Before the pandemic, “agile working” was generally regarded as a methodology that best utilised resources, technology and people to drive collaborative outcomes. An article by Mckinsey in 2019 highlights how agile organisations can ideally combine velocity and adaptability with stability and efficiency, however, the business landscape was remodelled throughout covid.Since then, there has been a surge in the shift to hybrid/remote working models.
Many of these organisations are now lamenting the fact that their agile workplace is no longer working for them and their team structure. Some argue that hybrid/remote working has been the death of agile workplaces, for others hybrid/remote working is merely an extension of agile, or an alternative.
Speaking to clients and understanding their views on this the dominant factor I have seen is that most agile workplaces were built around the fact people would be in the office and so the human-centric and face-to-face work function was fundamental to the business model. There were numerous reasons they thought why such a successful, fun and productive working practice like agile would surely attract people back in, but distilled down there seems to be two fundamental reasons that stop that in its’ tracks:
1) Hybrid/remote working and that ability to work from home has created in some demographics a real appreciation for valuing one’s own space. Aside from their routines, people like their own set-ups and a sense of belonging. Therefore, moving back to an agile workplace could see them not having a specific desk to sit in thus removing that mindset of ‘let’s get back and get settled’ opportunity.
2) This plays to the point above, but the idea of ‘hot-desking’ fundamentally worries people now. During the pandemic we have had two years of constant messaging about not mixing with other households or people from different geographical areas, as it heightens the spread of infection. The exact opposite basically of what hot-desking promotes, the mixing people from different teams up as much as possible. Some have legitimate fears of being the next super-spreader under this arrangement.
The simplistic solution (some would say) would be to try and create an agile remote working environment and have the best of both worlds. I am not sure though hot-desking is created easily on VC as generally they require some pre-planning and coordination of who’s there. You can create groups virtually, but it is a more prescribed task and does not factor in that variability agile workplaces create. The chance encounters that hot-desking promotes is where some of an organisations most innovative ideas come from and are hammered out.
Either way I am looking forward to seeing what solutions are tabled as we see out the second half of 2022. You never know, there may be another new way of working put forward that changes the narrative on this altogether. Watch this space.
Director - Accounting & Finance
Matthew is the Director of 5 business streams in NSW; Accounting & Finance, Practice, Financial Services, Insurance, Sales & Marketing, Legal and Legal Support. He leads a team of specialist recruiters all who have extensive networks within their chosen fields. Collectively they work at all levels of the management structure ensuring customers get the benefit of all their combined years of experience and reach to market.