There’s no doubt that agile working is a hot topic right now. As we slowly ease out of lockdown, housing associations across the UK are trying to figure out what their post-COVID workplace will look like. Whilst some organisations have made their decision, many more are struggling to get business-wide buy-in, or they continue to wrestle with the potential unforeseen consequences of making the wrong move.
Having been tasked to come up with an agile working policy, Jo Francom, Assistant Director of HR & OD at Magenta Living knows this scenario all too well. With Golden Marzipan’s support she was able to navigate this fundamental decision, moving forward with complete alignment from the senior team. Here Jo shares her story:
“We all know the background, March 2020 arrived and we had to react to an unprecedented situation that essentially meant we sent everyone home with laptops. Then came the question, ‘what next?’ Do we go back to a pre-pandemic way of working? Do we keep people working from home? Or do we look at something entirely new? And the response … It’s a people issue, so HR will develop an agile working policy.
I knew early on that HR couldn’t write an effective agile working policy in isolation. Such a fundamental and wide-reaching business decision needed strategic input from the entire leadership team; ensuring that it not only met business needs, but it also considered the implications to the customer and their needs.
Having worked with Golden Marzipan on another project, I shared my concerns with them. They advised that they could help me secure clarity by aligning the senior team behind a single vision of what ‘agile’ meant for Magenta Living. I knew that this is exactly what I needed to move things forward.
Ahead of a workshop, Golden Marzipan provided the leadership team with some thought-provoking pre-reading that outlined several ‘agile’ case studies and articles. They also asked us to complete a survey that helped establish where everyone’s thoughts were in terms of agile working. This scene-setting really helped to challenge people’s thinking, getting them to consider the wider implications of our decision.
I’d always had reservations about whether a workshop like this could work remotely but I was absolutely blown away by the ease of the virtual facilitation and how the workshop was structured. Golden Marzipan used our survey responses anonymously to aide discussion and drive a good outcome. They demonstrated a great understanding of what areas we needed to discuss to come to a robust decision and they brought challenge to the discussion.
The real benefit of having their input is that they are completely independent. They’re not trying to protect any service area as they just want the best outcome for the business. Our leadership team also loved the workshop as it created a genuinely safe space to have a good debate about our choices, without confrontation.
As a result of this session, we have a clear, single definition of what ‘agile’ means for Magenta Living, and all leaders are signed up to it. We’ve shared this with colleagues and interestingly it was completely aligned to what they had told us in the staff survey. This definition now gives me a great foundation on which we can develop the principles and framework that will help bring agile working alive.
Having Golden Marzipan’s input helped us to tap into the hive of knowledge and experience from our leadership team. They were able to ask questions and challenge, but in a totally non-threatening way and having them lead the session meant I could also be involved in the conversation.
It’s provided us with reassurance that we’ve considered the broad impacts of our decision on customers, colleagues and the business. And we know we’re all signed up to the same direction of travel.
This is a challenge that many people are struggling with and it’s not just a question of whether colleagues work from home, go back into the office or a hybrid solution. There are implications on the customer, on what you do with office accommodation, IT infrastructure and governance, how you work collaboratively in a hybrid world; the list goes on and on. And the concern is that unless you engage the wider organisation to fully understand these implications, you could easily make a decision that not only has unintended consequences, but that could also be difficult to reverse.”
If you are currently trying to establish what your post-COVID workplace will look like, please contact us to have a chat about how we can help. Contact us here