Agile working – perhaps not as simple as it may seem?

Many organisations are now moving to  ‘agile working’ or ‘activity based’ working – either in a gradual way and slowly changing ways of working over time, or in some cases in a more dramatic and transformational way – out with the old, and in with the new.

Either way there are more things to think about than may at first seem apparent – some traditional FM type things, some beyond the remit of many FM’s, but nevertheless important if you’re to take a joined up approach.  In this series of blogs on agile working we’ll be working our way through all aspects of people, place and technology and giving you our thoughts on what you need to consider and why.  By no means will these be exhaustive lists – just food for thought to help you tailor ‘agile’ or ‘activity based’ working to the needs of your organisation and the employees on which you depend.

Part 2 – Technology (Hardware)

So instead of sitting at the same desk and using your traditional desktop computer, the amazing leaps forward in technology over the past few years are allowing us to work wherever and whenever we like.  But with the vast array of technology available to us it’s not easy to know where to start in choosing what’s right for you and your organisation.

So what do you need to consider and why?

One Size/Solution Doesn’t Fit All

This is as true with the technology you provide as it is with the furniture and environment you provide.  It’s so easy to think that if you’re shifting to agile working then everyone will need a laptop so let’s look at what deals we can get on a ‘job lot’ of medium weight/size/spec of laptops that will suit everyone.  But unless everyone is doing exactly the same job, in the same location, and in the same way then this really is unlikely to work that well and in the long run it will just end up being a compromise for everyone.   

So why not spend a bit of time taking a user centred approach and looking at the actual needs of your employees and get it right 1st time?  It doesn’t have to be massively onerous a task – there will be common themes and needs to allow you to customise your provision with relative ease.

What Does Everyone Need?

Clearly not everyone will need everything on this list so here are the pros and cons:

Desktop computer – easy to set yourself up in a comfortable and ‘ergonomic’ way – generally plenty of adjustability but clearly not portable and therefore not conducive to agile working if this is the only hardware available to them.

Laptop – soooo many different sizes and weights available.  A large screen is easier to work on, but heavier to carry around.  A small screen is not so easy to work on and (usually depending on how much you’re prepared to spend!), not necessarily light either.

Tablet – lovely and light to carry around, but small screen and poor ergonomics (especially if used without a keyboard) make it unsuitable for prolonged use.

Docking station – a full size monitor, keyboard and mouse for your laptop or tablet to help bridge the gaps between size, comfort, and weight when used for prolonged periods in an office based environment.  Best of both worlds perhaps?

Battery life and power cables – you’re not necessarily going to want to drag around a heavy power cable with you every day so battery life is definitely a consideration, as is the provision of additional cables to be kept in frequently used places such as home and office.

Phone – hard or soft?  Once again this depends on the degree of ‘agility’ and headsets need to be appropriate to the job being done.

So lots of things to think about.  One size/solution doesn’t fit all, so it will need a bit of consideration and consultation with your employees to make sure you provide the right environment and equipment for your organisation – working together to make this agile transition as ‘painless’ as possible for all concerned.   

If you think we’ve missed anything we’d be delighted to hear from you.  Let us know what you think, or what your experiences have been, and we can all help add to the discussion on the best ways forward as our offices become more and more ‘mobile’.  We look forward to hearing from you.

PS – we know our posts are short, and to the point, but we kind of like them that way.  Hope you do too? ☺