Kabacarito, Riskonomics

How agile can you go?

We moved into new office last month. It is not merely about flashy new building and furnitures. It comes with new way of working in the office, ‘agile system’ as they call it.

In the old office, everyone had spacious dedicated work station. Large L-shape desk was more than enough for desk phone, laptop docking, wide-screen monitor, keyboard and mouse. Rest of surface could still keep piles of moving documents and other things. Everyone has drawer and two storeys metal cabinet to store even more documents, books and other stuffs.  All yours. You are free to display your private sentimental stuffs on the desk (picture frame is typical example), since you will definitely come back there tomorrow morning. Bosses have their own offices. Sounds like a normal office set up, doesn’t it?

So, what agile system does to you?  Under agile system, no one has dedicated desk anymore, not even Bosses who also lost their offices.  Everyone is working in the same big hall without partition.    All desks are identical, simple rectangle about half of the size of those in the old office.  There are only a laptop docking, keyboard, mouse and either two wide-screen or one curved-very-wide-screen monitor on the table.  No cabinet or drawer.

Desk phones dissappear.  All calls or conferences are now done via skype.  Everyone has stereo headset that can go wireless and connected to laptop though a dongle.  If your call suddenly turn to confidential one, you just need to quickly sneak into any vacant Think-Tank room while keeping your headset on.  Think-Tank are several small meeting rooms to accomodate such confidential conversations, one of important feature of agile office.  
After few days into new system, some spots become favorite for various reasons such as best view window seat, near to pantry, near to toilet, near to printer, in the corner and no one can see your screen, etc.  Interestingly, there is no a single desk that people can agree as the hottest spot.  People clearly has different tastes and preferences. 
It is a first come first served basis.   Seniority or grade is irrelevant.  You can’t book any desk in advance.  All you need to do to get your dream spot is to arrive as early as possible.  You can’t choose who will seat next to you.  Bad news for those who hate their boss.
It is a clean desk policy.  Everytime you call it a day, you can not leave anything on the table.  
Where do you keep your stuff?  Everyone has a locker, digitally secured by PIN number.  Here you go, another password to remember.  You are also given a ‘hot box’, something like a toolbox to keep your belonging like laptop, calculator, tablet, notebook, stationery etc and transport them between your locker and your desk of the day.  You can still put your cute family photo on the desk by the way, just that you need to remove it to the locker over night.
I personally like this agile system.  Everyday is unique with new place, new view and new neigbours.  Even for small office like ours with less than twenty people, there are still so much different combinations you can enjoy.
I also like the egalitarian side of it.  Sometimes I feel like in the Mosque, whoever you are, you are free to sit wherever you like.  A Shaikh who came late when front rows are all taken has to be happy with available space at the back.

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