How To Create A Truly Agile Startup Office

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The workplace doesn’t have to be all about duties, but can indirectly affect it. We'll share eight tips to create a truly agile startup office:

Motivation is a powerful tool. With it, every obstacle can be overcome, without it, nothing seems encouraging and worthy of our attention. There’s this one thing, amongst many others, of course, that can significantly improve motivation in an office. Interestingly, I found that it’s the office itself. When the design is tailored to the employees, it can be very stimulating and provide a huge boost of creativity, turning boring responsibilities into everyday adventures that make the whole company want to come to work.

What’s more, I noticed that the more advanced Agile adoption, the more motivated the employees became, making us believe it’s all thanks to Agile. Those startups, that really understood and adhered to core Agile Principles, realised the importance of applying Agile rules also outside of software development cycle. Transparency, face-to-face collaboration and frequent feedback can be adapted in a startup office design and I would like to show you how it can be achieved to increase your employee’s motivation and creativity.

Observe & Ask The Team

Take some time to closely observe your team at work: how often and where do they have meetings? How does the team communication look like? What about their mood? Do they seem bored? What makes them happy and full of energy? Can you notice any patterns? Once you have that, ask Scrum Masters to run a few brainstorming sessions where the teams suggest possible office improvements and see if that matches the results of your observations. Try to find the equilibrium between expectations of the team and what you’ve noticed.

More Frequent Communication

Feedback is one of the top 3 Agile priorities. And what can be achieved best in an open space office if not frequent feedback? Having key project employees shut in separate offices can create unnecessary blockers to the progress of the projects. To avoid that and maximise the chances for frequent communication, make sure that developers and management are working in the same area. If such areas still need to be divided, for example for meeting rooms, glass walls will help to prevent the ‘cubicle’ feeling and ensure transparency. Plus, glass walls can be turned into additional space for sticky notes and scribbles.

Make It Easy To Move Around

What seems to work best are terminals and workstations with laptops that can be easily moved from one place to another. Each station can have 1 or 2 mounted screens that can be plugged into any laptop without much hassle. Such a set-up enables easy collaboration on a task – something particularly important when pair-programming.

How To Create A Truly Agile Startup Office

(c) Janina Tyńska / XSolve & Chilid

Make It Creative

Want the office to stimulate creativity? Invest in a creative but toned-down interior. Bean bags, hammocks or swings can provide a great alternative to desks and get the creative juices flowing. Sometimes, changing a room can shift you to the next gear. Whiteboard boost creativity, too, but if you lack space, go for a transparent paint that turns a wall into a whiteboard surface. The more room for writing, the better meetings that require scribbling. Imagine how much time can be saved during a creative planning meeting, when a client draws what he expects to be delivered and everyone understands his vision quickly. Big TV screens can also change the interior. When combined with displaying interesting data, it will throw more light into how things are progressing and therefore further motivate the employees to focus on the goals ahead.

Separate Areas For Different Purposes

Open space offices are cool, but a big room with 20 or more employees can be loud. Separate rooms dedicated for phone calls or meetings can help a lot. Small meeting rooms, lining-up the open space can not only help decrease the noise and allow other colleagues to focus on their tasks, but also give teams a little privacy. After all, who would like to discuss fragile topics in public?

How To Create A Truly Agile Startup Office

(c) Janina Tyńska / XSolve & Chilid

Focus On Face-To-Face Collaboration

According to the ‘Principles behind Agile’ invented by Agile creators, face-to-face collaboration is a must in order to assure successful Agile implementation. So far, we’ve described open space office as one solution. However, what if we could go one or two steps further to encourage more interactions? What if you actually created a few minor obstacles to do that?

It’s becoming more and more popular to disrupt the ergonomics of the office. One way to achieve it is to have a single coffee machine or a printer for an entire floor. That way people have to walk to get what they want and it’s most likely that on the way they will stop to chat with colleagues, what results in more frequent knowledge exchange.

Work Hard, Relax Harder

Building complex software can be difficult. To make matters worse, it can be also very stressful to make things work with so many people on board. Good companies, who care about their employees ensure healthy work and relaxation balance.

Quiet Zones

Dedicated rooms for reading, meditating and even snoozing can help restore that balance. Nothing helps better than taking a short break after a difficult meeting. Taking time to shut off and separate yourself from nagging problems, even for 5 mins, helps avoid further conflicts and prevent employees from burn-outs.

Teams Just Wanna Have Fun

How To Create A Truly Agile Startup Office

(c) Janina Tyńska / XSolve & Chilid

The workplace doesn’t have to be all about duties, but can indirectly affect it. Organising a Play-Station competition or board games events is a great way of relaxing and also improving teamwork and introducing a little bit of a healthy rivalry. Unleashing the inner child together makes teams bound on a private level and helps them become friends.

The way your startup office looks like represents the entire business. However, in order to ensure prosperity, the interior design has to mainly serve the people that build the brand and come there every day. To achieve a truly Agile Office, core Agile Principles must be respected: “Individuals and interactions” are what should guide you when building a work-friendly startup office. That way will help you reach your goals and have motivated employees as a part of the crew.



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