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So, it was that at the in March 2018 I decided to present a contrary view, corralling all the arguments I’ve heard or had levelled at me over the years to demonstrate through rejecting the idea how robust an approach needs to be to successfully deliver an agile workplace. Better still, to get ahead of them in creating the compelling vision, the ‘WHY? Otherwise you’ll be loading in the additional desks on day two, cattle-prodding the beachtowellers, issuing policies, ASBOs and dictates, irritating everyone in the process, and shortly afterwards booking yourself into the rehab clinic. It’s theoretical pants It has balance and poise, a lyrical tone, appearing as it does to take one dismal extreme (the isolation and hierarchical symbolism of private offices) and another equally dismal extreme (fully open-plan degrading battery-farm host-desking) and find a middle ground at the apex, a bit of each and a lot of something else too, with a whimsical freedom to determine what is best for you at any point in time. Workplace consultants and designers simply talking about it.It’s not a compromise, but something better entirely, the ultimate resolution of a tormented tangle. But where the theory falls down is that it relies entirely for both its logic and spirit on a theoretical occupant, who rarely exists: a reasoned and balanced, sociable, youthful, fit and healthy, self-reliant, apolitical, autonomous, collaborative knowledge worker freed of menial process and routine (and often ritual), carrying future-crunching technology, one who has dispensed with the overriding and innate need to call a place .Yet we’re never going to be like that, and our overriding need to construct patterns of habit and familiarity, to create the mental space we need to do our job will forever outweigh our curiosity to experiment and change our scenery and company with any degree of frequency.
It is the problem that the agile workplace doesn’t like to acknowledge, and that has never been resolved. It’s annoying too because of the main complaint surfacing through the Leesman index – noise. That’s because you’ve run an adoptive change programme, and we hate being told what to do, however much you tell us why it’s a good thing for us.It fails to recognise or understand people, practice, agendas and ambition, external forces, personal whims and wilfulness, and the overwhelming difficulty of providing a playground and expecting everyone to play nicely and wait their turn without a FIFA-qualified parent present.‘Change management’ therefore ends up in the panicked attempt to panel-beat actual people into the theoretical ideal.It’s annoying pants Before the hipsters, ‘disruptive’ used to mean something negative.The agile workplace is disruptive because it gets in the way, it is thoroughly irritating.
It is , some people are still more equal than others.