Resources > How to Build a Modern, Agile Workplace

How to Build a Modern, Agile Workplace

agile-working

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. This is why so many companies have been able to successfully make the shift to remote working over the past 18 months.

The numbers are staggering. The percentage of people working from home jumped to 54% in 2020, according to data from the CIPD Job Quality Index. Three-quarters of companies have implemented, plan to implement or plan to expand work from home policies. Almost four in ten of those companies expect the move to be long-term or permanent.

With the global recovery underway, businesses must now come to terms with the future of the office environment and what the modern workplace looks like in general. The benefits of a more agile way of working will be clear to any organisation that made the shift during the pandemic. But the challenges of implementing an agile working strategy full-time remain. Rest assured, every business is facing the same problems right now. But with the right strategy, support and advice, long-term agile working is possible.

What is Agile Working?

Before we dive in any further, let’s clarify exactly what we mean when we say agile working. Agile working, founded on the premise that work is an activity and not a place, allows employees to work where they want and have the same experience. It’s important to point out that this doesn’t just mean working from home. Agile work can happen anywhere there’s WiFi access: the office, the home, the coffee shop. What matters is that there’s no discernable difference to their experience depending on where employees work.

 

working from home

Everyone is Trying to Make Agile Working Work

Making the move to an effective agile working environment isn’t easy. The good news is that any business that’s managed to survive the pandemic has the ability to make a success of agile. At the same time, believe us when we say businesses of all shapes and sizes are facing challenges when trying to implement a long-term strategy. 

As a technology company working across the professional services industry, we’ve seen just about every problem businesses can face when it comes to agile working — and we’ve often seen them many times over. Here are just a handful of the choices and challenges we’ve seen businesses struggle to overcome in the past 12 months. Maybe you’re facing the same challenges, too.

Managing technology bloat. There’s an awful lot of technology and software out there right now. Businesses have adopted many applications out of pure necessity and this is causing disconnected systems that risk making employees less inefficient, not more.

Redesigning the office. Companies are having to think seriously about what the future of their office looks like. This is not a minor decision by any means, especially for companies that prided themselves on their workplace before the pandemic. A smaller, redesigned office, hot desking or full remote working are all options that we’ve seen businesses consider and adopt.

Remote access to line-of-business applications. There are certain pieces of software that every business needs access to in order to work effectively. But it’s not always easy to access these programs securely when you’re not in the office. 
 

Moving from Confusion to Consultation

The first step to overcoming the agile working challenges your business is facing right now is to thoroughly assess your current situation and establish your vision and goals for the future. Yes, we’re sorry to say that more technology isn’t going to solve your problems. Nor is ploughing on with the software stack that got you through the pandemic. 

Instead, start by assessing where your business was pre-pandemic compared to where it is right now and ask yourself the following questions: 

●    What’s working for you now that wasn’t in the past? 
●    What was better before the pandemic that you’re now struggling with? 
●    What do you want your business and specifically your office look like 12 months from now? 
●    Do your employees want an agile working environment?
●    What does a good environment look like for them?

It’s only by coming up with answers to these questions that you can start to properly analyse the best office setup and the right software to help you facilitate the agile working approach of your choice.

 

Evaluate Your Situation and Your Software

Now you have an idea of where you want to go, you can see if you have the software required to get you there. Again, there are several questions you can ask yourself to see how your current tech stack lines up:

●    How do I give my staff access to line of business applications?
●    What devices will they use?
●    How will they interact with third parties like lawyers and accountants?
●    How will they communicate with employees and customers?
●    How will your technology comply with regulatory and compliance requirements?
●    How will you protect data?

Your answers to these questions will reveal the degree to which your technology and software stack need to change to facilitate your preferred agile working approach.

Implement a Long-Term Solution

How you proceed next will depend on the evaluation of your current software and workplace setup. It may be that you already have the required technology in place to succeed and that it just needs to be fine-tuned to meet your specific needs. That would be great news for your budget and this scenario is much more common than you might think.

In rare cases, it may be necessary to overhaul your tech stack, either purchasing a new suite of tools to deliver a more integrated and efficient workflow for your employees or minimising the bloated tech stack you already have in place.

Your office may require a more significant overhaul if it’s central to your agile working plans. Businesses pursuing a hot-desking solution may want to invest in a desk booking system, for instance. Other organisations may want to downsize their office significantly or move to a co-working space.

A Real-Life Example in Agile Working

To prove you’re not alone in the struggle to create an agile workplace, let us tell you the story of a long-term client who recently came to us for advice on building an agile working environment that suited their needs. 

They had approximately 200 employees distributed across multiple offices with a permanent desk and phone system. Everyone worked from home during the pandemic and the business managed to make it work reasonably successfully. 

After careful reflection, the company decided they will not be returning to their pre-pandemic way of working. However, they still needed to deploy a cohesive collaborative communications solution, incorporating a telephone system, that allowed them to work and communicate easily whether at home or in the office. 

They also identified problems with compliance and GDPR caused by the use of personal smartphones and devices that needed to be addressed. Finally, a number of IT and business issues also needed attention, including: 

●    Hot desk management
●    How to redesign the phone system
●    Incorporation of comprehensive standardised Video Conferencing and Instant Messaging capability
●    Whether to buy corporate phones or continue with personal devices
●    How to incorporate remote working policies to meet the needs of the business.

We helped the client create a single cohesive collaboration solution that ticked all the boxes. It included an easy-to-use hot desk management system, an employee presence solution, cost analysis and management of mobile device services, and centralised management and reporting. 

Ultimately, employees were empowered to work effectively from anywhere while executives could rest assured their business continued to run smoothly and compliantly. 

A Managed Service Provider as an Agile Work Partner

Agile working presents a fast-moving environment that is new for everyone, which is why it can be so useful to seek support from a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Drawing on experience from a vast number of clients across a range of sectors, an MSP like Method can offer the most up-to-date advice on your specific situation.  

An MSP can be even more valuable going forward as none of us knows what the immediate future holds. It’s only by working with a provider who has both experience and a broad range of capabilities that you can be sure your business can handle whatever the world throws at you next.

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