I was walking along floor two, on my way to a meeting with HR when someone barked my name. Three times they shouted ‘Phil – Phil – Phil’. At first I thought they were shouting for a dog but realised eventually they wanted to attract my attention. There may be easier ways of getting hold of me.
I turned round to see Darren in the corridor gesticulating wildly. ‘I have to show you this’ he said. He took me into his office to show me his new tablet. He described how life changing it was and that he and his team were going to use them to transform the way that they are working. He was overflowing with enthusiasm for how he could store documents, prepare for meetings and annotate the papers as he went along. It was a revelation. I thanked him, shook his hand and welcomed him to the 21st century.
That same afternoon during the Core group meeting (yes we have a lot of meetings) Greg told me about how they had set up a hot desk where he works. It was just one but it was a start. He was up on floor five at the other end of the building from the room for improvement. Today I had a couple of free hours which was a luxury so I decide to go and give it a try.
Greg wasn’t there when I arrived but everyone knew where the desk was. It was the one covered in paper. The sun was streaming through the window and it was certainly hot. It was an auspicious start perhaps but no biggy to the seasoned traveller. I settled down and got on with what I do. I got to chat with a couple of people within the office. I also had a conversation with those who came in and out. Most started with ‘what are you doing here?’ to which I could retell the story about Greg and his hot desk. I also got to see some of the issues with the way the phones are set up that could be improved.
Greg made me the largest cup of tea I had ever had and I was made to feel very welcome.
The real purpose of my story is not that these things have happened but rather that they are starting to happen with greater frequency. Every other day I come across small changes in the way that people are working. I am becoming more and more convinced now that we really have got a cultural shift underway and with a bit some time and some more encouragement the trickle will turn into a flood.
It is now over a year since I jettisoned my desk and office. I have been nomadic ever since. Culture change is slow however. People don’t need to be told, they need to understand and get themselves into a position where they can accept that they need to be doing things in a different way and it is alright to do so. Culture change has a gestation period.
Perhaps I was just born ahead of my time.