Hello, I’m Hollie Doyle and I’m Office Manager at Rhino Interiors Group. I’ve been at Rhino for 6 years in total and in my current role for three years. It fell to me to organize Rhino’s transition to agile working!
In the first two instalments of my diary I talked about the principles we adopted, a decision to reduce numbers on-site and then about how we re-designed the office with safety as a priority. This week I’d like share some of my experiences with regard to the practicalities involved in putting the new office into place.
Communication in the Agile Office
One of the biggest changes has been the need to communicate regularly with staff about ways of working. We’ve tried to avoid change for change’s sake and have kept them to a minimum. However, there are a lot of new things for people to take on board so it requires to repeated communication, so things don’t get forgotten. After all, some of the team are only in the office one day per week now, so it’s a lot harder for them to settle back into a “daily” routine…they’ve got the rest of the week to forget and revert to their old behaviours!
Verbal and Visual Interactions
We’re using two main forms of communication – verbal and visual. Signage needs to be clear and helpful without becoming ugly and overly intrusive. Nobody wants to stand around reading lengthy company policies on bulletin boards or emails! We’ve found that simple “command” visuals work well when strategically placed. For instance, a large “wash your hands” sign in bold colours by the entrance is effective and has created a high level of compliance.
We use several levels of verbal communication. At its simplest we’re following the principles, gained from years of Health & Safety experience, that’s it’s important to capture people when a “near miss” occurs and talk to them there and then about their behaviour. Sometimes I feel like I’m having to operate as a sort of policeman - but it's safety first!
Team Input to Managing in a Flexible Office
At the next level are our departmental meetings and safety is always an agenda item. These are a great forum for getting people’s ideas and feedback about how to improve and I love the openness of this approach. After all, we’ve still got a lot to learn about how to do this well! There’s no real need for staff surveys if people already feel empowered to speak up in they knowledge that they will be listened to. Team leaders give feedback to me every week and that’s really helpful. Their role is very important; day-to-day ownership to make this work lies within each team. There were a few instances of people turning up on wrong days or in one case not showing up at all! I’m delighted to say that these were all handled smoothly by the departmental leaders.
We’ve also been having company-wide town hall style meetings and the overall feedback has been great. Of course, these meetings are primarily designed to communicate company results, changes to strategy and other matters, but it’s been really good that people are willing to give feedback in these too.
Key Findings About Agile Office Environments
I’m quickly learning that “agile” means exactly what it says. Make changes quickly, receive feedback fast and then improve even further. It’s been a lot easier to get buy-in than traditional change projects and at a time when many people are distanced from the office and each other, it’s helped bond people together. It’s a never-ending loop and I’m excited to see where the future may lead us.
If you’d like to know more about Rhino’s approach to Agile office workplaces, please download our free guide to agile workspace design or contact us for a chat. We’d love to hear your own experiences!