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How to stop your office space hindering your Agile transformation

Agile transformations are ambitious. They rethink everything from the operating model, through budgeting, all the way down to daily meetings. Yet we frequently see organisations forget to examine the physical space in which people work, making it impossible to harvest the full benefits of Agile working.

To enable a successful Agile transformation, organisations need to look at their office spaces. They must bring people who regularly collaborate closer together, set aside dedicated space for Agile ceremonies and use physical space to create transparency.

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Bring people who work together day-to-day closer

Even though remote Agile working is possible, it’s not optimal as it adds a barrier to interaction. So, when teams that often work together share an office, put them close to each other to make it easy for them to interact.

We saw how effective this can be when supporting a FinTech’s ambitious Agile transformation. We helped them co-locate teams that work together often, and made teams more accessible by giving each dedicated, clearly marked space so others could easily find them. Introducing high-quality video conferencing (VC) equipment also ensured meetings with remote teams are more inclusive and effective.

Teams reported they were able to fix issues quicker and without formal meetings. That’s because the teams can easily break out and discuss a task, and everyone knows where to find the right team to help with any issues. At the same time, those working remotely felt more connected with their teams, had a stronger sense of purpose and found it easier to ask for help because the VC experience let them respond to people’s faces and body language.

Dedicate space and time to Agile ceremonies

Agile working is about building habits, particularly the habit of open communication with others. That’s why daily stand-ups are key. They encourage team members to discuss issues and priorities so they can plan their time. So, create a dedicated time and space for teams to meet. Then, people will always know when and where they’re going, making stand-ups a productive habit.

This is exactly what we did with the FinTech. From the outset of the transformation, teams had a dedicated room and time to have their daily stand-up. There was never a question of when to be where – it was the same time and place every day – so everyone always attended the meetings, making them more effective. When one team tried to change their time and place to accommodate colleagues dialling in from a different time zone, team members were late or didn’t show up at all, and meetings ran over. When they changed back to their usual meeting time and place, things ran smoothly again.

Enable transparency

One reason Agile ceremonies are so important is that they let everyone know what everyone else is working on. And the physical workplace can help here too, with tools like Kanban boards creating transparency.

This is an eye-opener for many organisations going through an agile transformation. After going through Programme Increment Planning, a physical board of activities showed our FinTech client all the work in scope and highlighted the number of dependencies. Scrum Masters would gather around the board to discuss the dependencies and decide how teams could avoid slowing each other down.

We’ve also seen a culture and mindset shift caused by the visibility of other team’s backlogs and sprints. This transparency made it easier for teams to share best practices and understand how they’re all working to deliver a common goal.

Adapting the physical workplace will drive the success of your Agile transformation

Agile transformations are complex and take considerable time and effort. So, you don’t want anything getting in the way of reaping all the benefits of your work. That’s why it’s crucial to look at the physical space in which your people work. By finding ways to bring people together, creating space for Agile ceremonies and enabling transparent working, you’ll build an environment for great Agile working.

Contact the authors

Contact the Agile team

Sam Bunting

Sam Bunting

Mark Griep

Mark Griep

Mitzi Geisler

Mitzi Geisler

Tina Hjort Ejlertsen

Tina Hjort Ejlertsen

Ali Rana

Ali Rana


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