Positively Agile: How the PRISMA team has adapted to a new way of working
“The openness and mobility of Agile spaces allow us to interact with each
other more than ever before, developing bonds and encouraging
collaboration. The overall atmosphere is much more enriching; we’ve
embraced our new environment and are reaping its benefits.”
Jan Wagebach, Head of Software Development, PRISMA
In the evolution of every growing organisation, there are decisive moments, or lines in the sand, which can be looked back upon as pivotal to their success.
At PRISMA, we think one such moment will turn out to be when we moved to new and larger offices earlier this year, having outgrown our previous space. Not only was this essential for housing our burgeoning team, but it also served as the catalyst for a broader rethink of our overall working methods.
Or to cut to the chase, it’s when we decided to go fully Agile.
Some new-fangled work practices turn out to be passing fads, while others stand the test of time. Agile working, which is now adopted by many companies keen to optimise performance and productivity, as well as both employee and client satisfaction, is certainly in the latter category.
It’s been four months since PRISMA moved to a fully-fledged Agile model, so we thought it was time to take stock – and in doing so perhaps even provide some inspiration for other companies considering the same.
So what made us take the plunge?
For us, quite simply, it was a natural progression after several years of moving towards Agile working.
Since the 1990s, Agile methodologies have become commonplace in the software development industry and the last few years at PRISMA have been spent adapting our working style to these methods.
But then we reached a major obstacle: our office layout.
Meeting rooms were regularly used as makeshift offices and people needing to work together were often cramped at one desk. It was sub-optimal to say the least, so when the time came for us to move offices, we saw it as a chance to make our space truly work for, rather than against us.
What exactly were we looking to improve?
All was going swimmingly with our Agile journey until we noticed friction arising among departments that hadn’t yet taken on the same practices.
As day to day projects at PRISMA rely heavily on collaboration between teams, we knew things had to change. So we began moving the rest of the company to this same model that focussed more on individuals and interactions than processes and tools. The friction soon alleviated.
Another big moment was when we decided to create an entirely open office layout style in which team members could move wherever they wanted. This new mobility encouraged the kind of inter-team collaboration that would have been impossible in our old office.
With the freedom to sit wherever’s most convenient, the team have welcomed our new layout with open arms.
So all good so far – but what next?
When we were in the old office, we were still a company that relied upon outsourcing to external providers. Now, however, we are at a stage where we’ll be undertaking most projects in-house.
Indeed, this month we launched our first two projects which we hope will take full advantage of what Agile has to offer. These will be taken up by development teams with members from across the company, who’ll now be able to collaborate in spaces fully dedicated to their task.
Jupiter - Meeting Room
And finally…here’s 5 top tips for going Agile
So that’s our Agile story, and we’d love to help inspire you to create your own. If you’re part of a company thinking of going the same route, we’ve got 5 pearls of wisdom that we believe will help you on your way.
Don’t be shy to seek inspiration
We already had a theoretical idea of what we wanted to achieve by going Agile, but it was only when we visited Polish design company Boldare that our vision really began to take shape. Their office was spacious and comfortable, while retaining an intimacy and inter-connectedness, and the decoration and furnishing was in complete harmony with this atmosphere. Among the desks there was no partition, and their ‘relaxing area’ was a coffee shop inside the office itself. It was a real eye-opener and gave us the confidence to move forward with our own plans.
Encourage everyone to offer ideas
If anyone in your company has misgivings about Agile working, a sure-fire way to ease their concerns is to get them involved in the creative process. That’s exactly what we did when it came to designing our new meeting rooms. The entire team was involved in coming up with a theme for these rooms – for example a gas-themed room with wall illustrations and info about how gas exists in different states across the world – which helped everyone feel they played a part in making our office what it is.
Keep your identity
There’s little point in creating a slickly functioning Agile office if you forget to bring along some of you organisation’s inherent identity and values. Moving offices was a chance to start with a blank canvass, but we were always conscious to retain a degree of familiarity. For us, this meant a minimalistic and modern design, interspersed with bursts of colour and furniture that were recognisable from our old office.
Leave no-one behind
It’s likely that some of your departments will be more enthusiastic about Agile working than others, but it’s important to give the entire team equal consideration. We decided to create customised “neighbourhoods” for each team based on their specific day-to-day requirements. For example, because our finance team make frequent phone calls and handle sensitive information, they required a locked office. And while each neighbourhood is distinct, glass walls give them a sense of openness and transparency.
Remember your digital presence
With so much of the focus of Agile working being on physical spaces, it’s tempting to forget to bring your digital presence along for the ride. Whether it’s your office furniture or online branding, consistency matters. When we moved to an Agile model, we gave our website a full makeover, ensuring that the vibrancy and energy of our revamped office was reflected online.
Do you already work for an Agile company? We’d love to hear about your own experiences so please do drop us a line – we might even compile the best replies into another blog post. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org