In a thought-provoking pre-pandemic interview, Andrew Mawson, the founder of AWA, discusses the importance of agile working and the challenges associated with implementing it. Mawson emphasizes that transitioning to an activity-based model is crucial for both space utilization and employee productivity. The traditional approach of having employees sit in the same desk or cubicle inhibits creativity and limits productivity. By providing a variety of workspaces, organizations empower employees to choose the environment that best suits their tasks, ultimately enhancing productivity and engagement.
While space design plays a crucial role in agile working, Mawson highlights that technology and behavioral change are equally important. Technology enables employees to work from anywhere and facilitates collaboration among teams. However, successfully transitioning to an agile model requires individuals to develop new competencies and adapt their behavior. Engaging employees throughout the design and change process is essential, involving HR and technology teams in designing a new model of work.
For Mawson, agile working represents an opportunity for organizations to rethink how, why, and when they work. By providing technology and networking capabilities, companies can empower employees to work freely, allowing them to choose their workspace based on their tasks and preferences. This mobility, combined with a workplace that offers diverse spaces, ensures that employees can perform their tasks effectively and be their best selves throughout the week. No longer confined to a static desk, employees engage in a variety of activities, such as meetings, calls, workshops, and client interactions.
Implementing agile working, especially for individuals in their 50s and 60s, requires sensitivity and careful communication. Mawson acknowledges that change can be perceived as threatening, particularly when it involves relinquishing personal offices or symbols of status. Organizations must address these concerns and ensure employees understand the rationale behind the transition. By emphasizing the benefits of agile working, such as increased collaboration and efficient space utilization, companies can alleviate fears and facilitate a smoother transition.
Mawson emphasizes that the Indian workplace provides a unique opportunity to embrace agile working. With a fresh and vibrant workforce, India has the advantage of starting anew, unburdened by legacy practices. By leveraging technology and adopting innovative management and behavioral models, Indian organizations can pave the way for agile working. Mawson believes that India has the potential to lead in this domain, with fewer barriers to change and a growing appetite for new ways of working.
In conclusion, agile working offers a new paradigm for organizations to optimize productivity and enhance employee well-being. By designing versatile workspaces, leveraging technology, and engaging employees in the change process, companies can foster a culture of agility and adaptability. While challenges exist, particularly when it comes to overcoming social threats and resistance to change, organizations that approach agile working with sensitivity and clear communication can successfully embrace this transformative approach. As India embraces the future of work, the opportunities to reimagine workspaces and empower employees are immense.