H. Hendy Associates, the interior architects behind Monster Energy and Kawasaki’s new headquarters, shares how to ease the tension and build support.
By Heidi Hendy and Drew Carter
In recent years, there has been an evolution in workplace culture, as employees now spend less time in “designated space” and more time in communal, collaborative workspaces. Today, offices are designed to work the way our processes work, and spaces are tailored to accommodate specific activities and promote productivity. This shift has not only changed how the space looks, but the protocol for how offices are used.
Change management acknowledges that we do not work in the same manner as we did a few years ago, and that there is a need for increased efficiencies in the workforce. By bringing employees through a change management process when transitioning to a new work environment, it allows them to learn how to utilize the new space through training and protocol. This helps to establish the shift to new space as a tool for success instead of a distracting disruption. In fact, research shows that companies that utilize change management techniques when introducing new spaces have a 90-percent rate of acceptance and success with the new space.
With this in mind, leadership should look to change management techniques to help ease the transition to a new way of working, and to encourage employees to not only accept the transition to collaborative workspaces, but to champion the shift. Here are three ways to get started:
1. Mind the gap
During the transition from a legacy office to a more creative workspace, leadership must understand that there is a gap between the current culture and way of working, and where the culture is headed. Implementing a change management plan will help to bridge this gap, get people on board and ensure that the entire team is prepared for the change. When employees understand goals and planned benefits – both to the individual and to the company’s bottom line – they are far more likely to be supportive of planned change.
2. Identify change agents
The change management process should start on day one of the project and must be championed from the top with the creation of a sponsorship team. This team, which is typically comprised of members of the executive team and other company leaders, must be clear about why the change is being made, and it must understand the new protocol, space and technologies that will be made available in the space.
Throughout the process, the sponsorship team will handle communication with the overall team, providing information and coaching about how to best utilize the new space and leverage technology, creating a stronger return on investment and reducing resistance. Collaboration and dynamic communication between the sponsorship team and the rest of the employee base must be at the core the change management process.
Once the new workspace is complete, both leadership and the sponsorship team must serve as examples to the rest of the team in utilizing the new, collaborative offerings of the design. This type of top-down adoption will spur increased, faster buy-in from employees.
3. Lean on technology
Technology is not just important to the team’s initial adoption of the new way of working – it is integral to the long-term success of the office space. Many legacy offices were designed for paper processes and workflows, not for accommodating the types of technology and connectivity that today’s workforce demands. We now spend the majority of our days away from our desks, and office technology must be able to not only accommodate that way of working, but optimize it.
Ensuring that the new office infrastructure is up and running from day one will enable employees to hit the ground running in the new space and experience its full potential. For example, a mobile-friendly, cloud-based workplace can help employees to complete tasks throughout the space, on various devices, so that the productive collaboration that the space enables can occur.
Throughout the change management process, it is crucial to include technology training so that these new tools are seen as keys to success rather than hindrances.
Business today is increasingly dynamic and requires that companies be able to meet demands for increased efficiencies and speedy execution. When making a cultural, physical or technological shift in an office workspace, employing change management techniques will not only help to spur employee adoption, but will help to reduce resistance to the new way of working, creating more engaged employees increasing productivity and ultimately leading to a stronger bottom line.
Heidi Hendy is the principal and founder of H. Hendy Associates, located in Newport Beach, California. Her firm offers a full spectrum of services from strategic planning, creative interior design, architecture services, and facilities management. www.hhendy.com