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Agile Working: From Software Development to Workspace Design
The agile workspace design concept has its roots in an approach to developing software. In the first article in our agile series, we answer where the agile term comes from, what it means today and how it’s changed our environment.
What we mean by agile working and agile workspace design are two very different things, but the former has definitely influenced the latter, as we’ll see.
“Once-in-a-lifetime cusp of a shift”
According to US Work Design Magazine, Google’s Jeremy Neuner believes our society and economy are on a “once-in-a-lifetime cusp of a shift” in how, where, and why we work. According to the magazine, he told delegates at the sixth annual Agile Workplace Conference: “It’s not about the space, but the people in the space. For perhaps the first time in human history, we have the chance to align our economic development with our human development.”
Jeremy, who is the product area lead for real estate and workplace services at Google, added:
“If you want to unlock human potential, you have to give people freedom.”
Biggest change since the Industrial Revolution
Extract – Belinda on the development of an Agile Workspace
“Once you have that agile mindset your environment has to change,” says Belinda. “I have seen time and time again teams reorganise their offices about six months into their agile journey. When I come into their workspace the whole place has been reorganised. Everything and everyone has moved away from their corners and silos. That’s great to see.”
It’s not that agile coaches like Belinda instruct teams to reorganise their offices as part of the methodology. Far from it. Like most things in agile, it unfolds naturally. “I’ve not advised them to change their workspace they just do it because it makes more sense. It’s very organic.”
Central to agile is visual project management which uses collaborative spaces for planning, mapping and creative thinking. Spaces like walls, boards, glass; Post-It notes, canvases, dashboards and roadmaps. Along with meetings and games, the boards within agile help connect teams and build regular channels of communication around shared spaces, enabling people to interact, engage, share and work together.
Often workspaces make space for boards and then realign their layouts and movements around their new boards and collaborative activities.
“That’s where the magic happens”
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