Hollie's Diary: The Move To Agile!

I am Office Manager at Rhino Interiors Group, having been with the company for a total of six years. I've been in my current role as Office Manager for three years. It fell to me to organize Rhino’s transition to completely agile working! In this regular blog I will recount the processes and experiences I went through during this transitional time. In today’s blog I'll describe how the project got started.

After the initial lockdown announcement, we all started working from home like everyone else. The notice given was really short, so I can’t say that we were well prepared for that! But we managed to make it work and each team found their own way of keeping in regular contact.

 

Getting Started

Just over a month into the lockdown period I suddenly got a call from Ben, our Managing Director. Right at the end of the conversation, he casually threw in a request for me to plan a potential return to work at the Birmingham office, based on an agile working model. I had never done anything like this before and that left me wondering 'how do I even get started?'

 

Brainstorm and Flowchart

I put the kettle on and then called my colleague, Stacey, the Finance Manager. We had an impromptu brainstorm and quickly came up with some thoughts to get underway. I like to use little drawings and diagrams to organize my thoughts and so I condensed it all into a flowchart.

 

Hollie Miindmap

 

People and Space

One of our first considerations was about numbers of people relative to space available. It was immediately apparent that unless we were going to squeeze in a large number of new desks, there was no way we could fit all staff into the office at the same time - especially because we had to assume a need for social distancing!

We decided that a few staff, including myself, perform roles that actually are only effective if the person is full time in the office. However, for the majority of team members home-based working was definitely achievable. But then we started to wonder about potential isolation and the fact that people like to feel a sense of belonging; would a weekly Teams call ever be enough to create that?

 

The Office as a Hub

We felt that it would not. Working remotely can be a soulless experience for most people if they work solely in isolation. So we would need to create a hybrid working model, with the majority of working time spent out of the office, but with one day per week on site. Our concept was that the Birmingham office would become a hub for all teams, where they could come to meet up face-to-face.  The environment when they arrived would be welcoming and friendly, embodying our company and it's values.

The next question was how to organize this. We created a rota and consulted heads of each department on how best to do this, as they all have differing needs.

We decided to allocate selected days per week for each function. These days would be fixed in advance, as we couldn’t have everyone choosing a Monday to turn up, but with an empty building each Friday! Within that, we were mindful that we don’t want to put people at risk by insisting they travel on public transport at peak hours. For that reason we decided to offer people a lot of flexibility as to which hours they worked. We’ve set a mandatory core working hours base of 10am-2pm, but staff can choose when they actually start and finish. That’s good for both the owls and the larks!

 

Founded on Ethical Principles

We believed very firmly from the outset that Rhino’s agile policy should be founded on strong ethical principles, which were put to test straightaway when assessing whether what we were asking staff to do was fair and reasonable. Everything would be put in place to promote the health, wellbeing and reassurance of staff. This has provided a great foundation that is not just a short term expedient during the Covid crisis, but will continue to influence decisions moving forward.

 

Next time...

I will talk about some of the health & safety considerations embedded in the new agile working policy.

 

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