Thanks to the ever-changing nature of workspaces, more and more companies are opting out of the traditional workforce in favor of a more relaxed and flexible company culture. With the increased popularity of remote working, freelancing, and coworking hubs, entrepreneurs have all managed to thrive thanks to this shift in working practices and it looks like this trend is here to stay. Agile working is a natural consequence of this new phenomenon, but the term should not be used interchangeably with “flexible working,” since there’s much more to it than first meets the eye.
Here’s an introduction to agile working:
The definition of agile work culture
By emphasizing the mantra that “work is a thing we do, not a place we go”, agile working underlines the fact that not all productive work should necessary be done on-site. The term refers to instances when an employer offers little or no constraints and plenty of flexibility to an employee, with the aim of receiving their best work in exchange. By using various tools, communicating with their employers and working from a place where they can be at their most productive, workers often produce much more valuable end products than when working from a crowded and noisy cubicle.
Although many confuse the term with flexible working, agile work culture has different goals, even if it does incorporate much flexibility. Whilst flexible working often favors the employee and rarely the employer, things are quite the opposite in agile working, where it is the organization that seeks long-term success along with efficient and successful results with the help of this practice.
Advantages to agile working
As we’ve already mentioned above, businesses gain tremendous benefits from agile working. In an era when many prefer to work from home, coworking hubs or cafes, employers can save a lot of money and space by reducing their offices, thus also scaling down their carbon footprints. Thanks to the flexibility factor, business hours can easily be extended or even shortened and there are fewer outside factors which can threaten and disrupt the regular workday. In exchange for all this freedom, employees are much more motivated to work and are more productive with their daily tasks, which is basically a win-win situation for everybody.
The staff also enjoys quite a few advantages, such as an improved work-life balance, and less commute time, which often means less stress and increased general wellbeing. Being more productive is also a benefit to the employee, since they can unleash their creative ideas whenever and wherever they wish and do not have to limit themselves to the outdated work hours of the traditional office culture.
Why is agile working needed?
With the rapid growth and continuous evolution of technology, every sector is affected by the need to customize products and services. Thanks to high-speed Internet connections, and the myriads of smartphones, laptops and gadgets ensuring connection at all times, it’s no wonder that the agile work culture is thriving.
Since in the next few years half of the workforce will be made up of Millennials, who value flexibility and a healthy work-life balance above all, it’s more than wise to keep up with this trend. Not only does it please the staff, but agile working is also a much more cost-effective option for all types of businesses, often exceeding the traditional workplace in its end results.
When and how to achieve agility?
According to the Agile Future Forum, agility needs to be thought of in four separate dimensions: time, location, role and source. The time category refers to the interval when staff work and has many sub-notions which need to be considered, such as how working hours are agreed upon, how overtime is measured and paid, whether or not employees can choose their own working hours and even how some employees can work in shifts.
The location dimension refers to the places where employees can be at their most productive and it can involve (but is not limited to) home offices, hot desking, coworking hubs or simply sitting in a café. The role category establishes the functions and responsibilities of an employee or a team, while the source dimension refers to the type of agreement with the worker, which can be crowd-sourced, freelance-based, partnering or even based on fixed-term contracts.
If you’re interested in jumping on the agile working bandwagon, make sure you do some thorough research before changing your entire company culture. Also, do a bit of introspection to see whether or not agile working is truly advantageous for your line of work, your employees and, most importantly, your own business aspirations.