Combining modern technological advances, shifting attitudes to the workplace and the changing demands on employees in the 21st Century, agile working can increase staff productivity while providing a very real benefit to employers and employees, in many different ways…
So what exactly is it and what are the tangible advantages of engaging with this new way of working?
A freer way of working
By bringing together physical and digital technology, agile working allows staff to work when, where and however they need, freeing them from being tied to one physical workspace, which, ultimately, allows individuals to work as they feel best.
This, in turn, boosts staff productivity and job satisfaction, encouraging “smart working”, where better outcomes are the result of innovative ways of performing tasks.
As well as allowing workers the freedom to work wherever they want outside of the office, ie at home or on the move, agile working also applies to the office environment itself.
A modern office, designed to facilitate agile working and encourage a free flow of people throughout the working space, will consist of an open plan layout, low level furniture, flexible meeting areas, standing desks, breakout areas, where staff can relax and discuss ideas, and informal meeting areas.
This mix of spaces and work stations allows employees to undertake activity based working, heading for quieter zones when there is a need and moving to shared spaces when it’s beneficial to work with certain sets of co-workers.
Utilising standing desks and adopting a hot-desking approach helps workers to feel like it’s legitimate to work at other places rather than sitting at their desks. Informal meeting spaces facilitate the type of smart working, and impromptu business meetings between colleagues and clients, which can drive a business forward and encourage a real team mentality.
Flexible vs agile
Flexible working and agile working overlap in some respects.
Flexible workers have the right to choose the hours they work, within reason, and can work from home at the discretion of their employer. However, enlightened employers are now arguing that work is an activity and not a place.
Agile working can, therefore, be categorised as being independent of location, unlike flexible working. It also incorporates certain ideologies…
One of the core principles is that a good worker is a smart worker who is able to work out new and innovative ways of doing things rather than performing the same tasks over and over again in the same style. This is supported by the principle that colleagues should be freer to work together, which fits with a more open and collaborative style of office design.
Counting the benefits
Agile working is cost-effective. By ensuring that office space is used in the most efficient way possible, an office can create space for more staff. Similarly, space can be reduced, along with facilities, which cuts back on waste and excessive overheads. For those already employing an agile approach, overheads have reportedly been reduced by as much as 20 per cent.
There’s also evidence to support the theory that these spaces impact positively on rates of recruitment and retention as they’re more attractive to younger, high caliber workers who want to join a more vibrant business, with a diverse workforce, offering the most positive and productive working environment.
Another advantage is the notable boost in self-esteem for those employees who are afforded greater autonomy over their working habits. They can better fit other commitments around work and choose when to travel and when to work remotely. The long-term expectation is that there will be better rates of staff productivity and a drop in absenteeism, which will impact positively on bottom line profits.
An agile working environment also provides the perfect opportunity to express your brand in a unique and creative way, while increasing staff loyalty and producing a whole new positive vibe that is indicative of a positive cultural shift and a change to the dynamics overall.