Tips for managing workplace change

Lisa Copland - Presynct Workplace Transition

A new work environment should never just be about the physical space changes (e.g. from offices to open plan).
Truly successful change only occurs where you manage the physical, virtual and behavioural changes needed for people to successfully work in a new space. It should not be thought of as a workspace project – it is a people project! It’s about how people will occupy and work effectively in a space.  

So, here are some of my top tips on how to make sure this happens!

Tip 1: Engage end users in the work they do to drive the physical space design:

  •  Make sure you understand the different functions and activities they perform and map the characteristics needed to support that work (high vs low focus).
  • Map the journeys of their functions / persona’s (types of workers).
  • Use technology (OccupEye) to understand how they use their current space.
  • Get information from staff in a structured manner on what is working / not working and why.
  • Research benchmarking and data from others in similar industry.
  • Take time to present designs to staff so they can see their input and understand how the design enables them to do their work.

Tip 2: Ensure mobility is achieved so employees are not tethered to their desk during noisy (but beneficial) ad-hoc collaborative conversations or high focus / quiet concentration activities:

  • Understand how to use technology (hardware and software) to replicate the benefits of face-to-face interaction when you aren’t in the same physical space.
  • Ensure the impact of moving around (set up / shut down) is minimized.
  • Implement procedures and technology to allow people to be more `paper lite’.
  • Ensure all spaces have the technology available to support the activity they were created for!

Tip 3: Involve ALL staff to address the behaviours, rules and etiquette needed for everyone to best work in the space:

  • Staff must discuss, generate and agree how they are going to work in the space.
  • Staff need to define typical journeys to allow them to resolve challenges, such as how to manage a new staff member, where and when it’s ok to be noisy vs quiet, and managing staff outcomes vs presenteeism.
  • Define a shared use of space etiquette for different levels: building, floors, neighbourhoods and teams. Discuss key concerns, solutions and indicators to reinforce these behaviours.

Without managing all of these, the workplace change will ultimately FAIL.

Noise, privacy, distraction and lack of focus lead to employee frustration and, in my experience, another major redesign! If you are going to spend money on a new office fit out, make sure you have someone who knows PEOPLE and understands workplace change to manage it.  

Lisa Copland