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17 Jan 2016

Physical space helps change

by Melanie Franklin

Fantastic presentation last week from Andreas Arnold, the Head of Strategic Programmes at the BBC. This was a Change Management Institute London Chapter event which debated the importance of physical space to help achieve wider organisational change.
Andreas led us through the programme to co-locate two BBC offices into one, and the advantages of moving from a one desk, one employee arrangement to a ratio of employees and desks that better reflected that 30-40% of employees were not working from their offices at any one time.

A lot of what we discussed demonstrated the links between the environmental levers for change, the emotional levers and the process levers.

Value of early adopters

One of the emotional levers that Andreas deployed very successfully was using early adopters to help convince those finding the change more difficult via the creation of pilot groups, that were completely voluntary. Early adopters were a mixture of those who genuinely believed the change was the future combined with those who had experienced the ‘work anywhere’ concept at other organisations and knew it to be a good one.
One of the process levers that captured our imagination was the shredding of any papers left on desks overnight. The cleaning staff are empowered to reset the BBC working environment back to zero each night so that anyone is free to sit anywhere without having to work around mess left behind by colleagues.

Board buy-in vital

It was clear that Andreas did not shy away from the really difficult changes, those impact the board and senior leadership team. Getting the BBC Board to move to the same ratio of desks as the rest of the staff gave the move authentic leadership. With the encouragement of Andreas (who was not afraid to give tough love when needed!) the Board role modelled the behaviour everyone else was being asked to adopt

3 years and counting

What shone out from this presentation was how Andreas had given this change his complete commitment and all of his energy, constantly on-call fur nearly three years. His energy and persistence are inspiring. He is an example of what really successful change requires: an almost never ending willingness to keep listening, keep answering questions so that no-one, however hard they are finding it gets left behind.

Change Management Institute events

Change Management Institute puts in regular events like this in London, Milton Keynes, Newcastle and Coventry. Come and join us and network with like minded colleagues.

Melanie Franklin
17th January 2016