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What is Agile Working? Anytime, anyplace, anywhere

We have all heard the term ’agile working’ bandied about recently. It is based on the concept that work is an activity we do, rather than a place we go. But what does it mean – and what can an agile approach do for your organisation?

What is agile working?

The Agile Organisation provides the most widely used definition of agile working:

Agile working is about bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology, time, and place together to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to carry out a particular task. It is working within guidelines (of the task) but without boundaries (of how you achieve it).

The lack of boundaries makes organisations flexible enough to respond and adapt quickly to any change. In practical terms, that might mean remote working, flexible hours, less strictly defined job roles, making speed a priority, and providing agile workspaces such as hot desks, quiet rooms, or collaboration spaces, allowing workers to adapt how and where they work.

Agile working is no longer new, but it is a “new way of working”. Agile working is not the same as flexible working. It can be done anywhere, not just from home – so it is even more flexible than flexible working. Agile working is whatever works to enable an organisation to function as efficiently as possible.

Agile working can be split into 4 distinct categories:

Time – when you work

Role – what you do

Location – where you work

Source – the teams and tasks you work with

What is the aim of agile working?

The aim is to create a more responsive, efficient, and effective organisation, which ultimately improves business performance and increases customer satisfaction.

Pros of agile working

  • Adapting to employee needs and unforeseen business challenges helps organisations thrive and employees do their best work.
  • Agility is cost-effective: agile workplaces use space efficiently with no waste-reducing property costs.
  • Agility promotes communication and collaboration between colleagues, creating a stronger culture.
  • Because employees can move around freely in agile workplaces, agility also promotes strong interdepartmental relationships and greater inclusion.
  • Agile working has been associated with positive wellbeing, and the reduction of absenteeism and related costs.
  • Improvements in sustainability, reduction in organisational and personal carbon footprint, waste disposal, and energy consumption.

Cons of agile working

  • A lack of order can quickly lead to chaos, especially without proper workplace management software. An integrated workplace management system will help here.
  • Agile workspaces can leave employees with too little privacy and personal space due to no assigned seating.
  • Employees who are more introverted or thrive on routine need stability more than agility. Making an agile approach compulsory or pressuring them into it before they are ready can compromise morale.
  • There may be an increased risk of physical and data security issues.
  • With increased flexibility, this can lead to employers increasing monitoring which may lead to allegations that there is a reduction in trust and confidence.

 15 tips to successfully introduce agile working

1. Consult your workforce and put together a business case for your board or directors, identify the specific benefits of agile working for your organisation. It is important to think about corporate priorities and strategies when aligning agile working.

2. Try a pilot project first before rolling out agile working to the whole organisation. Ensure you have a willing team who are open-minded and appreciate experimentation.

3. Update your policies and make sure everyone knows what is expected of them, so they fully understand the parameters, their rights, and the limits on any working regime. Agile working can only be achieved with high levels of trust and a performance driven culture.

4. Align vision and values. Lead by example: senior leaders need to become agile workers themselves and model best practices. Ideally becoming better leaders.

5. Change management is fundamental to the successful implementation of agile working and requires clear communication and engagement plan to ensure physical and psychological changes are supported.

6. Identify evangelists to maintain momentum.

7. Allow employees to work anywhere – not just during the COVID lockdown, but permanently. Remember to think about the practical consequences, such as adequate insurance cover is in place.

8. Ensure there is a critical focus on the customer, with an emphasis on services and relationships.

9. Consider how much flexibility is available in a role and develop working models.

10. Invest in the equipment and software your employees need to work effectively wherever they are. This may need additional IT support to introduce processes smoothly.

11. Create agile workspaces such as hot desks, private meeting booths, break-out areas for brainstorming, or audio-visual rooms for video meetings.

12. Think about how to encourage and celebrate creativity among your employees.

13. Decide how you will evaluate success. Take time to reflect, ensuring continuous improvements. This may include using pulse surveys or investing in software to evaluate productivity.

14. Think about reward. This method of working may result in a more target-based reward methodology.

15. Once you have created an agile workplace, use it as an incentive to attract top talent. This could set you apart from other employers.

If you are looking for great employees and leaders and seek a knowledge-led approach to high-tech recruitment, Redline is here to help with the identification and procurement of agile staff.

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