reply to emails having a coffee in their PJs, take a break from the laptop by walking the dog and getting fresh air, giving their mind time to focus and read a proposal, to actually think about a problem which needs solving.... with the added bonus of being able to do a few extra mid-week wash loads, reduce unnecessary stress levels by being in for deliveries, and most importantly in the current climate being around for the kids.... it’s not always about watching Netflix, avoiding responsibility and going to the pub (not that you can now!)

Most adults take pride in their work and they care about the business they work for and want to feel valued for what they do. They don’t want to avoid doing any work by being at home - they want to be allowed to manage their time accordingly. More work will get done when staff work from home IF staff are managed well, are motivated and dedicated enough to care about their job, and are trusted to do so... they will easily work more than the 8 hours when needed and will be much more productive. People being forced to still travel into work at a time like this will only create hostility, increase their anxiety and create risk to their family. That is not ever going to result in the best output from staff.

Obviously this cannot apply to everyone in the workforce, but generally there is a large percentage of office based staff it can apply to. Being able to adapt is what is key to these coming months being a success for businesses and having the technology available to support this agile way of working should be in place.

When this all blows over, and it will - everyone will be so relieved to get back to normality - and the office will thrive once again - but I just hope business owners learn something from these isolating times. It is about creating and installing the right work ethic alongside the right office environment in order for a business to function effectively.

Agile working is a good thing. Working from home rather than being expected to be in the office every day IS a viable option for some. Work doesn’t stop because you’re not sat at your desk. This loss of control should hopefully highlight that this is something good for staff and businesses. They don’t need the big open plan office - the thousands of sq ft and sea of desks - they need to empower staff with the correct technology to work literally from anywhere.

The office will still always be there - but it is changing.... it becomes more of the hub where people meet to collaborate, to share and create the culture that makes every company unique. Somewhere staff actually want to go to.... but don’t necessarily need to go to. Give staff better ways and places to work.

Embrace this as a time to actually really learn ‘a different way of working’ - which is something I am regularly asked to demonstrate in my office designs. It just further highlights a phrase I have been using for years - it’s all about creating a Martini Working Ethic.

Any time. Any place. Anywhere.

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