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.

The battle for Hong Kong | Traditional office layout fights back

The battle for Hong Kong | Traditional office layout fights back

Is the traditional office layout fighting back?

You still see articles trumpeting the failure of Activity Based Working (ABW) but I’ve not seen a single new office layout plan for Sydney or Melbourne CBD that has completely abandoned it.

The lawyers may be dragging their heels and tenured professors may be clinging to their books and small offices, but it looked to me like game over for commercial enterprises.

The 30-40% real estate cost savings experienced with a more contemporary office layout are just too compelling.

The goals to make the organisation an attractive place to work, more collaborative, more able to innovate and be agile in response to competitive pressures and market changes are too important.

The corner offices and cluttered cubicle land had to go.

Not so in Hong Kong. Up here the traditional office layout is fighting back. Which is strange given real estate costs and supposedly hyper competition.

On a recent trip in partnership with MTM, we were privileged to look at nearly a dozen new office projects in various stages of the development process. In quite a few of them, it was clear that the corner office and permanent cubicle live on.

I was intrigued. In one case – a regional HQ for well known financial services company – I quizzed their head of property over what happened. This was a large subsidiary of a European HQ company that had embraced ABW elsewhere. But here floor plate for their new office layout looked very like the office they were in now – only with lots more very small meeting rooms.

How did it happen?

“ Well we used senor technology on everything for 3 months when we were preparing our plans for the new office”. He said. “Actually, people mainly stay at their desks all day here. They don’t meet very much and when they do meet it’s usually 2 or 3 people. They don’t use whiteboards very much. Our people mainly keep their heads down and get on with their work… there is a big rush to leave at 6pm”.

Senior Management responded to this data by fighting hard for the retention of high sided fixed cubicles for their people. The need for privacy and focus work was paramount. Chinese walls (SIC) needed between divisions. Open plan wouldn’t work.

They were happy because they could give global cost savings, because they could cut the size of their meeting rooms to better suit meetings of 2 or 3 with no wasted chairs. But the big dogs kept their corner offices. Only slightly smaller.

office layoutAhhhh. The corner office. When I see a company stumble and hold back the ABW tide, you can be sure why.

My Property Manager said it was the ‘Executive Committee’ decision.  But you can be sure it was some of those with the corner offices who fought the move.

And they would have been supported by many of those below them who were close to getting one.

That’s not the reason they’ll use. But it will be the real reason. And it’s understandable. You spend your whole career fighting for the status of the big office. The big chair. And here are some Europeans telling you to muck in with all the minions! It’s unacceptable.

My head of property was clearly frustrated, however. He looked embarrassed while presenting the plan. He was up for the change. Fought for it. But he’d lost the fight.

To me it’s incomprehensible that these executives were not terrified by what the sensor data was telling them. After attracting and retaining talent, where your new office is your chief recruitment tool and calling card, the only game in town for vulnerable organisations is to create conditions where your people give discretionary effort to their work.

You need to focus on intrinsic motivators for employees to flourish.  Flourish by Martin Seligman

office layoutA sense of purpose and meaning from the work. More Autonomy to make decisions, Engagement, Mastery of new skills, and recognition of Accomplishment. Positive relationships with their boss and peers.

To me the sensor data was telling an alarming story. Did these cubicle dwellers have a clear sense of purpose or meaning from their work? Or were they just going through the motions?

Were they squeezed to within an inch of their lives on performance targets and given little autonomy to decide priorities? Were they were drowning in emails?

If so, no wonder they were clock watching and bolting for the door at 6pm.

No engagement is what you get when you feel no great purpose in your work and you have little autonomy over how you spend your time.

Judging buy the new office plan, they didn’t appear to care too much about learning either. The new office had only a tiny allocation of space for the learning environment. Not much mastery of new thinking or sense of accomplishment for this lot.

Then there is positive relationships. These people were talking on the phone all day and typing emails. Not much face to face activity with any of their colleagues.

This tells you right there that this place was all about business as usual with very little effort going into business improvement.

This is a dead man walking I thought. They have no idea what’s coming. They will be eaten alive when they realise how fast their old business models are going to be disrupted. And here they were creating a NEW office (18 months away) maintaining all the old silos!

People throwing bricks over the wall to their upstream and downstream colleagues. No spaces for creative problem solving. No moves to equip them with tools such as Agile Method or Design Thinking. No spaces for bigger groups to get together to talk. To noodle ideas. A place you want to come to. A clubhouse where you hang out with your tribe. A place to really work together to solve the big problems that are hurting customer experience.

But my Property Manager did assure me they do have a culture goal to be more collaborative!

People who don’t talk to other people face to face are the ones most vulnerable to AI and outsourcing.

The new style office with unassigned seating, lots of social spaces and places for creative problem solving, are coming – ready or not.

And people will flourish better in them if they believe in what they are doing. Where it’s understood that employee experience is the primary driver of customer experience. Staff feeling a sense of purpose in trying to deliver better customer experience. Freedom to get involved with teams that are trying to fix the things that are broken. Developing their skills. Being recognised for their contribution and achievements on behalf of the company. Having lots of colleagues you think of as friends.

This is the company of the future. But north Asia will be the last stand of the traditional office layout.  How long will they withhold the tide?


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.