BCO Breakfast Talk: Agile Working

Presentation from Geoff Ward

Partner of Stephen George + Partners

We attended Geoff Ward’s BCO Agile working talk (Partner of Stephen George + Partners) – a very insightful and interesting talk.

He began by talking about the changes he has seen over the years; from the 1990s when “the walls came down”, leading to a rise in open plan working, to the agile, flexible spaces that are popular now. One notable point raised was that agile working is a shift to a “Focus on the WHAT and the HOW of an activity rather than the where – a change in the working culture”. An agile work environment can mean different things to different people as we all work in various ways. The important thing is to assess the individual companies’ needs as a business and on a human, staff level to achieve an environment that works for them; there is no one size fits all approach.

We need to look at the things we need as human beings in our workplace – staff need a “Creation of a cultural experience so they feel safe and not worrying about the ME and then they will do their best work”. Offices should reflect the “rich variety of humankind” – Geoff Ward.

Below is a list of how Geoff summarised lessons he has learnt during his time working on office design.

  • It has to be about people and what they NEED.
  • One size does not fit all – unless it’s a very baggy tracksuit.
  • Google? – chances are that it’s not for you.
  • Not all activities and processes suit agile working.
  • People are different – oh my, are they different!
  • If you build it, they might come…. But will they know what to do with it?
  • Offices are but a venue: a stage with scenery and props, office culture is the script and people the players.
  • Human beings are social creatures – we need human contact.
  • What we are confident is the right thing today, might not be tomorrow.
  • Continue to make offices flexible and adaptable
  • Be prepared to accept you may be doing it wrong and make changes.

Office design continues to evolve and develop and there is still work to be done in the pursuit of spaces that best meet the needs of their users. It an exciting time to be designing offices.

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