Danger Zone: How to Avoid Agile Working Becoming Your Biggest Nightmare

This week’s Golden Marzipan Breakfast Briefing focused on planning to return to the workplace.

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 are also grappling to get business-wide buy-in unintended consequences of taking early decisions.

Our guest panel took a closer look at the post-COVID workplace. Together, they discussed approaches that organisations should be considering and shared some insights on how to get your decision making aligned and harmonious.

Our panel consisted of:

  • Joanne Francom, MA FCIPD, Assistant Director, HR & Organisational Development at Magenta Living
  • Paul Taylor, Innovation Coach at Bromford Lab, and
  • Golden Marzipan’s Sean Sankey.
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Our guest panel (From top to bottom and left to right): Peter Lunio, Director at Golden Marzipan, Joanne Francom, MA FCIPD, Assistant Director, HR & Organisational Development at Magenta Living, Paul Taylor, Innovation Coach at Bromford Lab and Golden Marzipan’s Sean Sankey.

Why Is Agile Working Important in the Post-COVID Workplace?

In a recent poll initiated by Golden Marzipan:

  • 75% of the surveyed housing associations said they plan to implement a hybrid working model to increase productivity and customer service.
  • 80% planned to introduce these new models within six months.
  • Only 10% of the surveyed said they have fully integrated plans.

Housing associations are watching how the sector can benefit from agile working in the long term. In Joanne’s opinion, “agile working is no longer just an HR issue because we need to make sure our customers are getting the service they need by putting them first”. Also, in Paul’s words, “there’s an immediate need for organisations to do something different”.

The New Trends in the Workplace

Looking across multiple sectors,” Paul said, “there are new, interesting variables emerging”. Again, some of the biggest trends he has observed as part of the future of the workplace were highlighted:

  • Climate change, and the effects of an imminent climate crisis.
  • Income inequality, in the jobs we do and how we do it.
  • Automation, and the new workforce of the future.
  • An ageing population, living longer.
  • and Wellness and mental health with its evident link to the workplace.

COVID-19 has shown that “people are far more flexible than was expected and that’s something that governments have understood”. In relation to this, Paul continued, “this is a time to implement some radical changes quickly with very little resistance”.

On the other hand, he pointed out, “there has been a downside to these shifts”. Regarding the ‘death of the office’, Paul observed that “collaboration and workplace culture has been hit the most by the effects of burnout and a lack of strategies to manage work-life balance from home effectively”. “The best strategy we can put in place first is to remain adaptable and agile“, he confirmed.

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The digital strategies you have in place will make a difference in how to get your business aligned with one direction of travel.

Reaching Decisions with Colleagues

At Magenta, Joanne was given the unenviable task of corralling her leadership colleagues to a company-wide decision. Joanne was faced with multiple issues. Having the opportunity to gather some feedback from colleagues, the hybrid working approach was overwhelmingly popular.

She enrolled the support of the Golden Marzipan team to try a different and highly effective approach. “We had a lot of interaction with the community, with community events and surveys going on”, she said. Most importantly, she highlighted, “I had the leadership team aligned with me in that single direction of travel and expectations”.

With Golden Marzipan’s workshops, Joanne was able to get involved and engaged in the conversation. “It was a really productive change, that enabled us to make lots of progress,” she said. “Thanks to this, we were able to move forward: developing our principles, looking at our policies, making sure that our customer service was aligned always”.

Sean shared some light on working with top teams on making difficult decisions. Some of the takeaways from these initial collaborations with Golden Marzipan empowered:

  • Recognising that arguments don’t change people, but experiences do.
  • Encouraging collaboration across businesses.
  • Having an Ask-Magenta-Anything forum for questions about the future of the workplace.
  • Facilitating discussion on the changes and planning in the use of their building’s rooms and office space use. “Specificity needs a structure” and the independence of our facilitator was welcomed.

This transition has been really positive, according to Joanne. She concluded, “It has meant and resulted in having a clear, single definition of what ‘agile’ means for us at Magenta Living, and all leaders are signed up to it.”

At Golden Marzipan, we want to know your thoughts on digital transformation and the future of the workplace! Our team has launched a survey to gain greater insight into the challenges housing associations are facing in the post-COVID workplace. If you would like to take part, please visit this link to complete the survey. As a thank-you note, we will send you a limited-edition GM report on this subject.

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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 to establish long-lasting change. Contact us here.

Thinking Differently

If you need to have more conversations on what agile working and digital strategies would look like in your workplace, call Peter at Golden Marzipan for an informal chat. Our team of advisors have broad experience in delivering digital transformation and we’d love to talk about how we could help you today. Contact Peter at peter@goldenmarzipan.co.uk.

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