UBS, India

UBS, India

I recently visited Mumbai, India to talk to architects and designers about the impact that Design Thinking and Agile PM is having on workspace. What is amazing about this place is the scale, the chaos and the clear direction to lead the world in knowledge work.

From a physical perspective they are still a way behind Australia, but it was pleasing to see how quickly they brought into the ideas behind mobile work walls as an essential element on open plans where Agile methodology is used and these are both trends in the large campuses of India.

UBS and their designers chose the Y? System with e3 Ceramic (powder coated to suit their décor) for a trial space to support their efforts to become more collaborative.

Using the Y? System for their scrums was a key business requirement because it enabled property costs to optimised and the product was adaptable.

With benefits validated we expect future growth for this iconic product.

More on our Y? System >>

Learn how an Australian corporate created a flexible office space while reducing real estate costs

Learn how an Australian corporate created a flexible office space while reducing real estate costs

A flexible office space is just one of the positive outcomes this Melbourne based corporate has experienced with their new fitout and office layout.

A total workplace change program has seen the refurbishment and consolidation of the business’ headquarters into a new flexible team-based work environment.

The ultimate objectives of the project were two-fold:

  1. Occupancy cost savings,
  2. Flexible office space and mobility of workforce to enable rapid response to business change.

To achieve this, the company reconfigured 16 levels and have been able to consolidate their Melbourne based workforce into 20% less space due to the more efficient use of floor space and a move to flexible activity-based working. This consolidation enabled significant savings in real estate costs. This savings opportunity triggered the initiation of the project.

The newly configured environment has been designed for a multitude of uses – a genuine flexible office space. Quiet working zones, formal and informal meeting spaces including stand-up meetings, and innovation zones all come together across the various layouts. Each floor has been designed around current requirements, with enough diversity of spaces and tools to respond as work needs change.

One of the floors has been allocated specifically for cross functional team collaboration. The business plans to use this space for much of the ‘blue sky’ thinking.

It’s a great light filled space that teams will love to come to and work in”, Collaborative Design Director, Vince Asdagi, has said.

flexible office space

Mobile work walls are a unique feature of the flexible office space adding the ability to conduct SCRUMS as they add to the flexibility and creativity of the space. Use of tri-fold Y-System boards create division and privacy and can be moved to anywhere on the floor they are required. In addition to space partitioning, the works walls act as visual management tools for team members.

The Project Director has said, “Using mobile work walls enable teams to move the tools they need to wherever they need them, providing flexible wall space to create and collaborate, rather than limiting this activity to traditional meeting spaces.”

This business has been transforming over several years and mobility and Agile have been two enabling themes for the change and a workspace project certainly supported the ongoing transformation.

The project was conceived in 2016 with Carr Design and the final delivery of work walls made by Collaborative Design in April 2018.

flexible office spaceAcross the project more than 100 double Y-System work walls and 10 triple concertina T-Connect works walls were supplied and installed. Collaborative Design were able to hold stock throughout this entire period to allow gradual installation, working closely with the Fit-Out Contractor – Shape Group.

Collaborative Design Director, Vince Asdagi has said “It was pleasing to see the space working and teams adopting a new style of working. I have no doubt we will see further adoption of Agile and mobile work walls within this business.”

So given the project mandatories were to reduce real estate costs and allow flexibility for change, it appears that this project will not only be efficient but more importantly effective.

To learn how you can maximise office space and reduce real estate costs using mobile work walls, call Vince Asdagi on 0414 831 894 or enquire here.

How to choose visual management tools

How to choose visual management tools

When it comes to choosing visual management tools it’s the little things that matter most.

When making your next purchase decision on how to support your visual management needs, please remember that effectiveness trumps efficiency.

The benefits of effectiveness are up to 7 times higher than the benefits of efficiency.

Visual ManagementEfficiency refers to how much do I need to pay to get the basic functionality. For example I need a writing surface that is 2m high x 6m across. I could do this with a number of products from whiteboard paint through to tempered glass walls all having a different price.

Effectiveness on the other hand will talk to things such as user experience – ease of writing, cleaning and capture – and the better the experience the happier your employees and more useful the purchase becomes.

So, like so many things that have used the Iceberg as an analogy, the same is true with your choice of work walls – the benefits of effectiveness are up to 7 times greater than the benefits of efficiency

I witnessed this in a fit out in Singapore where the walls were painted with whiteboard paint to be used for Scrums. The users didn’t embrace the walls because of the difficulty in cleaning so their adoption of Agile PM stalled.

Who knows if that meant a whole lot of lost opportunity but I would back effectiveness every time?

So how do you choose the best visual management tools for your organisation? Here are three things to understand and consider:

  1. How different writing surfaces perform over time.
  2. The small things matter disproportionally to user experience.
  3. The intersection of workspace, process and people is where you really make BIG gains.

If you want to know more about designing for effectiveness in an Agile world, call Vince Asdagi on 0414 831 894.

Sitting is the new smoking | Activity Based Working

Sitting is the new smoking | Activity Based Working

Activity Based Working is a win/win for business and workers.

You are no doubt aware that sitting for prolonged periods of time is not good for your health. But are you aware of the business benefits of creating a moving, standing work environment?

The Commonwealth Bank in Sydney have introduced Activity Based Working.

Workers don’t have desks or lan lines. Their day is spent between different areas of the office, including standing desks and meeting areas.

The Commonwealth Bank is a great example of the win/win that is created by Activity Based Working. Walking and standing become part of the standard routine, ensuring workers move around alot more, which by default creates better staff interaction, engagement and, in turn, innovation.

” The primary reason for introducing the Activity Based Working environment by the Commonweath Bank was to introduce a better culture of collaboration. It gets people up and about… and thinking. “

Activity Based Working also saves on operating costs and waste. And it doesn’t necessarily involve an office refit.

It is indeed possible to implement Activity Based Working without a complete redesign or punching staircases through floors.

Activity Based WorkingLet’s examine meetings. They are meant to be the engine of productivity and innovation but in most cases they are drain on your people, the culture and productivity. So let’s change that together.

Start by redesigning 20% of your traditional meetings – in enclosed meeting spaces with tables and chairs – and make them stand up meetings in space that works to create buzz!

All you need is a little space, some mobile work walls, adoption of a few principles from Agile Thinking and away you go!  It’s all about connecting workspace with your process and people.

To discuss how to introduce Activity Based Working into your organisation, talk to Vince Asdagi on 0414 831 894.

What is an ‘Agile’ environment?

What is an ‘Agile’ environment?

Have you noticed that the word ‘Agile’ is being used a lot these days?

It seems to be the ‘shiny new’ term. But different people mean very different things when they use ‘agile’ in the context of agile environment or office design.

agile environment

Peter Andrew from CBRE shares his thinking which we aptly named the “Urgh” matrix.

To seek clarification, together with our Asian business partner (MTM) we held a series of conversations with leading Property Strategists, Interior Designers, Constructors and Corporate Workplace Leaders on agile environment.

We had nine sessions in total with over 100 attendees from organisations including CBRE, HASSELL, Gensler, Aedas, MMoser, Space Matrix, 8build, OSCA and Merx among others.

After introductions each session started with a break apart exercise where we asked each group member to use work walls to answer a series of questions related to agile environment.

For example:

  • What is an agile environment?
  • What are the implications for office design?
  • How is an Agile office different from an Activity Based Working (ABW)?
  • What’s changed in Activity Based Working (ABW) design in the last 20 years?

There were some common themes and many interesting perspectives.

Peter Andrew from CBRE as an example, emphasised the role of choice & performance in considering design for individual space and shared space. We called it the “Urgh” matrix.

agile environment

What also came through strongly in the feedback was how old ABW is. People are wanting a new word. Agile seems to be it.

To the property strategists in the sessions, what’s really changed from the early ABW implementations is the level of uncertainty the future holds and the increasing vulnerability of organisations.  This works strongly against the cost and timelines of traditional property projects.

‘Agile environment’ to these folks more flexibility in the investment. The external boundaries of the firm are blurring with work taking place everywhere not just the office and the full time employees base eroding to more part time/contract roles and more outsources services. At the macro level this is leading to the boom in co-working spaces, increasingly focussed on the big corporates (eg. WeWork) as well as smaller firms.

To the Interior Designers and workplace leads in the sessions, Agile environment is all about increased flexibility inside the buildings. Less walls. More multi purpose spaces, more reconfigurable furniture options. Here Agile is being increasingly used as the new word for ABW or new style ABW.

Agile Origins

After the breakout work, we looked at what Agile means to anyone with a background in IT and how this Agile way of working, it impacting outside of IT.

To a purist, Agile refers to ‘Agile Method’ – a way to get big complex software projects delivered more quickly and cheaply. The manifesto for Agile development”  was introduced in 2001 (see Appendix). It was a response to a crisis within the industry over huge cost and time over runs on massive IT projects.

The ‘Agile Method’ quickly spread to have a profound impact on the way that large software development projects were run.  to be developed. The 12 principles upon which it was based (see Appendix A) included:

  • Co-location of cross functional teams
  • Breaking big things down into smaller pieces that are completed quickly
  • Using walls to create analogue infographics on the status of a project (Kanban boards)
  • Holding daily stand up (scrum) meetings

The success of this approach to large complex projects has meant that these ideas are now being adopted more broadly, not just on IT projects. So for many, an agile environment is a place where this ‘Agile method’ is being used. You’ll know immediately if you’re in this kind of space because you’ll see post it notes and other stuff all over the walls and windows.

So, our first clear conclusion around “Agile office” is that it means very different things to different people. It could be they are referring to more flexible business models, the generic meaning of the word, or it could be more specifically referring to the agile working approach – based directly or loosely on the IT project management (PM) methodology.
agile environment

The impact of these Agile work methods is Office designs that have more focus on project based work, often with cross functional teams.  Agile method has shown that the most complex and difficult work requires moving away for ‘business as usual’ electronic collaboration (email, phone calls, video conferences) to intense face to face collaboration – co-location and working analogue.

agile environment

When things get really difficult – go Analogue

As automation and Artificial Intelligence eat away at repetitive and low value tasks, we humans have had to master more effective digital collaboration.  But when things get really difficult, we have to move back to face to face activity and develop deeper personal relationships.  Hence the increasing adoption of these kinds of spaces in the more modern office designs.

But this way of working is very messy. The other big conclusion from all the feedback in the workshops was that it’s important to not get carried away with making all office space “agile”.  How much you need, where, depends.  At the industry level, some industries are more vulnerable to disruption than others.

agile environment

Source: McKinsey & Co

Within businesses, the requirement for creative problem solving with face to face teams varies a great deal within different functional groups. Some functional areas need stability. Other areas need to be more dynamic. Project teams and x functional groups tend to be on the higher end of the scale. Creative spaces need to be abundant in some areas and frugal in others. The ‘Agile office’ is now increasingly focussed analogue working as well as digital.

agile environment


People mean different things when they use the term Agile. Ask, don’t assume.

Modern ABW implementations are different from a decade ago because of increased uncertainty. An Agile ABW style office could well make use of external providers of co-working spaces to supplement their core.

Within offices, there is a greater emphasis on flexibility and more creative co-design space. These spaces use of agile working techniques – colocation of project cross functional project teams and analogue visual management. Each functional group and cross functional group will have different needs which need to be assessed as part of the design.


Appendix: The Manifesto for Agile development

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.