Change across different levels
Workplace Principle 5: Insights Through Participation
Getting employees involved in a change from the very beginning provides a vital tool for workplace strategists. This is how they gain the insights they need for a successful new office or way of working.
While change is good, and the goal is ultimately to improve the way a business works, it can also bear consequences across different levels of the same organisation.
Change across the organisational hierarchy
A change can touch different levels of an organisation. At the highest level there is the organisation as a whole, followed by the group or working unit. The lowest level is the individual. These levels are hierarchical and a change at a higher level will impact a lower one, meaning a change that affects a group will also affect the individual. By that token, when a change impacts the organisation as a whole, all groups and individuals will feel the consequences.
Depending on the level the change occurs at, different initiatives will be needed.
- On the individual level, you could introduce training.
- On the group level, there could be team-building exercises, leadership training, or collaboration training.
- And when change influences the organisation as a whole, these initiatives could involve work around vision, goals, strategy, culture, and organisational structures.
Pinpoint the step in the change
A change in the way of working can touch different levels depending on the organisation’s current state.
A business that wants to move from a fixed to a flexible way of working and has already digitalised its processes, incentivised collaboration across units, and trained employees to lead themselves in their work and managers to lead others based on a goal, will have a shorter journey to this new working method. In this case, employees need to understand and practise an activity-based use of the office, and groups need to find structures for maintaining cohesion.
An organisation that finds itself in an earlier stage will also need to work with guidelines and its overarching structure, as well as support managers with new leadership. The absence of these structures makes it harder for employees to craft a fair image of how the new way of working will affect them and what opportunities it can offer them.
Change management initiatives become even more important as they need to create an understanding and prepare employees and the organisation for the new way of working.
Get leadership on board
It is worth mentioning that all change requires leadership and demands that higher-ups take initiative. If there is resistance on a management level – which there often is – it’s important to work with managers to get them behind the change.
As a change manager, you need to try to understand what the resistance is rooted in and what could reduce it.
For more information on how change impacts people on the individual level, click here.
This article is based on the five principles for the development of a workplace strategy that we at WeOffice use to create bespoke workplace strategies. You can read more about them here.
References are taken from the book Workplace Strategy for the Flexible Office by Aram Seddigh. For more information on the book and workplace strategy in general, click here.
Seddigh, A. 2022. Arbetsplatsstrategi för det flexibla kontoret : metoder, verktyg och case med fokus på hybrid och aktivitetsbaserat arbetssätt, Stockholm, Blue Publishing.
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