Follow this BIFM blueprint to transition to an agile working environment

by Brianna Crandall — May 19, 2017 — New guidance to help facilities managers (FMs) manage the transition to flexible or agile working within their organization was published recently by the British Institute for Facilities Management (BIFM).

The Agile Working Change Management Guidance Note is aimed at FMs working at a senior and/or operational level and covers the benefits of agile working and how to successfully plan and implement an integrated approach to deliver sustainable change in working behavior.

BIFM defines “agile working” as describing a range of work settings that allow people and organizations to make new choices about when, where and how they work. It is underpinned by mobile technology and applies to people working both in and away from the traditional office, such as at home, on the road or remotely in other locations.

According to the Guidance Note, “agile working change management” is the process associated with transitioning an organization and its people to flexible working; it embraces space, services, location, technology, working practices and behavioral change. Unlike traditional workplace changes, introducing flexible working requires a “highly integrated choreography” between information technology (IT), telephony, security, FM, interior design, human resources (HR), risk and communications.

According to the publication, almost all flexible working projects are triggered by a space necessity, i.e. running out of space, the end of a lease, the move to a new building, or a desire for cost reduction, giving FMs the chance to lead the transition.

The Guidance Note expands on these benefits of flexible working:

  • Improved staff productivity
  • Improved space efficiency
  • Improving business continuity
  • The ability to reorganize the workplace at minimal cost and disruption
  • Enabling the organization to retain and attract staff
  • Sustainability
  • Organizational agility

BIFM’s research and information manager Peter Brogan said, “As an Institute, we recognize the importance of the workplace agenda for FMs, and this newly commissioned Guidance Note aims to address the current lack of knowledge around some of the emerging workplace practices.

“Workplace change is a particularly hot topic in FM, and was highlighted in The Workplace Advantage report by The Stoddart Review, of which BIFM is a founding partner, which argued the need for businesses to invest financially and intellectually in ensuring their working environment optimizes employee performance.

“The work environment is shifting rapidly, and this will result in new challenges and opportunities. As the workplace landscape is redefined, FMs will be at the forefront of eliminating barriers to enable people to work more effectively, helping to play a key role in the creation of flexible environments that not only meet the evolving needs of employees but help forward-thinking organizations increase productivity and the performance of their business.”

The document was authored by workplace expert Andrew Mawson, co-founder of Advanced Workplace Associated Ltd (AWA), who has worked with organizations such as Microsoft, Lloyds of London and UNICEF to help them realize the economic, social and productivity benefits linked to agile models of work, place and organization. He is also the lead for Workplace Week, which is supported by BIFM.

Mawson added:

Managing the behavioral transition to more agile, modern ways of working is a key capability for those involved in managing the modern workplace. But it takes more than a few briefings and a nice PowerPoint presentation to change the habits of a lifetime to work. At AWA our day job is to work with leaders to help them change the world of work, and so we were delighted to be invited by BIFM to develop this guidance note to help FM professionals put in place some key steps to aid the transition.

The Agile Working Change Management Guidance Note is available for free download from the BIFM Guidance Notes Web page.