Are you agile yet?

The shift towards agile working (or activity-based-working) practices continues to grow in popularity with a range of workplaces, large and small, moving to these working environments.

A far cry from the ‘hot-desking’ of years past, agile working is focused on fitting the working environment around the many and varied tasks an individual might complete within their role. The concept of agile working also embraces flexible working practices, such as flexible hours, working from home, and working off-site.

Agile working is praised for helping employees become more productive and engaged. However there is a perceived risk of higher ergonomic risk – as employees become more agile, the perceived reduction in employer control and oversight of work practices can create fear of rising workers compensation costs.

agile teams

For many large organisations, going agile means the construction of large purpose built offices and extensive research and investment into how to best make and support the transition. But for smaller organisations the perceived resources needed to undertake this level of preparation can seem prohibitive.

Instead, we have done some of the work for you. Read on for some insights and experiences from one of Konekt’s largest customers, Westpac, who undertook a significant move in 2014 into the world of agile working.

Konekt spoke to Niki Castello, WorkSmart Change Manager from Westpac about their WorkSmart program.

Why did Westpac move to agile working practices?

In 2012, Westpac Group began a property program to consolidate our many CBD locations in Sydney and Melbourne. This created a tremendous opportunity to design an agile workplace that supports the way many of our people are already working or wanting to work in the future.

We wanted to create the Future of Work for our people and our customers. The vision was to do more than just consolidate our workplaces. We wanted to create a new way of working that empowers and inspires individuals and teams to achieve great things for our people, customers, communities and shareholders.

Recognising the significant change, we created an internal program and brand which consolidated the streams of People & Culture, IT, Property and Paper. The brand we created is strong and instantly recognisable while still being a part of the Westpac Group family structure. The brand reflects our vision: be agile, flexible, collaborative and enabled by technology.

What are the three top things you suggest other organisations consider and/or do when undertaking a move to agile work?

1. Look at change from a holistic perspective. Recognise the change is not just about the workspace. It’s about changing mindsets first, providing the tools to “future proof” your business and providing the structures and support to allow your people to move to agile work.

2. Look at the synergies of how you can evolve into something sustainable and smarter. Speak with your people and obtain feedback through employee centred design workshops and focus groups. Employee engagement should be via a broad range of levels and groups.

3. Provide the tools to enable mobility, productivity and collaboration – empower your people, support and inspire them to achieve great things. Ensure that the systems, policies and procedures are in place to support your leaders and people.

What are some of the pitfalls that organisations might want to consider, and how can these be avoided?

Don’t assume that you know what your business needs; get in touch with your people and ask them. Engage with all divisions. Understand how they work and what other changes are on the radar.

agile working

The key take-home message?

Invest in a comprehensive change support program that runs from conception to post implementation. Support your leaders and your employees and provide them with opportunities to inspire and empower.

To support Westpac in their move to agile working, Konekt’s expert team of consultants provided a range of ergonomic risk management services providing a visible presence on ‘move days’ to offer guidance and support on ergonomic practices and issues on the spot.

“The Konekt representatives were very helpful with on-site support in assisting our people to transition into a new workplace in the first few days of our moves. Ensuring the Health, Safety and Wellbeing of our people is paramount to ensure they are adjusting to new furniture and equipment,” says Westpac WorkSmart Change Manager, Niki Castello.

If you are thinking of undertaking a move to agile work, Konekt can help make the transition a positive and engaging one. For more information contact your local Konekt representative.