Dare to add color: recognize diversity!
New city hall
A large municipality with over two thousand civil servants needs a new city hall. They want a flexible new work space, where staff members are motivated to actually get in contact with their co-workers. In addition, while restructuring they don’t want to have to drag their desks around. The goal? Employees who work more productively, together
The municipality decides to implement open workspaces and invest a great amount of money to apply this new concept to each and every one of their workspaces. A one size fits all solution. The result? Employees start to form small cliques and create conclaves. Resulting in even less encounters between colleagues then before. In reality, the new city hall appears to be inflexible, instead of flexible, with a fall in productivity and employee satisfaction.
Our advice? Recognize the colors!
In our last article, Roel Geenen explained the way Activity Based Working works. In this article we urge you to recognize the “colors” of your employees. This requires courage, but once you recognize the diversity of your employees and the way they work, the quality of their work will grow.
Your organization will start to function better and employees will work together once their diversity and colors are done justice. The people in your organization all have different competency profiles, different personalities, different ways of working, different work dynamics and different responsibilities.
How most organizations solve this phenomenon
Most organizations let everyone use that new instrument the same way. Let’s say, the implementation of lean, or moving in to a new office all together. This is a grey solution which will only result in one thing: no one will feel at home. If everyone is supposed to function in the same open environment, half of your employees will love it. The other half? Not so much.
Some companies will do the opposite, but take it a bit too far. They will give everyone their own specialty, which only results in losing all connection between coworkers. These companies are black and white: people work on their own tasks, and pursue their own interests. Nothing more, nothing less. When we ask these employees if their job could be done by anyone else in the organization, they will answer with a sound “no”. “No one will be able to do this, I do very specific work, which is inside my head, mostly.”
Your colorful employees
Often, an organization has a lot of different people. All with their own different personality, different “colors” and different ways of working. For example, people who do very repetitive work which is not very forgiving when it comes to mistakes. Others are in their heads a lot, or need to work together often. When these two collide, they will suffer from each others company.
One type of work requires different facilities and a different environment than the other. The professional field of Activity Based Working is not exactly geared to that.
The alternative is to empower your employees, based on individual personalities and qualities. This way, all colors in your organization will be strengthened and connected. You will notice an improvement on productivity and the organization will run more effective.
Veldhoen + Company takes note: what can we do to make work more effective? Keeping every personality and work style in mind. We train the management to clear this roll distinction. How does your organization really work? And why are you working like that?
What we did at city hall
Eventually the municipality from our example asked us to improve their productivity and the way they work together. We measured the dynamics of the organization and analyzed the diversity of work patterns. We saw five colors, with corresponding patterns, all of these different. At the same time, employees experienced something else: the management doesn’t know what is actually happening during work hours.
To each their own
Next, we discussed this in groups of fifty to one hundred and fifty employees. People start to recognize the dynamics and diversity which results in making small adjustments in everyday life. Every color with corresponding work patterns is asked what his or her ideal work environment would look like.
One color might need more alone time, don’t get interrupted by management the whole time. They want extensive IT facilities and a nice desk along with a good chair. Where that desk and chair are situated, doesn’t really matter.
Another color works on different kinds of projects during the they, which require different styles of workstations. They don’t mind to get some steps in, as long as these stations are made available. They want to have easy access to social contacts and manage their own agendas.
Of course, there are three more colors. The municipality chooses a combination of the following: different floors consisting of different facilities. The whole building gets revamped. Plus, a training for the management. In 2018 this will be implemented, and we are very excited!
So, add color!
Dare to add some color to strengthen your organization. This is possible by looking at how your people are wired, and how they work, while giving them alternatives in work spaces.
In the next article, Tim de Vos en Sheila Zautsen will talk about management styles that match all those different colors in your organization.