Kirksey's Agile Planning FAQs

Kirksey's Agile Planning FAQs

As an accompaniment to our presentation on Agile Planning, we have compiled the most frequently asked questions related to the subtleties and implications of what this new hybrid work paradigm might mean. We have met with over 50 organizations and seen a collective “head-nod” from the C-Suite: some version of agile planning and new work practices are likely here to stay. 
 

Here are the questions that we have routinely been asked, along with some helpful links to related information:







To save real estate expenses through reductions in occupied area and tenant improvement costs. By providing flexibility to accommodate fluctuations in headcounts. The ability to house a wide range of employees with a fixed complement of offices, workstations and agile furnishings will give leadership the ability to modify a) the number of anchored employees and b) the number of days per week that agile employees will be present in the office. 
 
These two variables create a range of possibilities instead of a fixed solution.
 
To avoid the “empty office” of the future. As people return after the Pandemic and request the ability to work remotely some portion of the week, there will be wasted space and inefficiencies – at great expense – for companies who do not adjust to these new work patterns.
 
To improve the company’s impact on climate change; by reducing the number of days that employees commute to the office, carbon dioxide output is reduced.

By creating a place that employees want to regularly experience, companies can achieve superior collaboration, socialization, flexibility and access to technology for the organization. It’s a win-win for both employees and employers. 

Agile planning is in its early stages, but we have presented the concepts almost fifty times to end users, brokers, general contractors and others in the corporate real estate world – and nobody has negated its fundamentals. Everyone is curious about the changes underway in the workplace.
 

In the US overall, many corporate leaders are developing their own plans to incorporate remote work in their return to the office. Here is a recent PwC report on their own survey findings from numerous companies during December and January (before vaccination was widely underway.)


 
Not necessarily. Although there may be some cases where an employee may be essentially remote almost all of the time – or perhaps located in another city – many companies are beginning to think that a blend of remote work and in-office work will be the best solution for employee productivity and happiness.

There are challenges with hybrid work, of course, but there are benefits as well. For an overview of the issues, see this link.


 
 

Survey your employees to see where they are with their own experience with remote working and how they see it fitting into their future – or not.

Establish the percentage of employees who should be anchored, which means either in the office almost every day or requiring an assigned office or workstation in order to fulfill their duties. 

Then determine the ideal number of days of remote working per week for the other staff. Our algorithms can calculate how many people a floor can accommodate on any given day.

Something in the range of 20% to 50%, depending on the two factors cited above.

A big benefit of Agile Planning is the ability to accommodate a wide range of headcounts without requiring expansion or contraction of the demised area. It is an inherent outcome caused by abandoning the requirement of a fixed desk or workstation for each and every employee.

Productivity in the workplace is difficult to measure, but the perception of productivity can be obtained anecdotally. People know what results can be achieved when their workplace is optimized. And in the case of remote workers, the ability to do very focused work away from the office has been reported by many during the Pandemic. 

The best mantra that we have heard is to shift the managerial mindset from “managing the people” to “managing the work”.

Further reading can be found here.

By creating a brand-rich destination office – amenities-laden – in order to draw people to the office regularly to connect with the brand and their colleagues.

The changes in the workplace that we are facing are a huge opportunity for Human Resources professionals. Their expertise is needed to recalibrate the relationship of knowledge workers with their employers. Behaviors, policies and protocols urgently need development in order to both exploit the benefits of agile working and mitigate its risks.

Further reading can be found here.
Actually, an organized Change Management effort is one of the best ways to ensure success of new initiatives like agile planning. It’s only natural that many people will be afraid of the impacts of specific changes to their work environment. Kirksey has a summary document that offers guidelines for successful Change Management. View it here.

Technology can do this for us. Software tools are currently available (e.g. Freespace) under the category of work optimization, and more applications will surely be developed with increasing sophistication as the need for flexibility and scheduling in the workplace increases.

It takes more effort to manage people when they are not always present. Understandably there are many challenges and concerns on the part of management. For new hires, some companies are considering mandatory at-work periods of many months in order for proper mentoring and role modeling to be inculcated. Buddy systems can be implemented to make sure that socialization needs are addressed. 

Regular in-person meetings at the office will especially powerful for everyone when the office itself is an exciting, productive and inspiring place to spend time. In between these days at the office, regular “touchpoint” Zoom or Teams calls can be remarkably effective. A combination of these methods will likely produce results that exceed expectations. 

Further reading can be found here. 

When the design team performs micro-programming to determine departmental needs, some important data can be collected to configure the workplace to optimize intra- and inter-departmental relationships. Neighborhoods can be established for each group, with a mix of anchored and agile desks. In this way order and familiarity can be maintained.
Yes – this data will be collected during departmental interviews.
Yes – for this reason, and possibly others, it is sometimes a good idea to provide lockers scattered around the office space so that agile workers have a place to stash things that they need or want in the office (without having to cart items back and forth). Likewise, if they have reserved a desk for several days in a row, they can just leave things on that desk during the reserved period and then store them in a locker when leaving the office for several days.

Over-booking can be managed with software tools. Each person who is scheduling a visit to the office will enter the time period for their visit and will select their preferred location on the floor during that period. In a sense it will be like booking a conference room, but with more sophisticated tools. 

In the same way, parking availability can be assigned during the booking process. What is unknown, however, is how the available parking can be negotiated and managed according to lease provisions. Brokerage teams will be addressing these issues in the near future.

The primary issue is solving for a larger headcount that utilizes smaller premises—albeit not at the same time—which will impact parking ratios.  The solution is likely an arrangement where all employees are issued parking cards but ratios are determined and met by actual utilization and not parking cards outstanding.  Creative solutions will be required and achieved.

This link presents research based on a 29 activity based design projects that collected data both before and after completion. All organizations saw an increase in the following:
  • The perception of workplace impact
  • The perception of workplace productivity
  • The employee’s sense of community
 

Some organizations took a leap and others a step. The projects that took a leap and appreciated the most impact had two important things in common:
  • The employee’s way of working matched the work environment = good programming
  • The employee’s sense of choice and flexibility was enabled by the company culture = trust

Everything related to the Kirksey Agile Planning tool is based on what can happen in the workplace after the pandemic is under control. 

However, we believe that among the lessons learned from the pandemic will be these:

  • There will be a negative reaction on the part of workers if they are presented with working conditions that roll back the behaviors that have been necessary to control the spread of the disease. 
  • Sanitizing of the workplace will continue, along with upgrades to HVAC filtration.
  • Spacing of workstations and seats in conference rooms should remain increased somewhat, because exposure to infection is never going away. Flu season will be returning every year. 
  • We believe that the best policy is to maintain social distancing in new plans so that temporary interventions will not be needed again.