Understanding the scope of the change
Workplace Principle 5: Insights Through Participation
Participation is key in any workplace change. By encouraging employee participation early on, a workplace strategist or those managing the change can gain valuable insights into the company (more on that here). But on an emotional level, it can allow for a better understanding of how a change in the way of working could impact employees.
Determining the scope
Change can be significant and require radical behavioural shifts, or it can be small and pretty insignificant. Applying a change to increase flexibility can have different scopes for different organisations or for an organisation’s different functions.
The scope can be determined by how much of the existing behaviour needs to change and the significance of the change for the individual.
For example, someone working in sales will probably have an easier time adapting to a flexible way of working than a lawyer, as he or she is already used to working from different places, tends to be less reliant on paper, and has more contact with other people. A lawyer may rely more on physical reference books and documents, and have a greater need for privacy, all of which could be considered roadblocks to flexible working. This is why it’s important to understand the scope of the change for different parts of the business.
Understand the emotional toll
Further, a change might seem small and insignificant from the outside, but feel intrusive on the individual level. This could be related to emotional reasons and a sense of comfort, and it can be difficult to prepare for.
These types of emotional reactions are stronger and more common when someone doesn’t see the benefit in the change, when the goal isn’t desirable, or when an employee doesn’t have faith that the result will be as intended. These feelings often lead to resistance and attempts to slow down or hinder the change.
Create a roadmap
When working on a transformation, it can be wise to lay out what the intended change will imply for different groups within the business. For those with a longer journey ahead, you can evaluate specific efforts for simplifying the process.
First things first, you need to focus on initiatives that facilitate the journey itself and create a feeling of comfort with the way of working. Efforts aimed at communicating how great the change will be can miss the mark if employees feel like concrete challenges aren’t being addressed.
Click these links to learn more about gathering insights through participation, countering resistance, reactions to change on the individual level, how change impacts different levels of an organisation, and the difference between useful and surface-level participation.
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.